Project IC is a controversial initiative that involved the granting of citizenship to immigrants (whether legal or otherwise) in Sabah by giving them the MyKad identity cards. Originally initiated in late 1990s, the project catered to the evolving electoral patterns of the Sabah state government.
The idea was to change the demographic pattern of Sabah to make it more favourable to certain political parties, especially with regard to changing the electoral voting patterns. In 2012, former Dewan Rakyat senator and state assemblyman Chong Eng Leong alleged that there were some 700,000 “Project IC citizens” and about 200,000 of them were on the state electoral roll.
This illegal recruitment process to gain political control – seemed to have resurfaced in recent months but taking on a different approach – through fires intentionally started by illegal immigrants to destroy existing documents and facilitate the issuance of MyKad.
Strangely, such illegal activities only commenced when the Warisan government came into power last year. Coincidental?
In an article published on 27 May 2019 in the Malay Mail titled, “Musa denies involvement in Project IC”, the former chief minister Musa Aman mentioned that Sabahans were justified in their suspicions and fears that documentation was being granted to illegal immigrants in the state.
“This serious threat to Sabah’s security only surfaced after Warisan dubiously came into power last year. This concern is real, especially in light of the various news and social media postings which have reported the unusually frequent breakout of kampong fires in major squatter settlements throughout Sabah followed by stories of National Registration Department (NRD) mobile trucks turning-up soon after and issuing new documents to the ‘fire victims’,” Musa said.
The move by the police to open an investigation into the “Citizen Drive” linked to Warisan was a good move and also proposed an investigation paper on the multitude of major squatter fires that started as early as June last year.
Similar sentiments were shared by Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku president Jeffrey Kitingan in an online article posted on 7 May 2019 in FMT, titled “What’s going on with illegal immigrant issue in Sabah?”
In 2018 shortly after Warisan came into power, a spate of fires had coincidentally broken out at various Filipino squatter areas in the state. There were concerns that ‘identification documents’ were given to the victims of such fires.
“Yet, Warisan proposed a programme to legalise illegals in the state and place Filipino illegals on an island close to a border,” Kitingan said. “Less than six months after the party came into power, there were eight fires at huge squatter colonies throughout Sabah with no reported casualties.
“Allegedly, JPN mobile trucks appeared at the sites as quickly as the fires broke out,” he said, referring to the NRD. One cannot blame the people for suspecting that identity documents were granted to the victims of these fires.”
The trend is worrying. The activities involving the legalisation of illegal Filipino immigrants in Sabah has given rise to much suspicion about the motives of Shafie Apdal.
From an ethnicity perspective, and looking at the top/ruling politicians in Sabah’s State Assembly, Shafie Apdal appears to be the weakest link given his Bajau-Suluk lineage. Thi sis simply based on population of the ethnic group, which numbers approximately
Deputy Chief Minister, Christina Liew of the Malaysian Chinese descent is supported by PKR Sabah and the Chinese community – the largest non-indigenous group in Sabah who contribute significantly to state economy.
Darell Leiking deputy president of Warisan, is of Kadazandusun heritage. Likewise, Wilfred Madius Tangau, one of the Deputy Chief Ministers of Sabah is also of the Kadazandusun descent. The Kadazandusun is the largest native group of Bumiputra in Sabah.
It is obvious then Shafie needs to build on his ‘war chest’ to fight for his political survival as well as strengthen his position in the much-dominated indigenous Kadazandusun, Bajau, Murut and non-indigenous Chinese Sabah.
Can you then blame Shafie Apdal for legalising the illegal Filipino immigrants to increase his electoral votes? By doing so he not only increases his reach with those with the Bajau-Suluk heritage who originate from the Philippines archipelago, but also dilutes the population of other ethnic groups. He is just ensuring his survival for GE15.