Project M: False ICs for foreigners in Sabah
Jun 16, 06 6:49pm
It’s an open secret – the number of foreigners in Sabah far exceeded the
locals in a span of a few short years. How did it happened?
Former senator Dr Chong Eng Leong was blunt when he made his submission to
the parliamentary select committee on integrity yesterday at the Sabah State
Chong, who is a supreme council member of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), alleged
that the extraordinary population increase in Sabah was caused by the
deliberate issuance of Malaysian identity cards (ICs) to foreigners under
the secret ‘Project Mahathir’ or ‘Project IC’.
As a result, there are around 1.75 million foreigners in Sabah today,
including those in possession of Project Mahathir’s ICs, as compared to 1.5
million genuine locals in Sabah.
Chong mentioned that hundreds of thousands of false ICs already in the hands
of foreigners who are proclaiming themselves not only Malaysians, but
bumiputeras having all the privileges and rights of Customary Native Rights
The ex-senator said that according to the 1999 electoral rolls, there were
about 150,000 Sabah-born registered voters who were born between 1952 and
However, the Sabah Statistics Department stated that the state’s population
in 1951 was 334,141 and in 1960, 454,421 – an increase of 120,000.
If an estimated 80 percent of the population registered as voters, there
would only be about 100,000 Sabah-born voters during this period, argued
That would mean that about a whopping one-third, or 50,000, of Sabah
registered voters were foreigners.
Chong said that the foreigners, who are mostly from the southern
Philippines, were issued with ICs through falsified Sijil Akuan (statutory
declaration) under Project Mahathir.
He said that a secret meeting was held in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the
project, which was attended by, among others, then deputy home minister
Megat Junid Megat Ayub and chief secretary to the government, Ahmad Sarji.
Ahmad was said to oppose the plan, however he was told that Mahathir had
already given his approval.
Kit Siang: Serious allegations
Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang – who is a member of the select committee
headed by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Bernard Dompok – was
not amused by the shocking revelations.
In an immediate response today, he urged Dr Mahathir Mohamad to appear
before the select committee to answer questions on this secret project.
“These are very serious allegations which Mahathir cannot allow to stand in
the public domain uncontradicted or unclarified,” said Lim.
Dompok said that the committee – which holding public inquiries nationwide –
will meet all the relevant authorities to check the veracity of Chong’s
He said that the committee findings will be submitted to Parliament in two
In recognition of the problem, two groups have separately launched campaigns
early this year with diverging aims on the matter.
Yayasan Islam Sabah, led by former chief minister Harris Salleh, has
organised a signature drive to get the federal authorities to acknowledge as
valid the surat akuan (statutory declaration) used by these foreigners to
obtain ICs and citizenship.
On the other hand, a group of prominent activists and non-governmental
organisations who call themselves the Patriotic Citizens Forum on Identity
Cards (Pacific) announced its plan to launch a signature campaign for the
formation of the royal commission to investigate the issue.