Deja vu, paranoid old guards, petty politics and bla bla bla…

As a Sarawakian, I am ashamed to read these kind of news.

Sunday February 15, 2009
Sivarasa barred from Sarawak

KUCHING: PKR vice-president R. Sivarasa was denied entry into Sarawak yesterday, becoming the second politician from the party to be barred from the state.

The Subang MP was stopped by immigration officials at Kuching International Airport at 1.30pm and served with a notice of refusal of entry under Section 66(1) of the Immigration Act.

The reason given was that he was not from Sarawak and therefore not entitled to enter the state without a permit or pass.

Sivarasa, who last came to Sarawak in July last year to attend the World Rainforest Music Festival with his wife, said he was at a loss as to why he was denied entry.

And of course, we still remember just end of last year a similar treatment given to an opposition member:

Wednesday December 24, 2008
MP denied entry into Sarawak

A PKR parliamentarian has been denied entry into Sarawak by immigration officers at the Kuching International airport.

According to N Gobalakrishnan, who is MP for Padang Serai, the incident happened at around 5.30pm and he believed that it was politically motivated.

“The moment I reached the airport, immigration officers told me that I am not allowed to enter due to instructions from the state government,” he told Malaysiakini.

“The immigration officer gave me a notice which reads ‘Tuan bukan rakyat Sarawak, tidak berhak untuk masuk ke Sarawak tanpa permit atau pas Akta Imigresen 1959-1963’ (You are not a citizen of Sarawak and are not eligible to enter Sarawak without a permit or immigration pass).

Having visited Sarawak many times, Gobalakrishnan said he did not face any problems with the state immigration until this week.

Gobalakrishnan said his most recent visit to the state was last week when he was in Lubok Antu, south of Kuching, to help the locals in their Christmas preparation.

If it is not politically motivated, what is the possible reason for refusing their entry? Anyone who puts on a thinking cap would know that behind all the ‘excuses’ given for the decision, it is dirty politics rearing its ugly head.

Sarawak political leaders, especially the very top honcho is not feared (note that I used ‘feared’, not respected) for nothing. A dictator in his own class, definitely. Especially after his last competitor turns into some sorts of a political blogger, no longer (don’t believe me) dictacting the plays in the centre stage.

Why Sarawak BN ruling class so afraid of the opposition leaders? This is a democratic country, you either be part of the establishment or you be the opposition. That is how the system supposed to work,  where establishment (the government) and opposition should be given equal respect and treament to provide a better check and balance, but not here in Malaysia.

Being an opposition member or just by the virtue of being a supporter of opposition ideals in Malaysia is really sad. Opposition members and supporters are treated like pariahs by the establishment, often demonized through the government  controlled media. Threats and more than often, abuse of executive power is justified if it is used against the opposition.

It is a deja vu of sorts

The Sarawak BN ruling class has consistently abused this power over immigration to prevent those personalities identified as threats to the state government because of their political philosophies, activism and ideologies.

In 1978, when the DAP crossed the South China Sea and began setting up new branches in Sarawak, DAP national leaders then had been banned too from entering the state at immigration check point.

Lim Kit Siang, Lee Lam Thye, and Karpal Singh had all to be carried on a wheelchair onto the return flight to Kuala Lumpur at the Kuching airport.

During the 1991 general election in Sarawak, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, president of our then political partner Semangat 46 together with his partu other luminaries was also banned from entering Sarawak.

Suaram director Dr Kua Kia Soong was making numerous trips to the interior of Sarawak on many fact-finding missions on the problems faced by the Sarawak indigenous communities. Apparently, his findings were deemed too unfavourable to the state government there, so he was banned as well.

Not only by refusing entry, but Sarawak BN ruling class has also reject local community activists their application for a passport to travel overseas.

Since the early 1990s, and especially after the Rio Earth Summit, Sarawakian NGO personnel and community leaders like Thomas Jalong of the SAM Marudi office, Jok Jau Evong of the Rumah Bawang Residential Association, Gara Jalong of the Long Geng Kenyah community, Raymand Abin of the Borneo Resource Institute (Brimas), Wong Meng Chuo of the Institute for Development and Alternative Living (Ideal) and others have all been denied their passports.

Likewise, NGO activists such as Chee Yok Lin of Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and Meenakshi Raman, (legal adviser of the Consumer’s Association of Penang) as well as several other NGO personnel from the Peninsular and Sabah are still refused entry into Sarawak.

(Source: Malaysiakini)

It must be mind boggling for those who is in the dark, why should a citizen require a passport or a permit to travel to a territory within the Federation of Malaysia? To answer this question, we have to revisit the early days shortly before the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

It was a period of intense negotiations, fuelled by fear, confusion, and the imperative for the formation of Malaysia in view of the armed communist insurgency in Sarawak, the threat from the Indonesian Konfrontasi, and the recent armed revolt in Brunei led by Ahmad Azahari that spilled into Sarawak.

There were virulent voices in Sarawak against the Malaysian proposal then, mainly from the Sarawak Communist Party and their political front, the Sarawak United People’s Party (Supp). There was even talk of an alternative new political entity, to be composed of Sarawak, Brunei and the North Borneo Territory, later renamed Sabah.

For most pro-Malaysia political leaders in Sarawak, their greatest motivation was one of fear: the inability of the state to sustain itself on its own steam.

With a population of 800,000, and minuscule state revenue, how would Sarawak build its security forces to protect its territorial integrity? This Achilles’ heel had been made abundantly clear in those turbulent times of armed bloody conflicts in many parts of the state.

Another pull factor for these leaders was the successful land development programmes in Malaya at that time. It was thought at that time that if Sarawak joined Malaysia, the introduction of similar programmes would greatly help in the socio-economic development of this socio-economically backward state.

Then, another fear crept in. Some were worried that if the Sarawak immigration door was thrown open to the rest of the country, there would be a massive influx of West Malaysians, against whom, the yet-to-be-developed Sarawakians could not be able to compete.

Some kind of immigration safeguard was required to protect the interest of Sarawakians in the new federation of Malaysia.

This and other concerns have led to the signing of the Twenty Point Agreement that formed the basis of confederation of Malaysia, giving special, though limited, autonomy to Sarawak and Sabah. (Sarawak’s autonomy agreement is know as Eighteen Point Agreement)

(Source: Malaysiakini)

The sixth point of the Agreement states that:

“Control over immigration into any part of Malaysia from outside should rest with the central government but entry into Sarawak should also require the approval of the state government.

“The federal government should not be able to veto the entry of persons into Sarawak for state government purposes except on strictly security grounds. Sarawak should have unfettered control over the movements of persons other than those in federal government employ from other parts of Malaysia into Sarawak.”

Nevermind that, 45 years later my fellow Malaysian friends from the Peninsular still need the permission from the powers-that-be to travel to Sarawak and to fill up forms every time they enter Sarawak as part of the requirements listed under Section 66(1) of the Immigration Act.

66. Restriction on citizen’s right of entry into an East Malaysian State.

(1) Subject to subsection (2) and to section 67 and 68, a citizen shall not be entitled to enter an East Malaysian State without having obtained a Permit or Pass in that behalf unless

(a) he belongs to the East Malaysian State;

(b) he is a member of the Federal Government, or of the Executive Council or Legislative Assembly of the East Malaysian State (or of any Council having similar functions in the State);

(c) he is a judge of the Federal Court or of the High Court in Borneo, or is a person designated or nominated to act as such, or he is a member of any Commission or Council established by the Federal Constitution or by the Constitution of the East Malaysian State; or

(d) he is a member of any of the public services of the federation, or of the public service of the East Malaysian State, or of a joint public service serving the East Malaysian State, or is seconded to any such service.

(2) Where a citizen is entitled to enter the East Malaysian State under subsection (1), the citizen’s children under the age of eighteen years and (if he a man) his wife, if entering the East Malaysian State with, or to be with, the citizen, shall not be required by subsection (1) to obtain a Permit or Pass in that behalf.

(3) Where a citizen is not entitled to enter an East Malaysian State under this section, Parts I to VI, in their operation as a special law for the East Malaysian State shall apply to him as if he were not a citizen:

Provided that a citizen arriving in Malaysia in the East Malaysian State or in the other of the East Malaysian States, and proceeding to a part of Malaysia which he is entitled to enter, shall be entitled to such Pass as is reasonably required to enable him to do so.

(4) The burden of proof that a person is entitled to enter the East Malaysian State under this section shall lie on him.

67. Right to enter East Malaysian State for exercise of political rights.

Section 66(1) shall not have effect in relation to a citizen entering the East Malaysian State for the sole purpose of engaging in legitimate political activity: but the burden of proof that a person is entitled to enter the East Malaysian State under this section shall lie on him.

68. Right to enter an East Malaysian State for purposes of Federal Government.

(1) Section 66(1) shall not have effect in relation to any citizen whose entry into the East Malaysian State is temporarily required by the Federal Government in order to enable that Government to carry out its constitutional and administrative responsibilities.

(2) The Minister shall from time to time notify the Director of the person or classes of persons whose entry into an East Malaysian State is required as aforesaid, and shall give him such particulars as are necessary to enable him to discharge his functions in relation to those persons, and in relation to an East Malaysian State subsection (1) shall not be taken to apply to any person unless he is a person, or belongs to a class of person, so notified to the Director in relation to that State.

(3) The Minister shall not give nay notification to the Director under subsection (2) except for consultation with the State Authority.

(Source: UNHCR)

Please note the sections where I bolded the texts, and form your own judgement on this matter.

Generally, most Sarawakians (including me) would support the existence of the autonomy on the immigration matters, for it was created in good faith to safeguard the interests and for the benefits of Sarawakians.

It it only justifiable for the clear thinking, good people of Sarawak or any Malaysian in that sense to protest against it being used to expedite personal gain, political interests and survival by certain group of greedy, self serving politicians. The problem lies with these crooks, often those from the past eras who have overstayed their welcome.

Just imagine, how for example, the state investment arm can be repackaged as a family business when in the first place,a person as a politician entrusted by the people of Sarawak to administer the state should not be in business? This sick man is a symbol of arrogance of power and mother of all corruption in Malaysia.

How can a civil servant use a royal coloured Rolls Royce as his official car when the standard vehicle is Proton Perdana? This is blatant display of his ill gotten wealth and unchecked power. What is the Anti-Corruption Agency, or in its glorified, rebranded new name Malaysia Anti Corruption Council is doing? Maybe it is too busy trying to catch petty thieves, preying on opposition politicians and fixing civil servants?

If in the Peninsular, it is the communal politics taking prominence stage, here it is ‘we’ vs the ‘outsiders’ politics – taking cue from the isolationist policy used by Rajah Brooke to restrict the settlements of Chinese immigrants within the confines of the river banks as they were forbidden to go inland near the Dayaks.

National integration would better be served if people were allowed to travel freely from one place to another without hindrances. It is only expected for Sarawakians to suffer from anti-Malaya sickness as a result of the segregation. The socio-economic gap between East and West Malaysia has grown wider and the anti-Malaya resentment has persisted until this day. The establisment is not helping to bridge the widening gap by making consistent divisive speeches and statements to strike fear into the heart of its people.

Fear for the “outsiders” for they are here to cheat you.

Fear for the “West people’ for they are here to make use of you.

The essence of political survival by the half century old establishment in Malaysia is ‘FEAR’.

Threatening to cut off the goodies – developments, education, funds, insentives, subsidies etc – from the people if they don’t vote for the establishment is repeated over the years for only one sole purpose – to instill FEAR.

The special immigration status is dangled as a ploy by the people in power to continue their strangle hold on the goodies which they were and still are not keen to share with “outsiders” and more importantly to isolate the local people from outside civilisation.

This rubbish perception of ‘outsiders’ or ‘West’ is invasive crooks preying on us among Sarawakians that should be changed. We are all Malaysians, and we should embrace our similarities more than we argue our differences.

ps: I root for the day where we can just focus on the issues concerning us all without resorting to dirty politicking and mud slinging. We should be able to gather our thoughts together, to agree or disagree with each others points and opinions in a constructive manner. After all, we just want the best for this country and its citizens – us.

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2 Responses to “Deja vu, paranoid old guards, petty politics and bla bla bla…”

  1. Clare wrote on Feb 19, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I root for the day Sarawak putus tali pusat with Malaysia and forms a country on its own. 😐

    There was a joke I heard from chipmunk last night about pek moh and his son on a helicopter.

    Pek moh to son: If I take out 2 RM100 bills and throw it down there, I’ll make 2 Sarawakians happy.
    Son to father: Dad, if I change the 2 RM100 bills to 200 RM1 bills and throw it out there, I’ll make 200 Sarawakians happy.
    Son to helicopter pilot: Pilot, you say right or not?
    Pilot: Riiiiiiight! And if I throw both of you out now, I’m going to make the whole Sarawak happy! 😛


  2. LadyBird® wrote on Feb 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    i thank you those for whoever involves in-directly or directly on the immigration autonomy matters. or else you get to see more west malaysian than sarawakian in sarawak itself.

    however this autonomy immigration matter will soon be ‘abolish’ one day (you just see unless someone dare to stand up and fight for it). just look at the implementation of using mykad for non-sarawakian to enter sarawak state,what happen to the passport requirement?

    and with the recent incident pertaining to the Akta Imigresen 1959-1963 thingy gives clear indication that the kerajaan pusat can do whatever they like as kerajaan negeri is the ‘saya yang menurut perintah’.

    the so-called rubbish perseption of outsider or west preying on sarawakian will not exist or even happen if there’s no such attempt to ‘disturb’ the Akta Imigresen thingy at the first place.


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