Five Hundred Thousand

I am inclined to agree with the state­ment of Siti Ami­nah Mah­mud who revealed her role in the issu­ance of 500,000 iden­tity cards with (the racist) bumi­putra status to illegal immig­rants in Sabah.

About 500,000 blue iden­tity cards (ICs) were given to Filipino and Indone­sian immig­rants in Sabah in the early 1990s under the orders of then-Sabah Umno chief Tun Datu Mustapha Harun, a former Umno mem­ber said today.

Siti Ami­nah Mah­mud, who worked vol­un­tar­ily in the Umno office in Kota Kin­abalu, said today that the now-deceased Mustapha, who was the third chief min­is­ter of Sabah from 1967 to 1975, had told her that the ICs were issued to over­throw the Parti Ber­satu Sabah (PBS) government.

Hav­ing per­son­ally engaged with the loc­als and also meet­ing non-Malaysians who told me, with no reason to fear per­se­cu­tion, how they were even­tu­ally provided with MyKADs of bumi­putra status — it would be very sur­pris­ing if no one from those years of treach­ery had gained a con­science and provided actual num­bers and meth­ods of how cit­izen­ship was traded in exchange for votes.

500,000 banked votes is a big enough num­ber to sway any elec­tion, and its reper­cus­sions can be felt today in Sabah — in which an immig­rant pop­u­la­tion was exploited for polit­ical gain, at the det­ri­ment of social cohesion.

Per­son­ally, I believe that any immig­rant to this coun­try should be given the oppor­tun­ity to gain cit­izen­ship. We are after all, a nation of immig­rants. To deny the right of cit­izen­ship for arbit­rary reas­ons such as place-of-birth seem an unusu­ally con­tra­dict­ory policy.

How­ever, one should be able to sep­ar­ate between cit­izen­ship that is prop­erly gran­ted, and slavery.

These immig­rants from the Phil­ip­pines and Indone­sia are not at fault for want­ing a bet­ter life. It is what each and every one of us would wish for ourselves and those whom we care for.

All the more reason that the people behind this pro­ject to enslave an entire under­priv­ileged pop­u­la­tion simply to win votes should be put on trial, and justly pun­ished. A per­ver­sion of the sys­tem at this level is any­thing but kindness.

We now have a pop­u­la­tion of recent immig­rants enslaved into vot­ing against the interests of the people. And the sad thing is, they are prob­ably going to be fur­ther degraded — and the peoples of Sabah los­ing the abil­ity to prop­erly vote for a rep­res­ent­at­ive gov­ern­ment, while Bar­isan Nas­ional con­tin­ues their rule over the state unchallenged.

Justice can only be served with a gov­ern­ment and judi­ciary com­mit­ted to right­ing these wrongs. Sabah needs a change in the fed­eral gov­ern­ment as much as they need a change in the state government.