Denied entry, Bersih chief sues Sarawak government

By Debra Chong
The Malaysian Insider
Jun 14, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 — Election watchdog chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has filed a suit against the Sarawak government for barring her entry into the East Malaysian state two months ago, saying the move is against the Federal Constitution.

“Yes filed and leave application will be heard 13 July,” the Coalition for Fair and Free Elections (Bersih 2.0) chairman told The Malaysian Insider via a text message.

Sarawak and Sabah are allowed to deny entry even to Malaysians under the agreement to form Malaysia in 1963 with Malaya and Singapore, but must give a reason in doing so.

Ambiga was stopped at the Kuching International Airport on April 15; but no reasons were given as to why she was barred from entering the hornbill state where she was to monitor the polling process the next day.

The former Malaysian Bar president was travelling with two other Bersih 2.0 committee members — Subramaniam Pillay, a member of Aliran and Arul Prakash, a programme officer of Komas — and Ivy Josiah, executive director of Women’s Aid Organisation.

The trio were allowed in.

Ambiga 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 ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) easily retained.

Bersih 2.0 has demanded that the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) investigate the “abuse and arbitrary use of powers” by the Immigration Department and the Sarawak state authorities.

Long-serving Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud has not responded to criticisms about denying entry to Malaysian activists while Putrajaya has also remained silent over a citizen’s right to free movement within the federation since the hornbill state formed Malaysia with Malaya, Sabah and Singapore in 1963.

However, pro-government newspapers in West Malaysia have been playing up reports of a graft probe against Taib, who has rebuffed Putrajaya’s efforts to get him to end his 30-year rule, marked by reports of land grabs from the natives.

Malaysia has been found to trail the rest of the world in protecting freedom of religion, expression and other basic rights, managing only to place 59th out of 66 countries surveyed by the World Justice Project (WJP) for its Rule of Law Index 2011.

Low scores for freedom of religion, expression, assembly and privacy also meant that Malaysia placed second to last in its income group, which includes other upper-middle-income countries like Russia, Brazil, Mexico and Iran.

This is the first time Malaysia has been included in the survey.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 - 9:48 am

    Someone point out Perkasa is out to create chaos and blame it on Bersih ala May 13, 1969. Its unfair but its the onus of Bersih to ensure that Perkasa and Bersih rallies are kept separate. The organisational demand is going to be incredibly challenging to make maximum impact.

  2. #2 by wanderer on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 - 9:56 am

    This is a typical example of “Abuse of Power” by the corrupted BN Sarawak gomen.

    Why was it I need to log in everytime I want to post a comment. On top of that, I could not do so by my reglar website that I used, I need to get in indirectly. Is Kit Siang blog under some sort of attack?

  3. #3 by monsterball on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 - 10:15 am

    Ambiga is clear minded and cool as a cumcumber.
    She is fighting for freedom and her rights….with no fear.
    Donkey Kong is performing…to scare her off too.
    First against Christians…now against BERSEH.
    Next maybe against traitors.
    yip!!…13th GE is near or planning to be never by Najib.

  4. #4 by Not spoon fed on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 - 12:07 pm

    Not necessary to demo or go to street. We just need to be sure the rural people in Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsural Malaysia to get the message loud and clear about the corruption of the ruling parties (UMNO, MCA and MIC, Gerakan).

    We need to let the rural people in Malaysia that the ruling coalition parties are the ones cause rural people poor and caused by corruption and spending national wealth without

    What we need to change for a better Malaysia is to vote them out. We need more MP and kick Barisan Nasional out from Putrajaya.

    Would strongly suggest to show how corrupted, Taib, by showing the reports at via projector or print out.

    Would strongly suggest to spread the Orange Flyer of Pakatan about setting up a royal commission to investigate Sabath illegal immigrants problem which was started/allowed by Mahathir.

  5. #5 by cemerlang on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 - 1:12 pm

    Selamat petang. Salam 1 Malaysia.

    • #6 by cemerlang on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 - 1:14 pm

      Are we Malaysia or not ? Why after all these donkey years, we still have this problem ? Malaysia and yet not Malaysia. No wonder. People always say this is Borneo. So who am I ? Malaysian kah ? Or Borneon ?

  6. #7 by Mike Tee on Wednesday, 15 June 2011 - 7:35 am

    Not another low grade decision by even lower grade corrupt chief minister!!!!
    Where on earth do you find a citizen of a country cannot enter another state of the same country. Only in Bolehland

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