Shah Alam (The Star/ANN) - Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad admitted that officials gave foreigners in Sabah identity cards but said it was done legally.
However, he said he was not aware if former deputy home minister Megat Junid Megat Ayub ordered them to be issued on purpose ahead of the 1994 state elections.
"If he did it before the state elections, that is either coincidental or deliberate, I wouldn't know, but it is within the law," he said yesterday.
Dr Mahathir was also home minister from 1986 to 1999.
He added that foreigners were legally given citizenships as long as they fulfilled certain criteria.
He was responding to news reports that a former Sabah National Registration Department official told a Royal Commission of Inquiry that Megat Junid ordered temporary identification receipts of lost or damaged ICs to be given to foreigners.
This was supposedly done two weeks before the 1994 state elections.
Dr Mahathir said the foreigners who were issued identity cards had been living in Sabah for between 20 and 30 years.
Asked if the issuance of citizenship to foreigners was politically motivated, Dr Mahathir said that not all of them were supporters of Barisan Nasional, the ruling political coalition.