Press Statement: Bersih Sabah makes recommendations for RCI
KOTA KINABALU:Bersih Sabah calls on the government to allow views from civil society to be considered in the formation of the Royal Commision of Inquiry (RCI) and the drafting of the Terms of Reference (TOR).
According to Bersih Sabah spokesperson Andrew Ambrose (also known as Atama), “While we welcome the announcement, we also wish that the government would listen to its own people. We want to contribute and help the government in its effort in establishing a comprehensive and all-encompassing RCI.”
The issue of undocumented migrants and “new citizens” is a hotly debated topic among politicians and locals alike in Sabah. According to replies provided in Parliament last year, Sabah’s population was 651,304 in 1970 and grew to 929,299 a decade later. But in the two decades following 1980 the state’s population rose by a staggering 1.5 million people, thus reaching 2,468,246 by 2000.
The issue of forming a RCI is nothing new, as it has been called on by several politicians in the state as far back as in year 2008. Earlier this year, high-profile Sabah BN leaders had claimed that cabinet had approved the establishment of the much anticipated RCI on Feb 8. But the people of Sabah were yet again disappointed as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak chose to remain mum on the issue.
It was only 4 months later, on the 1st of June, the RCI was announced, minus further information on the TOR and its members. And now after over 2 months of more anxious waiting, we are finally rewarded with the announcement by our Prime Minister that the establishment of RCI and that the TOR of the same has been finalised and will be announced next Saturday, 11 August 2012.
On that note, Bersih Sabah would like to remind the government that it should be a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people”. Bersih calls for transparency in the administration and not keep the people in the dark.
Andrew stressed further that “We Sabahans have been inundated with too many announcements, with too little action taken taken. It’s time that the government step up with real and impactful actions and solutions to solidify the promises they have made to the people.”
As such, Bersih Sabah recommends a number of points that should be taken into consideration when drafting the TOR.
Amongst the points recommended was that the RCI must cover the issues of foreigners being made citizens of Malaysia (Project IC); the presence of illegal aliens within the boundaries of this country especially in Sabah; as well as the issue of stateless people within Sabah.
Bersih Sabah also firmly believes that the culprits must be charged in court and punishable by law, and also allowing amnesty for witnesses to protect those who testify in court.
The RCI should also, most importantly, be chaired by a Sabahan of high integrity. The Bersih Sabah committee suggests the best person for the job should be the Right Honourable Chief Judge in the Court of Sabah and Sarawak.
In addition, Bersih Sabah welcomes international and impartial observers in the RCI to ensure better transparency, and also because the RCI involves investigation of foreigners granted citizenship.
On a related note, Andrew further emphasised that as concerned members of the public, Bersih Sabah would like to see the 8 Demands of Bersih to be fulfilled – including the cleaning up the electoral roll, usage of indelible ink, free and fair access to the media, postal voting, the setting of minimum campaign period of 21 days, and strengthening public institutions such as the Election Commission to function independently of government.