KOTA KINABALU 11/01/2013: The five-man Royal Commission of Inquiry panel conducting a comprehensive probe into Sabah's illegal immigrant problem will begin open court hearings from Monday.
The panel, headed by former chief judge of Borneo Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong, will begin to hear witness testimonies at a courtroom of the Kota Kinabalu High Court here, the panel's secretary Datuk Saripuddin Kasim said Friday.
The first round of public hearings, the first since the panel was set up on Sept 21 last year, is scheduled for five days until Jan 18, and again from Jan 28, he said.
The panel has so far identified 48 witnesses to testify at the hearings. The witnesses were selected after a special team interviewed and verified claims pertaining to issues of illegal immigrants in the state.
As of Friday, parties from both sides of the political divide continued furnish the panel's investigators with details pertaining to the claims.
Among the panel's terms of reference are determining the number of immigrants in Sabah, investigating if blue identity cards or citizenship papers were issued to immigrants and whether they were registered in the electoral roll, and the abnormal increase in Sabah's population.
The panel has been given six months to complete the probe.
By MUGUNTAN VANAR