Kota Kinabalu: Former Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh said it is not necessary to serve a subpoena on him to appear before the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah when it begins hearings.
"I confirm that I will attend at any time, at any place to give evidence and information on the issue of illegals. There is no need to serve a subpoena on me, it is hoped that those people will lower their blood pressure after reading this statement," he said.
"First of all, it must be emphasised and stressed that the power of granting citizenship and issuing identity cards are vested with the Federal Government under the constitution and law", he said, in the statement, Monday.
This power, he said is now vested with the Ministry of Home Affairs and under the Constitution, the Federal Government can grant citizenship to anyone at anytime even after a few days of arrival, if it deems that person is of national interest.
"This is very clear and written in black and white. Thus, the most any person can do is to help make an application and make recommendation for those eligible to apply for either a permanent stay or citizenship," he said.
"Secondly, if my memory serves me right, it is the policy of the Federal Government since the late 1960s or early 1970s that anybody who is eligible to become citizen would be entertained and granted.
"This is particularly true to the refugees from Indo-China and later Philippines. The late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Malaysia's first Prime Minister announced publicly and openly, the policy that the Federal Government would accept and take Muslim refugees from Myanmar and that non-Muslims could go to Australia, Europe or USA.
"Tunku made this announcement when there were tens of thousands of Myanmar Rohingya refugees coming to Malaysia. It is expected that most of these refugees are now citizens.
"Tunku Abdul Rahman said very clearly in no uncertain terms that those refugees, who are Muslim can stay in Malaysia and would be granted citizenship. This policy is still valid today as the present Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak just a year ago signed an agreement with Australia on a refugee swap with Muslim refugees in Australia coming to Malaysia and non-Muslims going to Australia," he said.
Harris said thus, over the years out of the few hundred thousand Philippine refugees in Sabah, some were issued with IMM13 to allow them to stay in Malaysia, and they must have been accorded citizenship.
Hence, the population increase is a little higher than normal.
On the issue of illegal workers in Sabah, it appeared that there is no study being carried out as to why both employers and employees are at fault, knowing full well the severity of the punishment in store.
However, as pointed out from time to time there were about 200,000 illegal workers who came in legally with passports but over time and due to poor treatment by contractors and high government fees and changing policies, both employers and employees opted to illegal practices.
"It must be noted here that being illegal workers, life is like hell.
They cannot travel around as they like and they will be arrested.
The flow of workers from Indonesia is not going to be forever.
"The Indonesians and Indonesian Government are just 'sakit hati' and waiting for the day when the Indonesian workers will work in their own country. This is happening in Hong Kong where 10 years ago mainland people worked in Hong Kong and now it is the other way around," he said.
In conclusion, Harris said it was puzzling as to why calls for the establishment of the RCI is becoming more and more easy these days.
"Little issues such as people jumping from an apartment and the infamous Lingam tape does not need a RCI.
All these can be handled by the police," he said.
In the United Kingdom which has introduced the RCI more than 500 years ago, one never noticed any RCI being appointed on many important issues unlike in Malaysia.
"It is further noted that the Teoh and Lingam cases were just a waste of time to the commission panels and waste of government money," he said. Daily Express.