Abang Jo, please let Jeffrey in; he’s a friend of Sarawak

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT “Why is Abang Jo doing this to me?” sighed Dr Jeffrey Kitingan (above) in his late night message to me on Jan 9.

The Sabah Opposition Leader was in constant communication with me over the past 48 hours prior to Jan 9 as he was scheduled to speak at a forum on Independence in Kuching scheduled for Jan 11 at my invitation.

The forum entitled, “Independence: The Final Destination” was hosted by the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS), the NGO which I head.

On Jan 8, Jeffrey informed me that he was waiting for “immigration clearance” to enter Sarawak and was expected to be in Kuching on Jan 10.

Then came the bombshell at 11.24pm on Jan 9 when Jeffrey finally confirmed that he was barred from entering, upon receiving a letter from the Sarawak Immigration Department.

Both Jeffrey and I did not expect this. When I invited him in late November to be on the forum panel, Jeffrey had probably assumed that he was allowed to enter Sarawak. So did I.

After all, in September last year, he was allowed entry for three days to attend a meeting with Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg, during which they discussed issues pertaining to the rights of Sabah and Sarawak.

Four months later, he was denied entry. This was unexpected.

When I was asked on Jeffrey’s absence at the forum and why he was disallowed entry, I could offer no reason. Even Jeffrey himself was at a loss as to why he was barred.

I am aware that no reason has ever been offered to those barred from entering Sarawak and I will not request for any.

Taking the Sarawak government or the chief minister to court is also a futile exercise as immigration is Sarawak’s autonomy and the chief minister has the right and sole discretion in the use of that power.

As a Sarawakian, I would also want that immigration autonomy to be jealously guarded in the interests of my homeland. However, when that autonomy is abused, then it takes on a different dimension altogether.

I was glad when the late chief minister Adenan Satem placed known unsavoury characters such as Ibrahim Ali and Ridhuan Tee Abdullah on the persona non grata list in years gone by.

Many Sarawakians were also happy when fugitive preacher Zakir Naik and other known Umno rabble-rousers and PAS fanatics were also on the Sarawak Immigration’s black list.

But I recall speaking up for personalities like Clare Rewcastle-Brown (above, on left) and Ambiga Sreenevasan (on right) when they were barred. I did so too for now Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu when he was denied entry before GE14.

Today, let me appeal to my chief minister to lift the entry ban on Jeffrey.

Having known Jeffrey since my working stint in Sabah in the late 1980s, I believe I can vouch for his integrity and credibility. Jeffrey is no threat to Sarawak in any form; on the contrary, he is a friend of Sarawak.

I have never heard of Jeffrey getting involved in undesirable or violent activities. Throughout his years in politics, he has always been harping on the rights of Sabah.

Neither have I heard of Jeffrey being involved in corrupt practices. I have the utmost respect for lawmakers who are morally upright, not greedy and stay away from sleazy deals.

It is true that Jeffrey was incarcerated by Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the mid 1990s on suspicion of attempting to take Sabah out of Malaysia.

But a few years later, Mahathir also found it worthy to appoint Jeffrey as a deputy federal minister, making him a senator too in order to effect that ministerial appointment.

So, there was nothing ‘prodigal’ about the prodigal son from Sabah after all, going by Mahathir’s handling of Jeffrey.

Today, Jeffrey is the Keningau MP and state assemblyperson for Tambunan. He is also the new Sabah opposition leader as his party, Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku Sabah (Sabah STAR) has the most number of state representatives among the opposition parties.

In my article in April last year, I described Jeffrey as the most consistent Sabah politician on the issues surrounding the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the return of Sabah’s rights.

Even a Sarawak GPS minister responded positively then, sending me this message: “Dr Jeffrey has not only been consistent with his MA63 struggle. He has also been persistent, despite the odds against him. This is most admirable. Others only look at his weaknesses, but I share your salute for him.”

To Abang Jo (above), this is what a cabinet colleague of yours thinks of Jeffrey. Perhaps, you should seek the views of some of your ministers and rethink your decision to bar Jeffrey.

I will not be appealing to you on behalf of people who are not genuine friends of Sarawak and Sarawakians.

Sabah and Sarawak have a shared destiny in this Federation of Malaysia.

“We went in together, we will get out together”. And this was Jeffrey’s topic at the Jan 11 forum.

Although Jeffrey was not physically present, teleconferencing saved the day as it enabled him to address the audience.

In his address, Jeffrey said that Sarawak and Sabah were being treated and exploited like colonies.

On independence for the two territories, he said: “We have journeyed and suffered together.

“At the end of the day, if we decide to exit or separate (from Malaysia), I think we should do it together when we are ready. Yes, we should do it together.”

And this is exactly what I expect a real friend of Sarawak to say.

Sarawakians and Sabahans are definitely stronger together in facing the many new and difficult challenges ahead.

So, dear Abang Jo, please lift the entry ban on a good and faithful Borneon brother. This is my earnest appeal to you, as a fellow Sarawakian, to show your wisdom, foresight and compassion in handling Jeffrey’s case.

  • Malaysiakini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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Efforts to bring in PAS a betrayal: MoCS

NATASHA JEE

KUCHING: It is a betrayal of the highest order if speculation of an impending Pakatan Harapan (PH)-PAS political alignment is true, which will result in the Islamic party’s entry into Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s government, the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) said yesterday.

The movement’s president, Francis Paul Siah, said PAS was rejected by Malaysians going into the 14th general election (GE14).

Francis Paul Siah

“Even right-thinking Malaysian Muslims found PAS’ brand of political Islam too extreme in plural Malaysia,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He said the new alignment meant getting PAS into the government through the back door.

Siah said PH coalition partners, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Democratic Action Party (DAP), and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), should quickly wise up to any such attempt by Dr Mahathir and PPBM to put PAS in power via undemocratic means.

“Any move to prioritise racial and religious interests and concerns for political expediency should be rejected outright by all.

“Again, I can only describe the purported major realignment of Malaysia’s political landscape, if indeed it is true, as a betrayal of the highest order on the part of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), against PKR, DAP, Amanah and all Malaysians who supported PH in GE14,” he said.

Siah said such an attempt must not be allowed to succeed.

  • New Sarawak Tribune

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Being a Sabahan party isn’t enough for Warisan, say analysts

ROBIN AUGUSTIN

PETALING JAYA: The “Sabah for Sabahans” sentiment may have helped Warisan come to power, but it will not be enough to keep them in power, say two political observers.

Image result for Tony Paridi Bagang

Tony Paridi Bagang (top) and Francis Paul Siah (below) said that the state government’s performance was a key issue for Sabahans in the wake of the party’s defeat in the Kimanis parliamentary by-election on Saturday.

Image result for francis siah

“As a local party, Warisan isn’t just expected to be vocal, they must deliver on an efficient and effective administration. They must be able to walk the talk,” said Bagang, who is with the Sabah campus of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).

He said when Warisan and its Pakatan Harapan allies swept to power in 2018 there were huge expectations.

A quick solution to the long-standing illegal immigrant problem was expected, together with the fulfilment of promises on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and oil royalties.

But these expectations have not been met, though efforts were being made, Bagang said.

The loss in Kimanis should be a strong warning to the Warisan-led state government, he added.

BN candidate Mohamad Alamin of Sabah Umno became the new Kimanis MP, being elected with a comfortable majority of 2,029 votes against his rival, Karim Bujang of Warisan.

Siah, who leads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS), said Sabah’s voters were politically mature. They had no difficulty in booting out governments which did not serve their interests, such as the previous governments run by Usno, Berjaya and Barisan Nasional.

“Don’t mess with Sabahan voters, most of them are very sensitive to economic issues and performance. Unfortunately for Warisan, they are seen as being part of PH and in this case, PH has not been performing.”

He said had PPBM contested Kimanis instead of Warisan, they would have suffered a much bigger loss, while if a local opposition party stood instead of Umno, that party would have won by a bigger margin.

State sentiments were a factor but not necessarily the primary factor.

“To put it into context, even with Umno weakened so much in Sabah by defections to PPBM, they still received the votes, even from the Kadazandusun and Chinese community.

“To me, this was a clear rejection of Warisan, particularly over the Sabah Temporary Pass (PSS), and not necessarily a show of support for BN.”

The PSS, scheduled to be implemented in June is intended to replace three different identification papers held by migrants in Sabah, but this has been opposed by many parties who say it contravenes the Immigration Act.

Siah said BN should not be overconfident as its victory in Kimanis could well be a “one-off” performance.

They should leave Sabah to their Sabah partners, if BN wanted to recapture power in the state.

“If BN can group the Sabah opposition parties, with Sabah Umno leaders joining a Sabah-based party and minus PAS which Sabahans cannot accept, they can form a new coalition like Gabungan Parti Sarawak.”

  • Free Malaysia Today

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Meaningless Kimanis by-election one big yawn

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT |  I am somewhat jaded with by-elections, and I find following the Kimanis by-election quite a chore. I’m glad it’s over.

Except for the Sabah Temporary Pass issue which was the main weapon against Parti Warisan Sabah, others were old, stale issues which mean nothing to those outside Sabah, really.

But various surveys which found that local issues and development matters would factor in the Kimanis polls were correct. I would add that economic problems plus the voters’ dissatisfaction with Pakatan Harapan’s performance were the death knell for Warisan in Kimanis.

Umno’s Mohamad Alamin defeated his Warisan opponent Karim Bujang by 2,029-vote majority, polling 12,706 votes to Karim’s 10,677 votes. That was a respectable majority.

I was wrong this time as I had expected a Warisan victory.

On Friday, Jan 17, I sent out the following comments on the by-election to my contact list:

“I expect Warisan to win Kimanis tomorrow.

“On Jan 5, I wrote: ‘All things considered, I foresee sweet victory for Warisan. On Jan 18, Kimanis will be ‘manis’ (sweet) for Shafie Apdal and his party, not Umno’.

“A victory for either side is probably a mere consolation prize. Not much is at stake here.

“I consider Kimanis a meaningless by-election, a waste of time with millions spent for nothing”.

A Kuching friend whom I’ve known to be a keen political observer concurred that the Kimanis by-election was a meaningless one because it makes no difference to the prevailing political equation no matter which side won.

What I find most interesting was when he waded into the Election Court’s decision on Aug 16 last year declaring null and void Anifah Aman’s win in Kimanis. This was upheld by the Federal Court on Dec 10.

He questioned several judgements favouring Harapan politicians of late and wondered whether judges were really fair and impartial, noting that such decisions would be unthinkable if Barisan Nasional was still in power.

I will not add to this as the subject will probably take another new chapter to comment. For now, let the people be the judge of the judges and their judgements.

BN/Umno may have won Kimanis, but this is just a by-election. The victory gave Umno an additional parliamentary seat and bolstered the party’s pride and ego. That’s about it.

Right now, Warisan and Chief Minister Shafie Apdal (photo) are still firmly in charge in the Land Below the Wind, at least for the next three years till GE15. There should be no pretenders to the Sabah throne for now.

The Kimanis by-election was the 10th after GE14. Harapan lost in four of the nine by-elections, a mix of parliamentary and state assembly seats, and won five. Umno’s victory in Kimanis put the score evenly at five wins and five defeats each.

Why do I find the Kimanis by-election meaningless? From the outset, I have my doubts on the Election Court ruling. If election offences were that easily detectable and deemed to be serious, there should have been more by-elections. I hope it’s not a case of who and which side file the election petition.

Right from the start, the Kimanis by-election was also a big yawn. Except for Umno and Warisan in Sabah, the rest of Malaysia hardly paid much attention to it. Only politicians were attentive.

Over the two-week campaign period, I was in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Johore Baru. No one I met mentioned the Kimanis by-election at all. There was no interest even within my politically conscious circles in the locations I was over the past two weeks.

I also did not follow it as closely as the Tanjung Piai by-election last November.

The Tanjung Piai by-election was necessary because of the untimely passing of its incumbent. It also generated much interest because it was an MCA versus Bersatu tussle.

Many, including Harapan supporters, were happy with the decision of the Tanjung Piai voters. I was ecstatic that they taught Harapan a lesson by giving MCA’s Wee Jeck Seng a landslide victory. The people’s disillusionment with Harapan was clear.

Sabah Bersatu showed great political acumen by willingly giving Warisan the right to contest Kimanis. Perhaps, the Bersatu chief in Sabah, Hajiji Noor, has weighed the odds against his party after the Tanjung Piai thrashing.

Had it been a Bersatu-Umno fight in Kimanis, the outcome would probably have been worse for Harapan. I doubt Sabahans have warmed up to Harapan and certainly not Bersatu.

Although I predicted incorrectly about a Warisan victory, I am nonetheless glad that a Harapan ally lost though I wish it was a local Sabah party which won, not Umno. It will probably take several new generations of Sabahans to forgive and forget the sins of some Umno leaders.

Despite the campaign hype by politicians from both sides describing the Kimanis by-election as crucial and a do or die battle, I find it a meaningless, boring and unnecessary by-election.

Let there be no more such by-elections from now on unless the One Above decrees. Malaysians are tired of by-elections.

  • Malaysiakini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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The ABC’s & ‘do re mi’ of independence

By Tania Lam

KUCHING: There are several realities that need to be considered with regards to whether Sarawakians are ready for independence, said Movement of Change Sarawak (MoCS) president Francis Paul Siah.

Going back to basics, he referred to these fundamentals as the ABC’s and ‘do re mi’ of independence.

“The ‘A’ is for answers to the proponents of independence for Sarawak,” he said during an MoCS forum entitled ‘Independence: The Final Destination’ at the DBNA hall here, yesterday.

He explained that Sarawakians had to be aware of issues faced on the route to self-determination and independence, including the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Siah presents his talk during the forum.

Siah said that ‘B’ stands for bravery.

“C is for commitment. This path is something new that we have not gone through before,” he said, adding that consistency was also important.

Meanwhile, for ‘do re mi’, he said that ‘do’ refers to ‘just do it’ and to not procrastinate.

“The ‘re’ refers to remembering to be united,” he added.

As an example, he said there were many Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S) groups in the state, rather than one unified unit.

Finally, Siah said ‘mi’ stands for ‘me’. “We have to decide if we want to lead other people into the quest for independence,” he said.

He also challenged Sarawakians to consider the coming state election as a referendum for the state’s self-determination and independence.

He was of the view that there would be more opportunities if the state was independent.

According to him, there were many negative comments and naysayers for Sarawak’s independence, such as some saying that Sarawakians and Sabahans were not grateful for what they already had and still wanted to pursue independence.

“To these naysayers I will respond: We should always try to bring what we are already blessed with to greater glory.

“If something can be further improved upon, why can’t we continue to make it better?” Siah said.

Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How (left), Siah (second left), Parti Bumi Kenyalang president Voon Lee Shan (second right), and Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang (right) during the forum.
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Unable to enter Sarawak, Jeffrey Kitingan attends forum via teleconferencing

Jeffrey speaks to the crowd via a live teleconferencing feed.

Samuel Aubrey

KUCHING: Despite being barred from entering Sarawak, Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Sabah STAR) president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan still made his presence felt today at a forum here through teleconferencing.

The Keningau MP gave a 20-minute talk on ‘Sabah, Sarawak: A Shared Destiny during the Independence: The Final Destination’ forum organised by the Movement for Change Sarawak (MoCS) at DBNA Hall.

A crowd of more than 100 people, including some from Sabah, were present at the forum which also featured Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How, Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang, Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) president Voon Lee Shan and MoCS leader Francis Siah.

Jeffrey, who is also Tambunan assemblyman and Sabah opposition leader, spoke about the current situation affecting Sabah and Sarawak within Federation of Malaysia and how he felt both states were being treated and exploited like “colonies”.

He pointed out the situation should not be like this because even the current Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had acknowledged these two Borneo states as equal partners which formed Malaysia in 1963.

“We need to settle the relationship between Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya (Peninsular). We come in together, our aspiration is independence and it is up to us.

“We have journeyed together, we have suffered together and at the same time we have learnt together and there are things we enjoy together. At the end of the day, if we have to decide to exit or separate (from Malaysia), I think we should do it together when we are ready,” he said.

Apart from the MoCS forum, Jeffrey was also scheduled to chair the Dayak International Conference also in Kuching yesterday afternoon.

It was the second time that Jeffrey was denied entry into Sarawak, after the first one in 2017. It was reported yesterday that he had applied for a special entry just to attend these activities but received a negative reply instead.

Jeffrey in his speech today said it was unfortunate he could not make it to Kuching for the forum. Meanwhile, Siah and Voon also expressed their disappointment with the Sarawak government for not allowing Jeffery to enter Sarawak.

Voon said Jeffrey should not be barred as he was not a security threat, and he questioned whether the decision was due to political reasons by the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS)-held state government.

Meanwhile, See said he and other comrades in Pakatan Harapan in Sarawak were supportive of the struggle for better rights for Sarawak. He also told the audience that he had once wanted to table a motion on referendum at the State Legislative Assembly but it was rejected.

See, who is also legal advisor of MoCS, said the movement for referendum, devolution and independence in Sarawak is similar to that of Scotland.

“It does not matter what party you come from. At the end of the day, what is best for Sarawak is what we should do,” he said.

The forum was moderated by Edmund Lee. Sarawak and Sabah’s old anthems Fairland Sarawak and Sabah Tanah Airku were also played at the start of the function.

  • Borneo Post

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)

Jeffrey Kitingan denied entry into Sarawak again

KUCHING: The Sarawak government has denied Keningau MP Jeffrey Kitingan entry to the state.

This is the second time the Sabah opposition leader has been denied entry to Sarawak.

Jeffrey, in a statement tonight, said he had applied for a special entry pass to chair the Dayak International Organisation meeting that was held in Kuching this afternoon.

He was also supposed to give an address at a forum organised by the Movement for Change Sarawak (MoCS) on Saturday afternoon.

“The decision to deny him entry into Sarawak only happened under the current Sarawak chief minister’s administration.

“I have never had this problem under previous Sarawak chief ministers, namely Taib Mahmud and the late Adenan Satem.

“As such, I am speaking not only on my behalf but also others, including Sarawakians who are now wondering whether there is anything wrong with the Abang Johari Openg’s state government.

“Is he afraid of something, so much so that he now must resort to abusing his immigration powers for no apparent reason?”

Jeffrey said he was disappointed with Abang Johari as he had been talking about Sabah and Sarawak rights even before he became the chief minister.

However, Jeffrey said he respected the immigration powers vested with Sarawak.

Jeffrey said although Sabah also had similar powers, the state government had failed to curb the entry of illegal immigrants into the state.

The special immigration powers of both the East Malaysian states come under the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Earlier reports state that Jeffrey has been barred from Sarawak since February 2017. He found this out a month later when he tried to enter the state to chair a meeting of the Borneo Dayak Forum.

However, in September last year, Jeffrey was allowed to be in Sarawak for three days to attend a meeting with Abang Johari, during which they discussed issues pertaining to the rights of the East Malaysian states.

  • Free Malaysia Today

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