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Thursday, January 17, 2013
Megat Junid’s alleged order to let immigrants vote ‘shocking’, say Bersih leaders
By Ida Lim and Syed Jaymal Zahiid
January 17, 2013
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 — Leaders of polls watchdog Bersih 2.0 have expressed shock over accusations that a former minister had ordered the National Registration Department’s (NRD) Sabah branch to enable illegal immigrants to vote.
Yesterday, former Sabah NRD director Ramli Kamarudin told an inquiry panel that the late Tan Sri Megat Junid Megat Ayub had instructed him to provide immigrants with NRD receipts, temporary documents that allowed them to vote in a 1994 state election.
Ambiga said the accusations amounted to electoral ‘fraud’. — File pic
Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, the Bersih 2.0 co-chair, described Ramli’s testimony during a hearing before the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Sabah’s illegal immigrants as “shocking”, saying that this amounted to electoral “fraud”.
“The evidence is shocking in one sense but on the other hand, this is exactly what the people have been suspecting all along. What has happened and is happening in Sabah is reported to be happening in West Malaysia too! This is fraud and nothing less,” she told The Malaysian Insider when contacted yesterday.
She said that it suggested that there was a “conspiracy”, saying that there is “cause for grave concern”.
“It suggests a conspiracy at high levels. Of course it is not proper to comment fully yet until all the evidence is given and the other side of this sorry tale is told. For now I can say that what is surfacing is cause for grave concern.”
Maria Chin Abdullah, a Bersih 2.0 steering committee member, similarly expressed shock over what was testified during the RCI hearing yesterday.
“We are shocked but at the same time glad that these people are making such exposes as the EC (Election Commission) had denied that all this is happening.”
“This is why we need observers with all these exposes...,” she told The Malaysian Insideryesterday.
Bersih 2.0 along with MAFREL and Pusat Komas have been recruiting citizens through PEMANTAU to observe both the campaign and polling period of Election 2013, while Tindak Malaysia has been actively training polling agents as observers.
These civil society groups say that having such observers would help to prevent electoral fraud from happening in what is expected to be an intense battle for votes.
Maria was happy that people are making such exposes.
Yesterday, Ramli said that Megat Junid, the then deputy home affairs minister, had in 1994 told him to match the details of the NRD receipts issued to illegal immigrants to the names and identity card numbers of registered voters.
“We gave them (immigrants) RM20,” Ramli told the inquiry panel yesterday.
“We teach them how to vote. We gather them in a house. We send them by bus to the polling stations. Then we send them back and we collect the receipts. The receipts are just for voting. We did not give them identity cards,” he added.
Ramli said that about 200 NRD receipts were issued in five or six state constituencies each in Sabah that were considered “black spots that were difficult for the government to win.”
Ramli, who said he was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) from 1995 to 1997, also denied receiving bribes.
“This was a direct order from the deputy home affairs minister himself, even though I admit that it was illegal,” he said.
He added that the directive was given at a meeting with Megat Junid, Umno’s Datuk Seri Osu Sukam (who later became Sabah chief minister in 1999) and an NRD registration officer named Asli Sidup, at the Hyatt Hotel in Kota Kinabalu two weeks before the 1994 state election.
“The receipts were strictly for voting. After that, we would collect the receipts and destroy them,” said Ramli.
Asli testified later that 200 NRD receipts were used in the Kawang state constituency in the 1994 state election, which Osu won by a mere 64 votes.
The 1994 state election saw Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) winning just 25 out of 48 state assembly seats.
But several PBS assemblymen defected to Barisan Nasional (BN) shortly after, causing the collapse of the PBS government.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister who was in power from 1981 to 2003, has been accused of spearheading the so-called “Project IC”, in which citizenship was allegedly given to immigrants in exchange for their votes.
But former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh, who administered the state from 1976 to 1985, denied on Tuesday the existence of “Project IC”.
The inquiry before RCI chairman Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong resumes today.