Body: CM open to reviewing travel ban on a case-by-case basis

KUCHING: Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem has indicated that he is willing to review the travel ban against individuals from peninsular Malaysia on a case-by-case basis. Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) executive director Cynthia Gabriel said Adenan told their delegation that he was open to looking at individual cases of persons who have been banned from entering the state and to see who should be removed from the blacklist.

However, she said Adenan also made it clear that he did not welcome extremists into the state. The travel ban was one of the matters discussed with the chief minister during a courtesy call by C4 at the State Legislative Assembly complex here yesterday. Gabriel noted that her own travel ban was lifted so that she could come for the courtesy call.

“I’m also banned from Sarawak but he lifted it for this meeting,” she told reporters. The ban was imposed on her in 2005 when she headed human rights group Suaram. “We urged him not to use this policy of banning individuals. The recent ban on (PKR vice-president) Nurul Izzah Anwar was quite unfortunate and should not have happened.

“But his point is that he would review the cases individually,” Gabriel said. Nurul Izzah was barred from entering Sarawak last Sunday over photos showing her with Jacel Kiram, the daughter of self-styled Sulu sultan Jamalul Kiram III who was behind the Sabah incursion in 2013. Gabriel said the C4 delegation, which included chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun and adviser Datuk Sutinah Sutan, proposed that the state government appoint an ombudsman to receive and investigate complaints into illegal logging.

She said C4 was also willing to work with the state government on developing a Freedom of Information enactment in the future. In addition, the group proposed tripartite cooperation between the government, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and civil society organisations like C4 to educate the public on corruption issues. “This includes why it is important to lodge reports and how MACC can incorporate public participation in their investigation process. The public can be the eyes and ears of the state government as well,” Gabriel said.