ROSE views with grave concern the statement of our Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem which implied that he had given the orders to ban politicians from entering the state for the purposes of election campaigning, in the name of protecting the people of Sarawak from ‘unsavoury elements’. He had said that they were free to enter the State once the state elections are over.
The latest opposition politicians to be barred from the State is DAP MP for Kulai, Teo Nie Ching and Penang state Exco member Abdul Malik Abul Kassim (PKR) Others featured in the list of barred persons include DAP national publicity secretary, Tony Pua, PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli, and Amanah president, Mohammad Sabu.
ROSE sees this as a tightening of the democratic space in our state. Without the freedom to listen to differences in political views and opinions on issues which affect the rakyat, this places Sarawakians at a severe disadvantage when it comes to making informed decisions on the best candidate to vote for.
ROSE respectfully reminds the State that the freedom to campaign and actively participate in the political life of this state is one of the basic human rights put forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), of which Malaysia is a party. Article 21 (Right to Participate in Government and Free Elections) of the UDHR clearly states that everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, either directly or through representatives freely chosen through periodic and genuine elections. It further emphasizes that the authority of an elected government is based on the will of the rakyat.
Prohibiting entry of opposition politicians and civil society activists working on free and fair elections is a clear violation of this human right. This unhealthy practice does not bode well for the building of a vibrant and politically mature community.
We recognize that the State Government has unique powers in immigration controls as enshrined in the Immigration Act 1959/63. However, the Act also limits this power as evident from Section 67, which prohibits barring of entry on those who want to enter the state “for the sole purpose of engaging in legitimate political activity.”
Election campaigning is without a doubt, a “legitimate political activity”. ROSE concurs with the views of BERSIH 2.0,that such actions and continued barring of non-Sarawakian politicians and activists is both illegal and undemocratic.
The indiscriminate banning of entry of non-Sarawakian politicians and activists is a blatant abuse of the immigration control point of the Malaysia Agreement 1963, which was originally intended to protect the livelihood of Sarawakians from economic competition by immigrants from Malaya and Singapore, at a time when Sarawak was still largely under-developed.
Last December, the CM gave assurance to The Centre to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4) that he would look into reviewing the state’s policy of banning ‘unwanted individuals’ from Peninsular Malaysia to enter Sarawak. However, this appears to not have been done but instead, the freedom to movement, assembly and expression continues to be tightened, especially at election time.
ROSE, therefore urges our Chief Minister to end this illegal practice and show Sarawakians that state government is capable of being reformed. In addition, ROSE urges affected persons to challenge the illegal banning of their entry to the State at the courts.
Dated : 15 April, 2016
Media contact person : Ann Teo - 016 8604 998