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Although we welcome the loosening of the entry restrictions into Sarawak issued by the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) on Saturday 16th October 2021, we query the discriminatory nature of the ruling/SOP when it was amended on Sunday, 17 October 2021. The latest ruling/SOP exempts fully vaccinated Sarawakians, Sarawakians born in other states, non-Sarawakian spouses, federal civil servants, those with valid work permits and holders of Sarawak MM2H visa from applying for permission to enter the state at the Enter Sarawak website. All other Malaysians must first apply for permission to enter Sarawak at the Enter Sarawak website prior to even flying.
What really is the reason for this discriminatory requirement? Since no RTK nor PCR tests are required anymore (save for foreigners), does this latest discriminatory ruling assume that only Sarawakians, and the categories stated above (as compared with all other non-Sarawakians) travelling from other states are immune from Covid 19 infection?
This SOP also makes a mockery of SDMC’s expertise. Surely with the many public health experts (we assume) advising them, the SDMC would have by now gathered enough scientific data and information about Covid 19 virus to inform the necessary public health and movement protocols put in place by SDMC. The virus does not discriminate infecting people on the basis of their place of birth/which state you are from.
Sadly, the discriminatory nature of this SOP also contradicts the state’s intention to attract domestic tourism in wanting to reopen the state’s economy. If any sector has been crushed by this COVID-19 pandemic, it is our tourism sector. Hence, why is SDMC being so heartless in denying our state’s tourism industry access to desperately needed business? Why make ourselves less competitive?
Surely #ReopeningSafely must also mean #ReopeningFairly. We call upon SDMC to immediately allow all fully vaccinated Malaysians to enter the state without having to apply.
These relaxed conditions of entry into Sarawak for only Sarawakians also suggests that the State Government expects Sarawakians to fly back to vote in the upcoming state elections. However, this does not mean that they - the Sarawakian-registered voters who reside in other states of Malaysia - are guaranteed to travel back due to travel costs and the need to take time off from work. Indeed, many have suffered too much financial setbacks these past two years to be able to do this.
Making non-Sarawakians apply to enter the State in the manner set out in the recently revised rule/SOP also suggests that SDMC can now act in an arbitrary manner in deciding who can and who cannot enter Sarawak. It also leaves us to speculate that this rule means that the SDMC can bar entries of election volunteers and helpers who are not Sarawakians but who are coming to Sarawak for legitimate political activity during an election. Will SDMC bar them but admit GPS-friendly helpers? How else does one read this latest discriminatory rule that is not in harmony with the science on how COVID spreads?
Thus, instead of SDMC playing a professional role to manage and control the risks associated with the spread of the Covid 19 virus, it now is acting like some quasi-immigration authority guided by protocols that are not based on the science.
This is also the time to remind the State Government that to hold the Sarawak elections before the end of 2021 is to deny and suppress the votes of more than 600,000 new Sarawakian voters who will only get onto the electoral roll upon implementation of Undi 18 and AVR.
19th October 2021
Statement released by Persatuan Pemangkin Daya Masyarakat (R.O.S.E.)
Media contact person: Ann Teo (President) 0168604998