By TAY TIAN YAN
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
Contrary to many people's negative response, I look at the formation of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into Sabah's long-standing illegal immigrants problem in a positive way, and I am really looking forward to it.
To put it simple, just because of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad alone, there are definitely reasons to set up the RCI.
I have no intention to innuendo, I just read his comments on his blog written, "On the basis of the length of stay and mastering of the national language, they qualify to be citizens of this country, and so the acquired citizenship”.
That's all. It is very easy to gain Malaysian citizenship. You can get an identity card as long as you stay for a period of time in the country, regardless of whether you enter the country legally or illegally; and master the national language, regardless of whether with Indonesian or Filipino slang.
No wonder there are rumours about the Project IC or Project M since a decade ago. Under the project, the country welcomes Filipinos and Indonesians with widely open arms and identity cards are issued to them very quickly. Similar to other Malaysians whose ancestors have long been here, they master the national language, love the country and when the time comes, line up to vote.
Here lies the problem. Illegal immigrants come to earn money while the authorities give them political rights. They are mutually benefiting, establishing a symbiotic relationship.
According to the population statistics, the Sabah population in 2010 increased to 3.12 million, a jump of 390% from 651,304 in 1970.
The 390% increase is not because of an extraordinarily high fertility rate, but is most likely because many foreigners, who have lived here for a period of time and mastered the national language, have become Malaysian citizens, through Mahathir's logic.
It is indeed necessary for the RCI to investigate whether such a citizenship acquisition is legal and who is actually responsible to it.
The illegal immigrant problem was worse with most changes during Mahathir's administration. The RCI should summon Mahathir to hear his noble words, as well as explanation for some key points.
It is also controversial that the large number of immigrants has changed the state's political ecology. The ratio of Muslim Bumiputeras has greatly increased while the number of Sabah Umno members has also increased by times.
The Sabah political arena was ruled by three racial groups in the 1960s to 1980s. The balance power among Muslim, Kadazan and Chinese enabled them to maintain tolerance and pluralism.
Under Mahathir's leadership, Umno entered Sabah and together with the change of the state's political ecology, Sabah Umno gained the dominance and since then, leads the overall situation.
The political power of the Kadazan and Chinese have been weakened and thus, discontent is sown.
Under pressure, Najib tries to appease the non-Muslims' discontent by setting up the RCI. However, the move has at the same time triggered rebound from the right wing and vested interest groups of Sabah Umno.
The RCI is definitely necessary for the state's own good. The RCI members must do their best while the people should give support.