Published on: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Kota Kinabalu: A syndicate raked in an estimated RM11 million through issuing Malaysian identity cards to foreigners in the 1990s, the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) hearing was told when it resumed Friday.
Senior Special Branch Officer Supt Ahmad Fawzan bin Mohamad, from Bukit Aman, testifying as the 56th witness, said monetary gain was the main reason for the syndicate's operation in issuing the Malaysian ICs to foreigners for payment of between RM50 and RM1,400 depending on their nationalities.
However, they were never charged in court but placed under the Internal Security Act (ISA) which has since been repealed.
Ahmad Fawzan was serving in Bukit Aman with the rank of Inspector when he was involved in a police operation on the issuance of ICs suspected via irregular means in Sabah from 1995 to February 2001.
Now, he is the officer-in-charge of a division for Security Protection, Syndicate Coordinating Operation, forgery of documents, trafficking in persons and handling official matters under the Special Branch in Kuala Lumpur.
"I was responsible for research and assessment based reports and intelligence in regards to activities that posed security risks and their bearing on national security. However, I did not conduct any interviews.
"As a result, 94 arrests were made in July 1995 and the last arrest was in Feb. 2001 involving 24 government officers from the National Registration Department (NRD), four civil servants from other government agencies and the rest were private individuals.
"The highest top officers who were apprehended were two directors of NRD Sabah, Datuk Abdul Rauf Sani and Ramli Kamaruddin, and no persons above them were involved in the operation," he said.
Ahmad Fauzan said that Ramli was detained for two years under the ISA from 1996 to 1998, while another then-Sabah NRD director, Datuk Abdul Rauf Sani, was put under Restricted Residence for about six months in 1996.
To a question from Conducting Officer Manoj Kumar, Ahmad Fawzan said he came to a conclusion that the only motive for the operation by the syndicate involving NRD officers, other government officers as well as "agents and sub-agents" among the public, was for monetary gain.
Hence, he said, there was no need to establish other reasons as motive for the operation. Manoj also tendered a chart showing how well prepared and well-organised the syndicate was.
To a question by Manoj and RCI Chairman Tan Sri Steve Shim, Ahmad Fawzan said the two directors were not charged in court as action was taken under preventive laws like the Internal Security Act (ISA) detention order and Restricted Residence (RR) order.
However, 3,035 foreigners were arrested and charged in court for possessing the Malaysian IC through fraudulent means by other enforcement agencies.
Nonetheless, Ahmad Fawzan told the RCI that he believed that more than the 3,035 foreigners have yet to be arrested. He said he also believed that the monetary gain from the syndicate could be more than the estimated RM11 million.
Then-Sabah NRD Director Ramli Kamarudin, however, told the RCI last month that then-Deputy Home Minister, the late Tan Sri Megat Junid Megat Ayub, had ordered him to issue NRD receipts, which matched the names and IC numbers of registered voters, to immigrants.
Ramli had said that about 200 NRD receipts each were issued in five or six state constituencies, which the government considered difficult to win, before the 1994 Sabah state election.
The state election saw Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) winning just 25 out of 48 state assembly seats.
But several PBS assemblymens defected to Barisan Nasional (BN) shortly after, causing the collapse of the PBS government.
SB officer DSP Badaruddin Ismail testified last month that Ramli had sold 16,000 NRD receipts for more than RM1 million that enabled immigrants in Sabah to vote.
Ramli had sold each receipt for RM250 between 1993 and 1995 to illegal immigrants from the Philippines, India, Pakistan and other countries, according to Badaruddin.
Badaruddin had also said that Abdul Rauf had sold 6,305 identity cards to Filipino and Indonesian immigrants, as well as locals, for RM167,300.