KUCHING – Sarawak will not bar former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and other Pakatan Harapan leaders from entering the state, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
“No problem, they are not extremists,” he told reporters on Saturday.
Abang Johari was referring to Dr Mahathir and other opposition leaders such as DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang and Federal Territory Amanah chairman Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli.
Dr Mahathir, Lim and Dr Mohd Hatta are scheduled to attend a political gathering here on Sunday evening.
Abang Johari however said that the Sarawak government would continue to exercise its immigration powers to bar people it considered undesirable.
He added in his officiating speech for the new Bau district office building that the Sarawak government would continue to stop any politician who is a threat to Sarawak from entering the state.
“Freedom of speech does not mean it can be done at the expense of the people. I will bar politicians who might cause disunity in Sarawak, despite what the critics are saying,” he said.
Abang Johari said that this is why Sungai Besar Umno division chief Datuk Jamal Mohd Yunos and Perkasa’s Datuk Ibrahim Ali were barred from entering the state in the past.
He was responding to a comment on Friday by state Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen, who had expressed concerns that that Dr Mahathir, Lim and Mohd Hatta could be barred from entering Sarawak for the political talk at Taman BDC.
The state DAP chairman appealed to the state government to not abuse its immigration powers, saying that there was no reason for Sarawak to ban opposition leaders from entering the state.
Dr Mahathir is scheduled to land at the Kuching International Airport at 4.45pm on Sunday, while Lim is due to arrive at around 1.30pm.
Sarawak has autonomy over immigration under the Malaysia Agreement 1963.