KUCHING • Sarawak has allowed an opposition MP to enter its borders, a lone exception to the state's blacklist of political leaders from Peninsular Malaysia who are banned from visiting the state.
The national women's chief of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Ms Zuraida Kamaruddin, was allowed into the state when she arrived at Kuching airport on Saturday, reported the Malay Mail Online. On her previous visits in 2013, 2014 and 2016, she was turned back at immigration control and asked to leave the state.
Of the 13 states in Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah - the two states on Borneo island - retain autonomy over immigration. Malaysians from other states are required to have their identity cards or passports to enter Sabah and Sarawak, and need to obtain work permits in order to work there.
Ms Zuraida was just one of the many politicians and activists barred from entering Sarawak, a stronghold of the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional. Other PKR leaders who had been refused entry included lawmakers Nurul Izzah Anwar, Rafizi Ramli, Chua Tian Chang and R Sivarasa. Opposition MPs Tony Pua and Teresa Kok, both from the Democratic Action Party, were also barred.
According to the Malay Mail, Ms Zuraida yesterday urged Sarawak Chief Minister Amar Abang Johari Openg to lift the state ban against other federal opposition leaders.
"I hope the state government will be more democratic this time around and allow us from the opposition parties to have free entry to Sarawak to undertake our legitimate political activities," she told reporters before leaving for Kuala Lumpur.
She said that PKR fully supports Sarawak's autonomy over immigration control, and its efforts to reclaim its state rights from Putrajaya, Malaysia's administrative capital.
CALL TO ALLOW FREE ENTRY
I hope the state government will be more democratic this time around and allow us from the opposition parties to have free entry to Sarawak to undertake our legitimate political activities.
MS ZURAIDA KAMARUDDIN, national women's chief of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, urging Sarawak's government to lift the ban.
The late former chief minister of Sarawak, Tan Sri Adenan Satem, had previously said the ban was to protect the interests of Sarawak from "unsavoury elements", and that the right of the state to ban visitors from entering should not be questioned.
However, opposition leaders have said that the ban was without legal basis.