Maria, told Malaysiakini this morning that she was stopped at the state capital international airport at about 7.30pm yesterday, and escorted to a room by five female officers after picking-up her luggage.
There in the room, Maria (below) was held up for about 20 minutes and questioned.
"They claimed that I had been held as I was not a Sabahan. Later, they told me that I was on their immigration blacklist but they refused to tell me what was I blacklisted for. They only replied that I should know.
"I suspected that this was due to the police suit filed against us as a result of organising the Bersih 3.0 protest last April 28.
"Even another steering committee member Ahmad Syukri Che Ab Razab who is also a Sabahan had been asked to take a flight back on arriving in Kota Kinabalu last month, as he was scheduled to speak at a workshop there," she said.
The police and government had filed a RM122,000 suit in May, against several Bersih steering committee members for alleged damage to the authorities' vehicles as a result of the mammoth rally in Kuala Lumpur.
Maria, also the executive director of Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower), said this was her first visit to Sabah after the Bersih 3.0 rally and had faced no problems there before.
She said that she knew some of the other steering committee members had some entering Sarawak like its chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan and Wong Chin Huat and also herself but did not expect it in Sabah.
"Sabah like any other state like Kelantan or Kedah or Terengganu or Pahang is part of Malaysia, and there should not be any problems in travelling there for Malaysian citizens," said Maria.
Stop the harassment call
This was the second incident which happened to Maria, as the first was last September when she was stopped by immigration authorities when she wanted to fly to Nepal.
Other steering committee members namely lawyer Andrew Khoo, and former Bar Council chairperson Yeo Yang Poh had met with similar problems.
She said when she was allowed to pass through the airport to her function, two Special Branch officers were seen busy snapping her pictures.
Maria called on the authorities to stop the harassment of all Bersih steering committee members.
She said Bersih had written Immigration Department director-general Alias Ahmad, and the inspector-general of police Ismail Omar (left) last month to stop the harassment.
This was after Ahmad Syukri and others like Toh Kin Woon and K Arumugam, who are also part of the Bersih steering committee members were subjected to similar treatment.
However, according to Maria there had been no response from the authorities to the letter.
"They have not replied to us and continue to harass us and this is getting ridiculous," she said, adding she hopes the authorities would stop such acts.
Last month it was reported that on being asked about the matter IGP Ismail had passed the buck to the immigration department