James Masing reportedly said that the state government need not give reason to bar non-Sarawakians from Sarawak, as though this is to uphold the constitutional rights of Sarawakians. However any simple reasoning will shows that any unaccountable power can be and has been abused-including barring non-Sarawakians from Sarawak. It is reasonable for barring people on security ground if there is basis to believe that certain person pose security risk. But politicians can abuse the power by barring persons whom they don’t like -which can range from people (judging from past records) who are Member of Parliament, election observers, civil society members etc. The ground for barring them can be purely to stop fair criticisms on eg questionable conduct of elections. Nothing to do with security. It could also be accountability and transparency issues under concern of good governance. Issues relating to the CM’s well-reported personal wealth have been asked in media, even by Sarawakians themselves. To bar non-Sarawakians who ask similar questions obviously represent an abuse of power! It would be contrary to uphold Sarawakians’ rights and interests to bar the people concerned while it only serve the purpose of some politicians who want to cover up these embarrassing issues from becoming public knowledge!
So it does not make sense to bar people from Sarawak without giving any reason. Unless James Masing is also benefiting from the same politicians who enrich themselves at the people’s expense!
No entry our right
by Peter Sibon firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted on June 15, 2011, Wednesday
Sarawak has autonomy on immigration, doesn’t need to give reasons for preventing anyone’s entry
KUCHING: Sarawak’s autonomous rights, especially those regarding its immigration laws, should not be questioned, said Parti Rakyat Sarawak president Tan Sri Dr James Masing.
He reasoned that these were the prerequisites the state insisted on when it agreed to form the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, telling those who questioned the autonomous rights of the state to refer to history books or read the Federal Constitution.
As such, he said it was unnecessary for the state authorities to give reasons for barring anyone from entering the state.
“When some politicians and members of the NGOs from Peninsular Malaysia are barred from entering Sarawak, they should never question the state authorities on such issues.
“In fact, they should understand that Sarawak has its own autonomy and by that, it means that we don’t have to give any reason and explanation to refuse anyone’s entry,” Masing told The Borneo Post here yesterday.
“We normally stop those who pose a security threat to the state.”
He was commenting on Coalition for Fair and Free Elections (Bersih) chairperson Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan’s action in filing a suit against the Sarawak government for barring her entry into the state two months ago, saying the move was against the Federal Constitution.
She had told The Malaysian Insider that she had filed a suit against the state government and the case would be heard on July 13.
Masing, who is also the Minister of Land Development, stressed that as a lawyer herself, Ambiga should understand the law better.
“There should be no issue. After all, the constitution has been there all these while. Please don’t politicise these rights as we also don’t question the rights of others,” he said.
Ambiga claimed she was stopped at the Kuching International Airport on April 15, saying she was given no reason on why she was barred from entering Sarawak where she was to monitor the polling process the next day.
The former Malaysian Bar president was travelling with two other Bersih committee members, namely Subramaniam Pillay, a member of Aliran, and Arul Prakash, a programme officer of Komas and Ivy Josiah, executive director of Women’s Aid Organisation.
However, the other trio were allowed in.
By that, Ambiga has joined a list of activists, including Steven Ng, Cynthia Gabriel, Wong Chin Huat, Johan Tan and Subang PKR MP Sivarasa Rasiah, who were denied entry to the state in the days leading up to the state election in Sarawak, which the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) easily retained.
Bersih has demanded that Suhakam investigate the “abuse and arbitrary use of powers” by the Immigration Department and the Sarawak state authorities.