by Special Writer
Foreigners can qualify for ICs in Malaysia provided the Federal Constitution and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) were followed.
COMMENT: If it’s true, as alleged by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad that 700, 000 Chinese nationals would be given ICs in Malaysia — albeit Iskandar Malaysia — we can fall back on law to keep things in perspective.
The law states that foreigners can qualify for ICs in Malaysia — green (temporary residence), red (permanent residence), blue (citizenship) — provided procedures in the Federal Constitution and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) were followed.
Mahathir has been quoted as saying in the media, at around the time of the Royal Commision of Inquiry (RCI), that if Tunku Abdul Rahman could give citizenships to two million Chinese after 1957, there no reason why foreigners in Sabah should be left out.
There are no parallels between Tunku’s supposedly two million Chinese, the claimed figure of 700, 000 and the 600, 000 in Sabah allegedly with dubious ICs and/or IMM13 “refugee” papers.
As the RCI Report on illegal immigrants makes clear, “syndicates and rogue elements” swamped Sabah with foreigners on Mahathir’s watch.
The former Prime Minister allegedly followed no procedures on ICs and citizenship in Sabah during his 22 years as Prime Minister.
For example, on paper there are no Malays in Sabah. Hence, Chong Eng Leong asks in his “Lest we forget — Security and sovereignty in Sabah”, where the 303, 500 (2,000 figure) “Malays” in Sabah came from.
The “Malays” in Sabah include two men who were dragged to court in Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu viz. the case of Salman Majid from Pakistan and Mohd Majid Kani from India, respectively. Both, as it transpired in court, hold blue ICs based on local birth certificates. They have Malaysian passports.
Citizenship in Malaysia, under operation of law, is not by birth but by descent.
The Federal Constitution, under Article 160, defines three categories of Malays viz. Muslims, speaking Malay, and born in Singapore or Malaya before Merdeka (1957); Muslims, speaking Malay, and domiciled in Singapore or Malaya before 31 Aug 1957; and the descendants of the first and second categories.
Besides operation of law, there’s citizenship by registration i.e. for those born in Malaysia of naturalised citizens.
Citizenship by naturalisation was for those who were born overseas and ran the gauntlet of green and red ICs first, after having entered the country legally with entry permits and work permits.
The 2010 population census by the Statistics Department showed there were only 1.5 million locals in Sabah. Of the 1.7 million foreigners, 700, 000 had work permits, 400, 000 were undocumented and 600, 000 allegedly had dubious ICs and/or 1MM13 papers. The “refugees” numbered less than 80, 000 people.
On a personal note, Mahathir was listed as born on Dec 20, 1925 in Malaya.
However, he has told the media that he was actually born on July 10 in the same year. Apparently, his birth was registered late “owing to ignorance on the part of his father”. Mahathir’s authorised biography, “Profile in Courage” by J. V. Morais, says that his (Mahathir’s) father was a teacher.