Shafie says citizenship move not the same as 'Projek IC'
Published on: Friday, August 17, 2018

CM Datuk Shafie assured Sabahans there will be no repeat of "Projek IC" following an announcement by the prime minister to give citizenship to permanent residents aged 60 and above.Speaking after attending the National Day celebration at the Sutera Harbour resort here, Shafie said the state government would be cautious in the matter.

He vowed that the State Government would not let the "Projek IC" incident recur in Sabah, a reference to the allegation of systematic granting of citizenship to immigrants by giving them MyKads in the 1990s.

"I think this is one of the issues spelt out in our manifesto and we will do everything necessary to curb that sort of thing.

"Giving work passes to foreign workers is a different issue altogether because we are not giving them ICs.

"For the State Government, giving them work passes is better to enable us to know where they are," he said.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir said permanent residents aged 60 and above who had applied for full citizenship would be granted this soon, provided they fulfilled certain conditions.

These include being born in Malaysia, having a parent who is a Malaysian, having resided in Malaysia for 10 years out of the 12-year period preceding the date of their application, and being able to speak Malay.

Welcoming the decision, Shafie said the issue of giving citizenship to permanent residents would help to solve Sabah's stateless people problem.

"The problem is not unique to Malaysia and is present in other parts of the world as well.

I was visited by UN (United Nations) representatives the other day and they highlighted this issue and how to address it.

"There are a lot of complexities in Sabah when it comes to stateless people, things that we need to thrash out.

In countries such as the UK and the USA, people who have been living there for many years and have fulfilled the requirements can become citizens.

"It is a worldwide practice and what is important here is to look into the details of how best a similar thing can be implemented in Sabah," he said.

Shafie pointed out that there are many indigenous people in Sabah and Sarawak who are stateless although they are genuine Sabahans or Sarawakians just because they do not have ICs and birth certificates.

He said when he was the rural development minister, he met many Ibans in Sarawak who had no identification cards or birth certificates because they lived in remote areas.

"This is where I think we have to ensure they are recognised as Sarawakians or Sabahans and Malaysians.

We don't want them to be chased away from their own country. They have no place to go.

This citizenship is their birth right and we should grant them what is due to them," he said.

Last month, a coalition of NGOs in the state claimed there were "at least 800,000 stateless people" in Sabah.

The coalition's head, Nani Sakam, said most of the stateless people lived in remote places and many were the children of indigenous people such as the Rungus, Murut and Dusun.


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