RCI to investigate allegations of citizenship for votes in the Peninsula?

arl Wendell, a black poet, said – “It is easier to build monuments than to make a better world”. And Malaysia’s former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad proved him right. The country has one of the tallest buildings in Asia and yes we can use various other adjectives to boast about our monuments.

But as the ongoing Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) has proven, Mahathir is the chief engineer of the mess that Sabah faces now. The inquiry commission, mooted to look into Sabah’s population explosion, has exposed how undocumented immigrants were used as vote bank for the ruling coalition to stay in power.

It heard that over 80,000 of them from the Philippines were issued Malaysian identity cards and another 36,000 are on the waiting list. And some 200,000 citizenships were given to Sabah immigrants during Mahathir’s premiership in the 1990s in return for votes.

And this figure could very well be a conservative estimate.

Sabah’s population grew from under one million in 1980 to more than three million today. Foreigners make up 28% of that number, a larger proportion than the biggest indigenous group in the state on Borneo Island.

The revelations at the RCI are shocking. But it also raises questions about the electoral roll for the entire country and not just Sabah. Since the 2008 polls, the opposition-held Selangor’s electoral roll has shot up by 22% compared to a national average of 16.3%.

Some 31,294 voters in the country have been transferred out of their last parliamentary and state constituencies without their consent. There are 1000 voters aged more than 100 and in many instances more than 100 people share the same address.

In the Klang parliamentary constituency about 2000 names have been transferred out of the constituency and another 3000 names have gone missing from the electoral roll. And about 500 voters residing in a particular Taman have been moved to a neighboring constituency.

These facts and figures concretely show that the electoral roll that would be used by the Election Commission at the next general election is riddled with irregularities. And the polls are around the corner.

Whether or not Najib is ready, Parliament will automatically dissolve on April 27 and the prime minister will be forced to face the voters within two months from that date. And it’s an open secret that the next general election would be the most closely fought in the country’s history, if not the dirtiest. And therefore every vote counts.

Therefore the nation cannot go to the polls following evidence of phantom voters and a tainted electoral roll. As such I support the call by Bersih chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan to moot another RCI to look into the allegations of citizenship for votes in the Peninsula as well.

And I am going to take a step further and invite Mahathir to support the call for a RCI for the country. We all know he is hugely irritated and feeling the heat as the prime mover behind the citizenship for vote strategy.

But hopefully his angst will settle and he could behave like a statesman for once. It’s also about time he stops his nonsensical ramblings about the pre-independence migrants who were given citizenships.

I am aware of Mahathir’s mischief and his moronic ways of slamming the Chinese and Indian immigrants who play a big role in the development of the nation. And we are also too familiar with his devious tactics of further dividing the nation along racial lines. Maybe this time around he is also upset that another blow to his image would act as an obstacle to push his son, Mukhriz Mahathir, further up the political ladder, inching him towards the premiership one day.

Whatever it is, as a last chance to make amends and clear up the mess he created, Mahathir should let go of stupid demands and lobby for a RCI for the Peninsula.

Or he should stop spewing venom and retire quietly.

MP for Klang
Media statement by Charles Santiago in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, 21st January 2013