Monday, April 18, 2011

Sarawak State Government must cease and desist from imposing entry bans

Press Release

Stop abusing the Federal Constitution: Sarawak State Government must cease and desist from imposing entry bans.

The Malaysian Bar deplores the Sarawak State Government’s imposition of a ban upon Ambiga Sreenevasan, Chairperson of Gabungan Pilihan Raya Bersih dan Adil (“BERSIH 2.0”), from entering the state of Sarawak.

This is only the latest incident in a series of reported entry bans faced by, among others, Wong Chin Huat, Haris Ibrahim, Steven Ng, Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh and R Sivarasa. Although the Sarawak state authorities have not provided any reason for barring these individuals, it cannot be a coincidence that these activists, and the Member of Parliament, were forbidden from entering the state just prior to the Sarawak state election that took place on 16 April 2011.

By employing this dire measure, the Sarawak State Government continues to flout the guarantee of freedom of movement that is enshrined in Article 9 of the Federal Constitution, which provides that “every citizen has the right to move freely throughout the Federation”. Although the state government has the statutory right to restrict entry, this power must be used sparingly, and only with justifiable cause. By not providing any reason for its ban, the state government flaunts its abuse of power with impunity, as it has not faced any consequences for its persistent, shameful and unwarranted behaviour. Its action speaks volumes as to its utter lack of transparency and accountability.

The Malaysian Bar calls on the Sarawak State Government to immediately rescind the entry bans that it has unreasonably imposed, and to cease and desist from resorting to such action to stifle potential dissent. The Malaysian Bar urges the Malaysian Government to take concrete measures to safeguard each citizen’s right to travel within his or her own land without hindrance.

Lim Chee Wee
Malaysian Bar

18 Apr 2011

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