Monday 13 June 2011

Denied entry, Bersih chief sues Sarawak

KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 — Elections watchdog chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has filed a lawsuit against the Sarawak government for barring her entry into the East Malaysian state two months ago, saying the move was against the Federal Constitution.

The Coalition for Fair and Free Elections (Bersih 2.0) chairman told The Malaysian Insider her leave application is fixed to be heard on July 13 at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

Sarawak and Sabah are allowed to deny entry even to Malaysians under the agreement to form Malaysia in 1963 with Malaya and Singapore, but must give reasons to do so.

Ambiga was stopped at the Kuching International airport on April 15, but no reasons were given as to why she was barred from entering the hornbill state where she was to monitor the poling process the next day.
The former Malaysian Bar president was travelling with two other Bersih 2.0 committee members — Subramaniam Pillay, a member of Aliran and Arul Prakash, a programme officer of KOMAS — and Ivy Josiah, executive director of Women’s Aid Organisation.

The trio were allowed in.

Ambiga joined a list of activists including Steven Ng, Cynthia Gabriel, Wong Chin Huat, Johan Tan and Subang PKR MP Sivarasa Rasiah, who were denied entry to the state in the days leading up to the Sarawak election.

Bersih 2.0 has demanded that the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) investigate the “abuse and arbitrary use of powers” by the Immigration Department and the Sarawak state authorities. 

Malaysia has been found to trail the rest of the world in protecting freedom of religion, expression and other basic rights, managing only to place 59th out of 66 countries surveyed by the World Justice Project (WJP) for its Rule of Law Index 2011.

Low scores for freedom of religion, expression, assembly and privacy also meant that Malaysia placed second to last in its income group, which includes other upper-middle-income countries like Russia, Brazil, Mexico and Iran.
This is the first time Malaysia has been included in the survey.

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