KOTA KINABALU: Barisan Nasional was not involved in issuing Malaysian identification cards to foreigners, says Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
"We are not involved in giving out ICs. We're not," he said in response to accusations by Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili that a party in the previous Barisan Nasional government had done so.
"Whatever happened in the past, we want it corrected," he said at a press conference after delivering a talk titled "Bicara Negarawan" at the ITCC Hall in Penampang yesterday.
Najib added that during his tenure as prime minister between 2009 and 2018, he put a PBS leader in charge of sorting out the issue, without naming the individual.
Asked why Ongkili, a former minister in his Cabinet, raised the issue during the recent PBS congress, Najib replied: "I don't know why he did it."
The Pekan MP was apparently referring to the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the illegal immigrant woes in Sabah in 2013 where former PBS president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan was appointed to head a committee to implement various recommendations from the RCI.
Najib, who is Barisan adviser, said it was important for Sabah to strengthen its borders and security while working towards developing the state.
On Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob's call to Barisan leaders and members to stop the attacks on the government, Najib said he and the coalition's deputy chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan, who is also Unmo deputy president, had already made it clear to the media on Umno's full support for Ismail Sabri as Prime Minister.
"We did not attack him (Ismail). Maybe there are several who did but they are not from Umno. Ismail Sabri has the support of Umno," added Najib.
Mohamad was quoted as saying Umno agreed that Ismail was their candidate for the prime minister's post in the coming general election.
Earlier, Najib acknowledged the mistake by Barisan in delaying the date of the 14th general election.
"We should have done it straight after the SEA Games in 2017.
"The gap allowed the Opposition to consolidate and build their coalition and form lies against us, which led to Barisan's downfall," he said.
On his view on whether Barisan can win back its one-time stronghold Sabah, he said they hoped to have a good margin of victory with support from the grassroots.
On other matters, Najib said Barisan would focus on the Dasar Pandang Borneo (Look East Borneo) policy to tap the development potential of both Sabah and Sarawak.
With Indonesia shifting its capital from Jakarta to Kalimantan, Najib said there was also a need to boost economic activities in the two states because development capacity in the peninsula had reached its maximum.
"Sabah itself has one of the best tourism products with natural resources.
"With a good tourism master plan, there will be a lot of high-paying jobs and business opportunities," he added.
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