BALINGIAN Three top PKR leaders who flew into Sarawak to campaign for the party's candidate in the Balingian by-election were held back at Sibu airport today.
In an earlier statement today, PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil said party secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution (right) arrived in Sibu at 11am and was told the Chief Minister's Office had on March 22 issued an order barring him from entering the state.
Later this afternoon, PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli and vice-president Tian Chua were also similarly barred from entering Sarawak. All three were forced to fly back to Kuala Lumpur.
"PKR strongly condemns this anti-democratic action.
"It is clear the iron-fist influence of Taib Mahmud is still widespread, even though there is a new chief minister. Such influence retards the development of democracy in Sarawak," Fahmi said.
Rafizi tweeted about his dilemma in a stoic message.
"Ha ha... the shortest trip ever - 10 minutes. Thanks to Sibu immigration officers who were kind to us. Am waiting for my deportation paper," Rafizi, who is also the Pandan MP, wrote on @rafiziramli.
Sarawak PKR has expressed concern that the state authorities might also bar PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim from campaigning in the Balingian by-election, for which polling will be on March 29.
“I heard that a PBB minister favours that,” said See Chee How, Sarawak PKR vice-chairperson and PKR director of operations for the party’s candidate, Abdul Jalil Bujang.
See said PKR would seek judicial intervention if Anwar is banned from entering the state, even though he is doubtful Sarawak BN has the political will to hold to its commitment to keep out racist and religious bigots.
Anwar is due to visit Mukah on Tuesday to support Abdul Jalil who is in a straight fight with BN-PBB’s Yussibnosh Balo.
The by-election was called after former Sarawak chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud stepped down and quit his seat of Balingian last month to take over as governor of the state.
In the last election, PKR’s candidate Suriati Abdullah obtained 871 votes against Taib, who secured 6,210 votes in a three-cornered fight.