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Three men, including an officer with the National Registration Department, were recently detained by police, indicating continuing problems of immigrants obtaining birth certificates and identification cards by illegal means. NSTP/Malai Rosmah Tuah

KOTA KINABALU: The continued existence of fake identity syndicates issuing documents to foreigners in Sabah have far-reaching consequences.

Three men, including an officer with the National Registration Department, were recently detained by police, indicating continuing problems of immigrants obtaining birth certificates and identification cards by illegal means.

United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun and Murut Organisation secretary-general Nelson Angang said the bust in Semporna on July 23 should be viewed as a threat to national security especially with the involvement of someone from NRD.

"Upko applaud the swift action of the police and hope this would be a warning to those who still continue to threaten the sovereignty of our country by this deplorable method," he said.

Angang said such syndicates have long existed and it was established in the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Immigrants in Sabah in 2012 that NRD officers were involved.

He said NRD had admitted then that there were 113,850 identity cards deemed problematic.

"Out of these 113,850, around 51,300 of ICs were issued based on statutory declarations and the remaining 62,550 did not contain full records except photocopies and that there was no information whether their applications were supported by a statutory declaration.

"Surprisingly, even with these shortcomings, they are still registered in the NRD records," Angang added.

"In the RCI findings, local birth certificates were sold for RM3,500 and for identification card it could be purchased between RM2,000 to RM5,000 each depending on the locality and quality of the identification card.

"In the recent arrest, the amount paid to obtain illegal birth certificates and IC is the same or still within the range of what was reported in the RCI where it was reported that birth certificates are sold for RM3,500 and ICs for RM6,000.

"Even though it was reported that documents (in the latest case) seized such as applications forms, documents and chop from NRD, health clinics, Hospitals, Native Court, village chiefs and the Sabah Islamic Religious Affairs Department were found to be fake, it still raises grave concerns on whether there are those and how many of them who had manage to successfully obtained identification cards from these illegal methods."

He said the problem of immigrants registered in the NRD system and the electoral roll would also trigger more concerns as the country move towards automatic voter registration.

"Upko elected representatives have been vocal about this issue in parliament even as to the recent passing of the automatic voters’ registration and the lowering the age of voters to 18 years old," he said, assuring the party will continue pursuing the issue until it is resolved.

"Having syndicates continuously selling birth certificates and identification card only confirms that the problems haven’t stopped and are very much alive.

"These problems are not mere suspicions or based on unfounded allegations but in fact has been reported and concluded in the RCI findings in 2012.

"We have witnesses in the RCI who themselves admitted to having illegally purchased birth certificates and identification cards and have voted in numerous general elections," Angang said.

"If the government is not serious in finding a solution, those illegal immigrants who are still registered in the electoral rolls and with the possibility of more will be registered from tainted NRD records, will have a hand in deciding the government of the day.

"This directly affects the country's sovereignty and put a question mark on the sanctity of our nation's election process especially in Sabah.”

Earlier, opposition Parti Bersatu Sabah president Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili had urged the authorities to widen the scope of their investigations into the case.

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