Sue Taib if your were banned from Sarawak
Sarawak has no right to bar West Malaysians with proper travel documents from entering the state unless they have been ‘officially’ classified as ‘dangerous’.
We have witnessed over the years , prominent people from West Malaysia who have been denied entry into Sarawak.
Despite having all the necessary travel documents and applying to enter the state on a social visit pass, these people could not pass the immigration point upon the order from the Sarawak authorities.
Let us analyse the issues involved. Firstly, Article 9(2) of the Federal Constitution pledges to uphold the democratic personal right of all Malaysians to travel and stay in any part of the country.
Secondly , the 1963 Malaysia Agreement recognises the need to protect the special rights of both the peoples of Sarawak and Sabah in respect of employment and economic opportunities from being taken away by West Malaysians.
Consequently the special provision to safeguard such interests was incorporated into the Malaysia Immigration Act under sections 62-66.
The special provision for Sarawak and Sabah is meant to regulate and control the entry of West Malaysians into the two states, who intend to seek employment and carry out business activities there.
Hence, West Malaysians are required to produce their passports or identity cards upon arrival and to apply for work permit if they wish to work in the two states.
It does not, however, give the two state governments the outright power to bar or ban any individual West Malaysian from entering the two states on a social visit.
We have seen how the state government of Sarawak, through its immigration department, has from time to time imposed an outright and selective ban against certain personalities from entering Sarawak.
We can deduce that such an action by the Sarawak government violates the following:
– Universal democratic personal right of all Malaysians
– The supremacy of the Federal Constitution
– The sanctity of the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and;
– Jostles the national spirit of 1Malaysia.
Let us examine how the act of barring and banning the said entry can bring further detrimental personal consequences to the affected victims.
To bar and to ban West Malaysians from entering the state, we have to first examine the type of actions applied by the Sarawak government in exercising this special power.
There are only two instances where the state authority can bar or impose a ban on West Malaysians upon entering the state.
Firstly the state immigration department can bar a West Malaysian visitor from entering the state if he has no proper travel and entry documents namely an international passport or an identity card.
If a West Malaysian possesses these two documents, he should be entitled to a social visit pass. There is no way the immigration officers can bar him from entry .
Taib’s personal agenda
Under the same circumstances, if a foreigner has the legal documents namely the international passport and the relevant visa where necessary, he is also entitled to a social visit pass to stay for a limited time in the state.
So if both the foreigner and the West Malaysian have the necessary documents, how can a foreigner be allowed into the state while the West Malaysian is barred? What kind of law is Chief Minister Taib Mahmud applying here ?
It is no more about the state special right but Taib’s personal agenda!
Secondly the state immigration department may ban a West Malaysian from entering the state despite having the necessary travel documents provided he is blacklisted by the federal authorities for some security reasons or declared as a wanted person by the police or considered as an unwanted element by society.
Such categorising of individuals must be supported with proofs or reports from the police or any authorised body.
Banning a person from entering a country or state is a serious matter and has adverse implications on one’s reputation especially if the person is a prominent leader, politician, lawyer, activist and the like.
It gives the implication in the eyes of the nation that he has commited a serious crime against the government and people. Based on records, in all cases, the persons involved all possess the proper travel documents and they are people of good reputation .
Hence to stop Taib from robbing the right of West Malaysians to travel in the future, I propose that visitors demand that the immigration officers prove that the visitors do not possess the proper documents upon arrival at any check point before they can bar them.
The immigration officers must have documentary proof that the visitors have been officially categorised as dangerous persons to the state before imposing an outright entry ban.
Secondly, I propose that those who have been victims of the Chief Minister’s abuse of the immigration powers, unite and start to file a joint libel suit against him and his subordinates for wrongful acts of barring and or banning them from entering the state.
Awang Abdillah is a Kuching-based activist.