Press Statement: Legal Challenge on Taib Mahmud’s Abuse of Power on Immigration Control

Civil Society Joint Statement

April 11, 2011

Legal Challenge on Taib Mahmud’s Abuse of Power on Immigration Control

We the undersigned civil society groups condemn in the strongest sense the denial of electoral reform activist cum political scientist Dr Wong Chin Huat’s entry into Sarawak last Friday. It is a blatant abuse of immigration power and an insult to Sarawak’s 18-Point Agreement upon the formation of Malaysia by the Sarawak’s caretaker Chief Minister Taib Mahmud.

This and the earlier barring of native rights activist Steven Ng, on the April 3, must be challenged legally in the court. We support fully such legal action, which is now being prepared, to protect Malaysians from violation of fundamental human rights and abuse of federalism.

Wong, Ng and others who have been barred earlier like Dr Kua Kia Soong, Sivarasa Rasiah MP, Cynthia Gabriel and Tan Seng Hin, have all been served a simple notice citing Sub-section 65(1)(a) of the Immigration Act which only states that the State Government has instructed the Director of Immigration Sarawak to deny their entry, without giving any reason.
Caretaker CM Taib Mahmud has shown complete contempt of the Section 67 of the Immigration Act which specifically provides for a citizen’s right of “entering the East Malaysian State for the sole purpose of engaging in legitimate political activity”.

Dr Wong’s trip to Sarawak was to observe the state elections and convey to the Sarawakian electorate two important messages: (a) that some 200,000 Sarawakians living outside Sarawak should have the right to vote via postal ballots, a demand which has been ignored by the Election Commission; (b) that bribery in elections is an criminal offence which may bring the maximum penalty of 2 years in imprisonment and a fine of RM 5,000, and provides no exemption for government officials.

We urge the Sarawakian electorate to hold accountable Caretaker CM Taib Mahmud on denying the entry of Wong, Ng, Kua, Rasiah, Gabriel, Tan and the likes. Is Wong’s advocacy of franchise for Sarawakians and against bribery illegitimate in the eyes of Taib Mahmud?

The Sarawakian electorate should condemn Taib’s abuse of power, which has damaged Sarawak’s legitimacy in maintaining its immigration control. This power was meant in the 18-point agreement to protect Sarawak from undesirable transmigration from West Malaysia and Sabah.

The Undersigned Group:
1. Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (BERSIH 2.0)
2. The Micah Mandate
3. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
4. LLG Cultural Development Centre
5. Penang Chinese Independent Schools Education Society
6. Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)
7. Muslim Professional Forum (MPF)
8. Persatuan Alumni Han Chiang, Pulau Pinang
9. Persatuan Alumni Han Chiang Malaysia
10. Kong Min School Old Pupils’ Association
11. Persatuan Kelab Kawan Pulau Pinang
12. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
13. Lawyers for Liberty (LfL)
14. Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
15. The Bar Council
16. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
17. Research for Social Advancement (REFSA)
18. Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall
19. Community Action Network (CAN)
20. Sarawakians Access (SACCESS)
21. Kumpulan Aktivis Muda Independen (K.A.M.I)
22. Kolektif LimaPulohB
25. National Institute for Democracy and Electoral Integrity (NIEI)
26. Women’s Aid Organisation
27. All Women’s Action Society Malaysia (AWAM)

Yours sincerely,
BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee

The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0 comprises:
Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan, (Chairperson), Andrew Khoo, Arumugam K., Dr Farouk Musa, Haris Ibrahim, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, Richard Y W Yeoh, Dr Toh Kin Woon, Dr Wong Chin Huat, Datuk Yeo Yang Poh, Zaid Kamaruddin, Subramaniam Pillay and Arul Prakkash.