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More politicians to be banned from entering Sarawak? - malaysiakini

Malaysiakini's report:

The state government may use its immigration powers to deny entry to more Peninsula-based politicians, including PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, in the face of what is seen as growing local support for the opposition.

This followed the ban imposed by the state immigration authorities on N Gobalakrishnan, PKR parliamentarian for Padang Serai (Kedah), two days ago to attend a party seminar outside of Kuching and to pay a Christmas visit to his adoptive Iban parents in central Sarawak.

pas supporters club launch 160207 n gobalakrishnanThe opposition parliamentarian flew in at 5.15 pm on Wednesday and was told by immigration officers at Kuching International Airport that he had been denied entry.

According to the state immigration, Gobalakrishnan had to apply for a permit to enter Sarawak under section 66 (i) of the Immigration Act.

As a rule, Peninsular Malaysians need not apply for an entry permit so long as they carry their passport with them.

The immigration officers also informed Gobalakrishnan that they were acting on a directive from the state secretary’s office.

The MP had initially refused to be deported. However, he eventually board the 9.50pm AirAsia flight back to Kuala Lumpur.

He had instructed his party colleague, Padungan state assemblyperson Dominique Ng, who is also a lawyer, to challenge the ban in court.

Entry ban ‘politically motivated’

Given the Christmas eve’s incident, there are worries that the state authorities may now try to invoke the same law to stop national-level party leaders from coming to Sarawak.

The opposition has made Sarawak a key battleground in its bid to oust the ruling BN government in the next state elections due at the latest by 2011.

dominique ng interview 010606 gesturingNg (right) told Malaysiakini today that while he appreciates the importance of the special provision in the Immigration Act resulting from the 1963 agreement in the formation of Malaysia to protect the interests of Sarawakians from being swarmed by workers from other parts of the country, the action against Gobalakrisnan was however politically-motivated.

The latest development came on the heels of PKR supreme council’s decision to appoint the parliamentary opposition leader and MP for Permatang Pauh to be the party’s state chief in both Sarawak and Sabah.

The party has planned a series of activities, including dinner gatherings ,seminars and training courses in the coming months, and Anwar has also instructed all PKR elected representatives to visit Sarawak on a regular basis ahead of the state election.

The latest activity was a two-day seminar for election workers held in Sri Aman, about 240km from Kuching, on Dec 22 and 23, which was to be attended by Gobalakrishnan.

pkr national congress 291108 gabriel adit demongSeveral top PKR Dayak leaders however made it to the seminar. They included Ngemah Gabriel Adit (right) - an Independent turn PKR state representative - state PKR deputy chief Nicholas Bawin, former Lubok Antu MP Jawah Gerang, former Sri Aman MP Jimmy Donald and a well-known Orang Ulu lawyer Baru Bian, who is expected to be named party candidate for Ba’kelalan in northern Sarawak.

The response to the seminar was tremendous, according to Bawin, a former president of Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) who is also expected to be named PKR candidate for the predominantly Iban state constituency of Batang Ai.

“There is a groundswell of support throughout Sarawak for PKR,” Bawin told Malaysiakini.

At the seminar, former MP Jawah and over 1,000 of his supporters in Lubok Antu handed their membership forms to PKR secretary-general Sallehuddin Hashim.

Taib angered by debate in Parliament

The ban on Gobalakrishan came as a surprise as he had visited Sarawak previously.

The MP was a guest of the state government during the recent Gawai Dayak celebrations and was given VIP treatment with a chauffeur-driven car, said Ng.

Apart from his intention to attend the PKR seminar in Sri Aman, he was to go to Kapit, a town in central Sarawak, to celebrate Christmas with his adoptive Iban parents in Nanga Sut.

Gobalakrishnan said he believed the decision to bar him from entering the state was linked to a speech he made in Parliament in support of fellow parliamentarian, DAP MP for Bandar Kuching Chong Chieng Jen, regarding corruption in Sarawak.

sulaiman taibHe said he later met Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s son Sulaiman (left), who is deputy tourism minister, in the Parliament lobby.

According to Gobalakrishnan, the deputy minister had warned him that he (Sulaiman) would finish off PKR in Sarawak.

Sulaiman, who took over the parliamentary seat of Samarahan from his father at the March 2008 elections, was said to have been angered by the PKR MP’s remarks about his family-controlled business group, CMS, in Parliament. -