Sarawak is tightening its immigration rules and stepping up scrutiny of visitors particularly from the peninsula to keep out “extremists, religious bigots and racists”, Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said.
At a press conference to mark his 100 days as chief minister, Adenan (pic) said racism and religious intolerance were “not in character with the people of Sarawak”.
“We have lived harmoniously all these many years and it is my responsibility to see that we, people of all races and culture, continue to live harmoniously together.
“May 13 never happened here. As far as Sarawak is concerned, May 13 (race riots in 1969) was a distant thunder on the other side of the hill,” said Adenan, who succeeded Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud in February.
One way to safeguard the harmony in the state, he said, was to keep religious fanatics and racists “of all colours” out.
No officials would say how many names are the “black list” of people banned from the state, but one name that Adenan himself had said months earlier was on the list is that of Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali.
Perkasa is a Malay right-wing group that had been fanning racial and religious tensions in the peninsula.
Adenan was responding to questions on how he planned to achieve his vision of making Sarawak a “progressive, vibrant and harmonious” state when the rumblings of religious and racial intolerance were getting louder in the peninsula and could spread to Sarawak.
Even though immigration is a matter under federal purview, Sarawak and Sabah have autonomy over immigration in their respective states under the terms of the Malaysia Agreement and, therefore, can bar anyone they deemed undesirable and a threat to the state.
Sarawak PKR vice-chairman See Chee How, meanwhile, reminded Adenan that his 100-day “honeymoon” was not without bitterness.
He said Adenan that he and his new administration are perceived as interim and “a continuation of the old administration that is under intense scrutiny and criticism locally and internationally”.
He added that Adenan was seen as playing second fiddle to Taib, who is now the Yang DiPertua Negeri.
“Adenan was given a lot of slack in his first 100 days. He has enjoyed a high level of public support.
“The high hopes for what he will be able to accomplish, the benefit of doubt given to him that his administration will govern in ways that they like becomes a trust in the new chief minister and in the promises that he made in his inauguration speech,” See said in a statement.
“The new chief minister vows to be a chief minister for all Sarawakians, to protect the popular aspirations for state autonomy, special rights and privileges under the Malaysia Agreement, and higher oil and gas royalty.
“He further promised to bar the entry of racists and religious bigots and declared that there will be no implementation of hudud in Sarawak and no seizure of Holy Scriptures (Bibles).
“All these bode well with the general Sarawakians,” See said.
However, Adenan’s mantle as the Barisan Nasional state chief was also being tested, See said, referring to two senior ministers and about half a dozen assistant ministers who stirred political unrest in the state BN in a mass exodus with their supporters from their former parties to join a newly formed party.
The move provoked strong opposition from three state BN coalition parties Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP).
See summed up Adenan’s 100 days by saying: “While there are no major accomplishments yet, there are also no failures, disappointments or liabilities.
“The new chief minister must deliver his promises and be the chief administration to fulfil the hopes of Sarawakians that things can change and their lives will be improved under the new administration.”
June 6, 2014.