Published on: Friday, January 18, 2013
Kota Kinabalu: Former National Registration Department (NRD) Sabah Director Datuk Abdul Rauf bin Sani said there is no difference between illegal immigrants and communities in remote villagers in Sabah as both don't have identification documents.
The former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee, was the 15th witness at the public hearing held by the Royal Commission Inquiry (RCI) on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah said this here on Thursday.
He was arrested under the ISA in April 1996, detained for 60 days and was placed under restricted residence until November, 1996. He was accused of selling blue ICs for money, which he claimed the police failed to proof.
Rauf, who served the department from 1990 to 1992, said the illegals and the communities like in Ulu Pensiangan and Penampang had the same status, as both do not posses identification documents, including birth certificates.
"I am proud to say that I am the first NRD Director to walk for four hours to remote villages in Ulu Pensiangan like Sebanguli and Babantul and Terian and Sg Buayan in Penampang.
"Hence, I was motivated to help these communities and discovered the majority of the people in those villages have no single documents.
So, what is the difference between them and the foreign migrants here who had no documents as well.
"To me, both were qualified to be considered as foreigners with no documents," said Rauf who is currently a contract-based Chief Executive Officer of an agency in the Federal Finance Ministry.
Rauf said this when answering to Conducting Officer Datuk Azmi Ariffin who asked whether he issued Malaysian ICs to the Filipinos, Indonesians and Pakistanis.
He admitted issuing ICs to foreigners who had no supporting documents but as for 'IC Projek', he said he only heard about it.
The documentation process in Sabah was the worst because of the long distance from towns and interior villages which caused many people in Sabah to have no documents, he said.
"I met up with the then Chief Minister of Sabah, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan together with the State Secretary, at that time because I was motivated to help those people in the remote villages to get identification documents.
"Hence, I suggested to him (Pairin) to use Statutory Declaration (SD) verified by the Native Chiefs and headmen. However, Pairin insisted to use verification from the Magistrates and Commissioner of Oath, instead.
"I made such recommendation because I got my birth certificate from a headman in a village," he said, adding that the long distance caused inconveniences to the communities in remote villages to go to town and apply for the Ics.
RCI panel chairman Tan Sri Steve Shim asked Rauf who gave him the order to use SD to process the ICs. He answered that that there was no order issued but that it was a practice in Sabah for many years before 1990.
Azmi asked whether Rauf was aware that there was a government policy that ceased the use of SD in applying for the Malaysian ICs after 1987.
He replied that he was unaware of the existing policy.
To a question from lawyer, Datuk John Sikayun from the Sabah Law Association (SLA), Rauf agreed that there was a possibility of abusing the SD the foreigners who were issued with Ics.
One of the RCI panel members, Tan Sri Herman Luping also asked whether he could differentiate the foreigners and the communities based on the SD.
"I cannot distinguish those people living in the interior villages like in Ulu Pensiangan and the foreign migrants here who do not have documents Éunless I interview them one by one.
"Even based on their names, I cannot see the difference between them because even a name like Mustapha Harun may come from the Bajau or Suluk group and might also come from the Southern Philippines," Rauf said.