ROSE Condemns Entry Restrictions during Sarawak Elections Period

Whoever becomes the ruling government after Polling Day of the Sarawak Elections runs the risk of being labeled as illegitimate. In a democracy like ours, free and fair elections are integral and governments elected into power are deemed legitimate as a result of being there by the ‘will of the people’. 

ROSE has received reports from various west Malaysians entering Sarawak in the last couple of days  have not been given the 90-days social visit pass but instead have had this shortened ridiculously to the 5th May 2016. Those affected appears to be opposition political parties and activities and according to DAP it is designed to stop campaigners and polling and counting agents to come in from West Malaysia. If so this will certainly have an impact on manpower and resources of the political parties who might be handicapped by such seemingly arbitrary and unreasonable restriction.

Polling and Counting Agents are usually either party workers or volunteers who are authorized by election laws to be the candidate’s representative or agent inside each room where the polls take place and votes are counted.

Rose also received random reports that even businessmen and holiday-makers coming in from the Peninsular have also been similarly affected. This does not augur well for the state’s tourism and revenue from visitors in general.

Adenan had previously stated that those affected like CM of Penang Lim Guan Eng and MB of Selangor Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and others will be allowed back after the state elections. One wonders how the state government can still say that this is not for political reasons or as quoted ‘to keep unsavoury people out of Sarawak’.

*One of the points in the BN Manifesto for State Elections is it will not ‘hesitate to use our immigration laws to keep out extremists and any form of negative elements’.

The barring of ADUNs and MPs from the opposition camp the last few weeks has gone beyond keeping unsavoury or negative elements out of Sarawak. In fact it is a blatant breach and disregard of Section 67 of the Immigration Act which provides for entry into Sarawak for the “sole purpose of engaging in legitimate political activity”. Section 67 is under PART VII of the Immigration Act (Special Provisions for East Malaysia) which is the manifestation of one of the terms of the Malaysia Agreement as part of the founding documents for birth of  Malaysia. Hence any breach thereof is politically and constitutionally significant.

ROSE is of the opinion that West Malaysians here to be campaigners and agents for the Sarawak Elections would be engaging in ‘legitimate political activity’. Anyone who is a Malaysian citizen and is  21 years old and above and has not been convicted of any crime under the relevant election law within the last 5 years is entitled to enter Sarawak without restrictions and can legally act and serve as PA/CA .

ROSE therefore strongly urges the State Authority to act within the constitutional limits and remove all entry restrictions on an URGENT basis in the run up to 7th May 2016, failing which this election cannot be deemed to be a free or fair contest. It instead tarnishes the next government. Needless to say such prohibitions  also compromises the integrity of our electoral process. 

ROSE is a civil society promoting voters education, free and fair elections and citizens participation in the electoral process and has been doing Polling and Counting Agents training to raise volunteers to promote free and fair elections.

End of Statement.

2nd May 2016

Contact person for Media Ann Teo ( Team Leader ROSE)  : 0168604998

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