By Wong Choon Mei, Suara keADILan
KeADILan vice president Sivarasa Rasiah was barred from entering Sarawak this afternoon, the second time in three months that a Pakatan Rakyat leader has been denied access to the state.
No reason was given for the move, believed to have been ordered by chief minister Abdul Mahmud Taib, prompting sharp condemnation by civil society groups.
Taib, who has ruled Sarawak with a fist of iron for decades, is expected to soon dissolve the state government and call for a snap election.
There is growing fear that he might seal off the state to Pakatan leaders - especially to reform icon Anwar Ibrahim - in a bid to retain power at all costs.
Said Ramon Navaratnam, president of Transparency International: “It is bad for the government to disallow anybody from moving freely as long as it is within the law.
“The rule of law must prevail at all times regardless of politics. When there is arbitrary barring, it reflects a lack of accountability and transparency and this will erode the public’s confidence in the government.”
Sivarasa’s plane touched down at the Kuching airport at 1.45 pm but he was not allowed to enter the East Malaysian state. In an SMS message to Suara KeADILan, the MP for Subang said he had been detained by the immigration authorities there.
“The immigration officers told me my name has been blacklisted from entering Sarawak since three months ago,” said Sivarasa.
“When I asked why, they just said it was under the instruction of the state government. Because of that, I was forced to return to Kuala Lumpur.”
In December, MP for Padang Serai N Gobalakrishnan was also banned from entering the state.
Sivarasa had gone to Sarawak to brief KeADILan members about proposed amendments to the party’s constitution, and had made similar stops at other states before this. The amendments are due to be debated at a party congress slated for later this year.