Published on: Sunday, March 17, 2013
Papar: Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said his administration never issued any directive to issue Malaysian citizenship and Identity Cards (ICs) to foreigners who were not eligible or had just entered the country.
He said it is not the policy of the government to issue citizenship and ICs to foreigners and immigrants who did not meet the requirements.
"The government policy is to consider and process applications of those who came and stayed in the country for quite some time and were eligible to be Malaysians.
"When approved, we give them Permanent Resident (PR) status and eventually an opportunity to be Malaysians. But I was told that there were non-eligible people who were given citizenship, including those who had just arrived to the country.
"Then this is an abuse of power by the concerned officers for personal gain and personal interest," he told a press conference after attending a "Bicara Minda" programme themed "Jalan Hadapan Malaysia, Apa Pilihan?" at the multipurpose hall here, Saturday.
It was jointly organised by the Papar Parliamentary office, Papar Education Office, Federation of Youth Associations in cooperation with People's Development Leader for Pantai Manis, People's Development Leader for Kawang and district office here.
Dr Mahathir was asked on the issue of "Projek IC" in which critics alleged that blue ICs were issued with his knowledge and/or blessing to illegal immigrants in Sabah, especially after the PBS pullout from the Barisan Nasional ruling coalition in 1990.
"I realise this issue is a subject that Sabah people care about.
As I have explained, many of us were originally not from this country including from China, India, and the Arab.
"Many had stayed here for so long and had mastered Bahasa, as well as they have been loyal to the government and this country.
So, we give them Malaysian citizenships provided they have fulfilled the required criteria.
"Nonetheless, there were times when citizenship were given to those not eligible which had been done by the late Tunku Abdul Rahman where a million foreigners who did not go through any process were given the opportunity to be Malaysians," he said.
On increasing oil royalty for Sabah, Dr.Mahathir said the Government practices sharing of the oil which is the natural wealth irrespective which State is producing and to be distributed fairly among the States, including those not producing oil to enjoy the benefits.
"When Sabah was poor, the Federal Government helped the StateÉ.but don't tell me that when Sabah has become rich, it does not want to help other people (states). That is not sharing because oil is created naturally and it is God's gift.
"For example, when Terengganu was rich with oil, the State did not ask for more oil royalty more than five per cent.
In fact, the five per cent oil royalty is given based on gross and not based on profit, which is higher," he said.