22 MARCH 2016
The banning of Parti Amanah Negara President Mohamad Sabu from Sarawak by the Chief Minister is mystifying and disappointing. Mat Sabu is a well-regarded politician known to be a moderate Muslim, hardly belonging to the category of racial bigots and extremists, whom the CM had said he would ban from Sarawak.
There is no basis for the banning of political leaders from West Malaysia. The Immigration Act specifically allows the entry of Malaysians for legitimate political activities. Opposition and NGO leaders such as Nurul Izzah, Rafizi Ramli, Zuraida Kamaruddin, Tony Pua, Teresa Kok and Ambiga Sreenevasan are advocates for the rights of the people to a true democracy, freedom of speech and assembly, and for fairness, justice and equality. There is nothing objectionable about any of these aspirations. The only reason I can think of for the Chief Minister’s ban on them is to stop them from bringing their message of change to Sarawakians. What is there to fear if you have been serving the people well?
There was no reason given for the banning of Mat Sabu. The irresistible conclusion is that this is a political move aimed at obstructing the opposition parties from carrying out their work. This is an abuse of our immigration autonomy, and it is disappointing that we are not progressing as a democracy under this Chief Minister, as we had hoped to.
The Deputy Home Minister has defended the Chief Minister’s ban, saying it is the prerogative of Sarawak to deny any individual from entering. It is precisely because this is a prerogative power that the exercise of this discretion must be carried out in good faith. It was never the intention of those who fought for this autonomy that it be used for political purposes. By continuing his predecessor’s high-handed practice of banning opposition politicians from West Malaysia, the Chief Minister has shown that he is, in fact, not that much different from the previous administration, in spite of what he says and the image he seeks to portray.
ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan
Chairman, PKR Sarawak