On 7th April 2013, Vice President of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (KEADILAN) Tian Chua was denied entry into Sabah. He joins the ranks of a rather long list of individuals of the opposition as well as activists that been barred into the states of Sabah and Sarawak.
Those individuals include the aide to Deputy President of KEADILAN Hilman Idham, human rights activists Haris Ibrahim, member of Bersih 2.0 steering committee Ahmad Syukri Razab, leader of Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) Mazlan Aliman, leader of Democratic Action Party (DAP) Lim Kit Siang, former Vice President of KEADILAN Sivarasa Rasiah and not to forget, N. Gobalakrishnan before he leaped out of KEADILAN.
On the other hand, the following names are activists that have been denied entry into Sarawak. They include; President of Bersih 2.0 Ambiga Sreenevasan, activists Steven Ng, Cynthia Gabriel, Wong Chin Huat, Johan Tan, Maria Chin Abdullah, B.K. Ong, Dr Kia Soong and Tan Jo Hann.
This is even though in 2008, Deputy Minister in the office of the Sarawak’s Chief Minister’s office, Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman stated that Sarawak state government has never barred any opposition leaders from entering the state.
This netting of barring individuals who are opposition leaders and activists mirrors the selective discrimination practiced by both state governments; Sabah and Sarawak.
The selective discrimination acts include at the time Tian Chua who was denied entry into Sabah, he was in the company of Deputy President of Pas Mohamad Sabu, but while he was denied entry, Mohamad Sabu was allowed entrance. Also was the situation that lead to the denied entry of Hilman Idham, in which his situation was slightly different. Hilman Idham was denied entry only hours after Deputy President of KEADILAN Azmin Ali, was allowed entrance. Activist, Tan Jo Hann also experienced a similar incident in which a foreign journalist he was traveling with was allowed entrance while he was not.
Meanwhile, when Ambiga Sreenevasan was denied entry, she was in the company of Subramaniam Pillay, Arul Prakash (both being members of the Bersih 2.0 steering committee) and Ivy Josiah (Executive Director of Women’s Aid Organisation). All three were allowed entrance into Sarawak.
As opposition leaders and human rights activists were denied entrance to both states, several activists of human rights as well the the environment were denied the right to leave Sarawak. This list includes, Gara Jalong (from the Long Geng Kenyah community), Chee Yok Lin from Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), Meenakashi Raman (legal adviser to Consumer Association Penang), Jok Jau Evong (Rumah Bawang Resident Association), Raymond Abin (Borneo Resources Institute, Brimas), Wong Meng Cho (Institute for Development and Alternative Living , Ideal) and others.
Activist Colin Nichols on the other hand was temporarily detained at the Low Cost Terminal Kuala Lumpur (LCCT) until the Chief of Immigration at the LCCT allowed hom to board a later flight on his discretion. This follows Colin Nichols being on the list of individuals not allowed to leave the country as he has been denied entry into Sarawak several times because he has opposed to the logging activities in Sarawak
This knee jerk reaction of letting other opposition leaders and activists entrance while barring others is a reflection to the absence of transparency and accountability in the administration of Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman and Pehin Sri Haji Taib Mahmud. Both Chief Ministers have the responsibility to provide a straight answer to those individuals as well as providing a list of other individuals having the same fate.
The names abovementioned, do however have one thing in common with each other; they voice out their concerns with regards to the injustice committed by the state government. The state government of Sabah dan Sarawak are infected with paranoia stemming from the realization that the issues raised by those individuals will in turn raise the awareness of Sabahans and Sarawakians to the injustices occurring in those two states.
Political freedom as well as the right to speech are both belonging to Malaysian citizens. The administrative government represent the people in implementing duties on behalf of the people. Hence, the stated administered belongs to the people and not the administrator nor the political party administrating.
Considering the fact that Malaysia is in her election season, the barring of entrance of Tian Chua smells of gutter politics. Meanwhile, the barring of entrance into the state, although it is the right of the state government, it also denounces the basic human rights of Malaysians as enshrined in the Federal Constitution and the universal human rights.
As Malaysians are suffering from restriction of movement, foreigners on the other hand are given the key to the state, free to roam without restrictions. The state governments have the responsibility to protect the basic human rights, yet as a consequence of gutter politics, activists and the opposition are treated like criminals. This is the irony in which both Chief Ministers have been allegedly accused of breaking the law themselves with allegations of corruption, cronyism and abuse of power. The law is abused, rights of citizens mauled, the good discarded at the bad hailed. That will be the situation in Malaysia as long as gutter politics are given the free reign to continue.