The barring of entry into Sarawak of Hindraf activist P Waythamoorthy yesterday shocked Sarawak PKR leaders.
Waythamoorthy was supposed to be one of the panel speakers at a public forum on the issue of Sedition Act which began at 2pm yesterday at a hotel in Kuching.
However, when he arrived at 11.15 am at the Kuching International airport, Immigration officials denied him entry.
He returned to Kuala Lumpur at 2pm.
Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian (right) questioned the rationale of the state government in barring the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) activist to enter Sarawak, bearing in mind he was a senator and a former deputy minister in Najib Abdul Razak’s cabinet until he resigned in February last year, as he felt not enough was being done for Indians.
“I have not heard of him thought of as a racist unlike (columnist) Ridhuan Tee Abdullah. Am I right?” said Bian when commenting on the barring of Waythamoorthy.
Ridhuan was denied entry on December 26, 2014. He was supposed to give a public talk in Sematan which was organised by some members of PBB seemingly without the knowledge of Chief Minister Adenan Satem. Adenan is the chairman of the Tanjung Datu branch.
Bian, who is the Ba’Kelalan assemblyperson, said Hindraf is an advocate for underprivileged Indians.
“I see nothing wrong with that. Therefore there are no grounds to bar him from entering Sarawak,” he said.
His colleague, Batu Lintang assemblyperson See Chee How, said that Waythamoorthy was not an extremist or a racist and should not be barred from entering Sarawak.
“Hindraf has never advocated hatred against any other races but has been highlighting the oppression, marginalisation, and the plight of the poor Indians in Malaysia. It is more a political movement,” said the vice-chairperson of Sarawak PKR.
Waythamoorthy, See (right) said, was made a deputy minister in the PM’s department after the last general election with no objections from the Sarawak state government.
“The barring of Waythamoorthy is purely political and hence obviously without legitimate and reasonable basis,” he alleged.
One of the organisers of the forum, Lina Soo, said that Waythamoorthy was an outstanding human rights activist who was not just defending Indian rights.
“He came to help us with our Sarawak problems and not for political mileage.
“We condemn the arbitrary abuse of power. I am told the directive came from the Home Ministry,” she said.
Soo also asked why the state government is welcoming 12,000 Bangladesh workers to Sarawak this year but bars one Malaysian Indian activist and lawyer.
Meanwhile, Waythamoorthy asked Borneo activists to pursue with their agenda without any fear.
“As I have said previously, it is their inherent right to seek self- determination. The proposed amendments to the Sedition Act have to be challenged legally in court,” he said.
Waythamoorthy is the latest addition to the list of ‘religious extremists and racial bigots’ who have been barred from entering the state.