KUCHING, March 12 ― The Dayak National Congress (DNC) civil society movement accused today Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Abang Openg of abusing his discretionary immigration power to ban Sabah politician Datuk Jeffery Kitingan from entering the state.
DNC president Mengga Mikui said the ban against Jeffery who is president of Parti Solidariti Negeri Sabah (STAR) and the brother to Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, was an unfriendly act to a neighbouring state.
“It looks like the openness under the previous leadership of the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem is regressing,” Mikui said.
He explained that Jeffery had been invited to attend a meeting of the DNC of which he is a member.
“We are surprised of the restriction on his entry yesterday. All this while he has been regularly coming to Sarawak, and this sudden act is an abuse of Immigration autonomy,” Mikui added.
He pointed out that Jeffery’s ban appeared to be Abang Johari’s first move to bar a non-local politicians since becoming the chief minister on January 13.
Jeffery was told by an officer at the Immigration counter that he was not allowed to step out into the Kuching International Airport terminal when he arrived there at 5.20pm yesterday and was instead made to fly back to Kota Kinabalu later that night.
Mikui said there was no reason to bar Jeffery from entering Sarawak.
“Being a man who had been advocating for rights of Sarawak and Sabah it is illogical to consider him a persona non grata.
“If he is barred for being vocal on Sarawak and Sabah rights, then we can also speculate that our new chief minister is giving in to pressure from certain quarters,” he said.
He also said Jeffery is not an enemy of Sarawak although he is politically not aligned to the ruling Barisan Nasional.
“Politics should not and cannot be made a ground for the ban. As a fellow Malaysian he has the right to enter the state to participate in lawful social activities,” he said.
He urged the state government to conduct itself based on justice and fairness instead of wielding fear and intimidation to show off its power.