25 March 2014
Lawyers for Liberty is outraged at the Federal and Sarawak governments’ decision to ban Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) members of Parliament Rafizi Ramli, Tian Chua and Saifuddin Nasution from entering Sarawak today in order to campaign for the Balingian by-election.

This is not the first time members of the opposition or civil society critical of the Sarawak government were barred from entering the state. This practice of barring political opponents is clearly politically motivated, irrational and a blatant abuse of immigration powers and the 18-point agreement made between Sarawak and Malaya before the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

The Federal and Sarawak governments must be reminded that Malaysia is a country where the Federal Constitution is supreme and every Malaysian citizen has the freedom of movement into Sarawak, limited only to the lawful and reasonable exercise of discretion for reasons of security, public order, public health and the punishment of offenders. Needless to say, these reasons are not applicable to the MPs who were denied entry today.

Both the Sarawak and Sabah 18 and 20-point agreements do not supersede the Federal Constitution and the common practice of arbitrarily banning political adversaries is a direct conflict with the freedom of movement guaranteed by the Constitution.

We call upon the Sarawak government to stop barring all activists and opposition leaders from entering the state, as such a policy is clearly aimed at only serving the interest of the Federal and state governments and should be jettisoned for a more progressive and genuine policy that serves the interests of Sarawak and the nation as a whole.

Released by:
Eric Paulsen
Executive Director
Lawyers for Liberty

25 March 2014

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