Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants in Sabah

The Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants in Sabah was formed on 11 August 2012 to investigate the problems relating to citizenship and immigrants in the state of Sabah in Malaysia. The inquiry is closely related to Project IC, the alleged systematic granting of citizenship to foreigners.


On 1 June 2012, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that the federal government has agreed to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to investigate problems related to illegal immigration in Sabah.[1] The Attorney-General of Malaysia was entrusted to draw the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the purpose of the commission. On 11 August 2012, the government officially announced the formation of the RCI including the members of the commission and the TORs. Political commentators have observed that the RCI appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to the defection of several prominent Sabahan BN politicians, who resigned in protest only a few days earlier because of the federal government's reluctance to deal with Sabah's immigration problems.

The commission began its public hearings on 14 January 2013.[2]


The commission member[3] are as follows:

Terms of Reference[]

There are 8 TORs:[4]

a) Sabah citizens residing in the state, including those given blue ICs or citizenships through birth certificates (late registration);
b) foreign workers (including family members);
c) illegal immigrants (including family members); and
d) fugitives
and to study their impact on the number of those registered in the electoral roll;



Former Sabah chief minister Harris Salleh testified in the inquiry that the final authority to grant citizenship to foreigners is with the federal government. He also denied the existence of Project IC.[5]

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad admitted that Filipino immigrants were granted citizenship in Sabah, but insists that everything was done legally.[6]

Former Sabah National Registration Department (NRD) deputy director Mohd Nasir Sugip told the commission that the former Sabah Election Commission director had ordered Sabah NRD to register 16,000 immigrants. He also added that the NRD and EC had collaborated to increase the number of Muslim voters in Sabah.[7]

Dissident blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin wrote in Malaysia Today that there is a plot by the Barisan Nasional government to increase the Muslim population in Sabah to retain power in the state.[8]

List of hearings sessions[]

The Royal Commission of Inquiry start its first hearing session began on 14 January 2013

Date Title Public hearing / Government Body


Report findings[]

The Royal Commission after going through a nine months of hearings and 211 witnesses, released a 366-page report.[9][10] In the report several statements and recommendations were made:[11][12]

Sabah RCI Roundtable[]

The Jeffrey Cheah Institute held a roundtable discussion on 17th Dec to discuss the RCI Report. Moderated by Prof James Chin, a well-known political scientist, two senior Sabah politicians took part. They were:

The webcast can be seen here [1]


  1. ^ "Najib announces setting up of RCI to probe issue of illegal immigrants in Sabah". Borneo Post Online. 2 June 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  2. ^ "RCI on Sabah immigrant issue begins public hearings from Monday". The Star (Malaysia). 11 January 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  3. ^ "RCI on illegal immigrants". Borneo Post Online. 12 August 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  4. ^ "IC-for-votes claim focus of Sabah RCI". The Malaysian Insider. 11 August 2012. Archived from the original on 18 August 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  5. ^ "Ex-Sabah CM Harris denies 'Project IC'". The Malaysian Insider. 15 January 2013. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  6. ^ "RCI Sabah: Tun M Akui Kerajaan Beri Kerakyatan Sah" (in Malay). mStar Online. 17 January 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  7. ^ "EC ordered NRD to give ICs, change immigrants' names, RCI told". The Malaysian Insider. 16 January 2013. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  8. ^ "This is no conspiracy theory". Malaysia Today. 18 January 2013. Archived from the original on 21 January 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  9. ^ Melissa Chi; Julia Chan (3 December 2014). "'Corrupt officials' blamed for Sabah problems, but RCI says hands tied". The Malay Mail. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  10. ^ "Corrupt officials, syndicates behind Sabah's Project IC, no names revealed". The Malaysian Insider. 3 December 2014. Archived from the original on 14 December 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  11. ^ Melissa Goh (3 December 2014). "Malaysia inquiry on Sabah illegal migrants fails on solutions". Channel News Asia. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  12. ^ "RCI moots 'permanent secretariat' to oversee all Sabah immigrant issues". The Malay Mail. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2014.