Friday, March 28, 2014

Bar associations slam Sarawak govt's entry ban as unconstitutional

KUCHING (March 27): Three Bars of Malaysia have strongly condemned Sarawak government’s unconstitutional move to deny politicians from the opposition entry in the state.
The three Bars of Malaysia – Advocates’ Association of Sarawak, Sabah Law Association and the Malaysian Bar, in a joint statement today, urged the state government to immediately reconsider the entry ban.
“We call on the Sarawak state government to immediately reconsider the entry ban that it has imposed, and to cease and desist from resorting to such action unless with a justifiable cause," said the statement, which was issued by Advocates' Association of Sarawak president Khairil Azmi Mohd Hasbie, Sabah Law Association G B B Nandy @ Ganesh and Malaysia Bar President Christopher Leong.
Further, the three Bars of Malaysia also urged both the state and federal governments to take positive steps to safeguard each citizen’s right to travel freely and peacefully within his or her own country.
On Tuesday, three PKR leaders - PKR strategist Rafizi Ramli, vice president Tian Chua and secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution were stopped when they arrived at Sibu airport.
PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was allowed in but the chief minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said the state could kick him out if “he tried to be naughty”.
Today, PKR wanita chief and Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin was stopped at Sibu Airport upon her arrival at around 2.30pm.  
“This measure by which the state government has chosen to act goes directly against the guarantee of freedom of movement enshrined in Article 9 of the Federal Constitution. Under Article 9, every citizen of Malaysia has the right to move freely throughout the Federation.”
Notwithstanding the special safeguards accorded to Sarawak under the Federal Constitution, the three Bars of Malaysia strongly urged the Sarawak government to exercise sparingly, fairly and with just cause the statutory powers it has over immigration and border controls.
Section 67 of the Immigration Act 1959/63 makes it clear that the State’s powers to restrict entry shall not have effect on a citizen who can show that he or she enters the state for the sole purpose of engaging in legitimate political activity.
“In a country that professes democracy and free elections, such powers to restrict must not be used to obstruct the rights of citizens to participate freely and legally in the country’s public affairs,” read the statement.
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