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Jeffrey: How threatening can Haris be?

By Luke Rintod of FMT
KOTA KINABALU: Political maverick Jeffrey Kitingan, who has been at the forefront in the fight for Sabah’s absolute rights as set out in the Malaysia Agreement 1963, is alarmed that some powers are being misused by the government.

He views the banning of rights activist Haris Ibrahim from entering the state as a gross abuse of the state’s immigration powers by Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman.

“It is outrageous that Chief Minister Musa Aman decided to ban the president of the Malaysian Civil Rights Movement (MCLM) supposedly due to security threats to the state but without giving any details or elaboration.

“Haris is only an activist promoting civil liberties and freedom of movement and speech which are rights guaranteed by the Federal Constitution,” said the Harvard scholar whose name is synonymous with the struggle to ensure the autonomy of the state within Malaysia is not diluted further.

Haris, a lawyer-cum-rights activist, was on Dec 7 barred by Federal Immigration officers under orders from the chief minister.

This was the first time the state has used this power again after many years.

Sabah Immigration Director, Mohammad Mentek, had also said Friday that another West Malaysian activist, who he refused to name, is already on the list as “persona non-grata” in Sabah.

“How much threat can Haris create for the state? Is the movement for democracy also a threat?” asked Jeffrey.

He said by banning Haris, the Sabah Chief Minister had actually proved that the state government is afraid of its own shadow apart from showcasing the state’s immense immigration powers.

“Since the state government does have such powers, then it shouldn’t impose it on one lone individual who is promoting civil liberties but to impose it on the illegals immigrants who are the real threats to the security in the state,” he said.

The ban on Haris, he said, is a clear indication that the state government is focusing its priority on the wrong target.

“We can only interpret that this (immigration decision by the chief minister) is because of political interests rather than for the interest of the people as a whole,” he added.

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