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Sabah RCI comes under fire

Restricting the Sabah RCI hearing to a predetermined
number of witnesses will result in investigations
falling far short of public expectations.
KOTA KINABALU: The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the fraudulent issuance of citizenship to illegal immigrants has hardly got off the ground but has already run into controversy.
Its move to call for testimony for witnesses at its “whim and fancy” will render its investigation far short of what the people of Sabah are expecting, an MP from Sabah said today.
“The commission must conduct an open hearing to give opportunities for the public who want to offer testimonies without restriction,” said Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS) president Wilfred Bumburing, the Tuaran MP.
“We [APS] also want to know why the commission is not conducting an open hearing and allowing everybody who want to come forward to offer evidence to be given the opportunity to do so,” he said in a statement to FMT.
He added that if the commission was restricting the hearing to a predetermined number of individuals or parties, then its investigation will fall far short of what is expected by the people.
The Pakatan Rakyat-friendly MP was responding to Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong who told Parliament on Wednesday that the RCI had begun its task by holding a meeting to determine who it would call to testify.
Bumburing, who resigned from Barisan Nasional over the illegal immigrant problem in Sabah, said the National Registration Department and the Immigration Department should also be called to give testimonies and answer questions from the commission.
“We don’t want to see a repeat of what happened during the hearing of the Integrity Committee where these two departments ignored the call by the committee to come forward to provide important information,” he said.
That committee was chaired by Federal Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister, Bernard Dompok, the Upko president who is also Penampang MP and Bumburing’s former boss in the party.
‘Hush-hush job’
Bumburing said that should officers from the two departments refuse to appear before the commission, then the head of the departments, the ministry and the government must be held fully responsible.
“If the government wants the RCI to do a comprehensive job, then extra funds should be provided to enable the commission to fully carry out its function. However, I did not see that kind of funds reflected in the 2013 Budget.
“We can expect high expenditure in facilitating hearings and to facilitate people to come forward to testify as the RCI should not restrict its work in calling people to come forward to testify but to visit where they are working or residing [in the vast state where travel is often difficult],” he added.
Bumburing said it was over two months since the formation of the RCI and yet the commission had not begun to hear testimony in Sabah and was expected to complete its inquiry in six months.
“So far, the commission has only announced that it had identified those who are going to be called to testify.
“In view of the huge number of illegal immigrants in Sabah and the huge numbers of documents to be uncovered and examined, we are doubtful if the commission will ever complete its job to satisfaction and to fully fulfil the demand of the people which would include a comprehensive solution to the problem.
“From what we have observed so far, we are of the opinion that the government just wants a hush-hush job in order to pacify the people,” he added.
The Tuaran MP quit the ruling coalition and his party, the United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko), of which he was the deputy president, on July 29 and immediately launched APS as his political platform, linking it with the opposition coalition Pakatan for the coming general election.

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