By THE BORNEOTODAY TEAM
KOTA KINABALU: A defiant Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said he will not protest the Sarawak government’s decision to bar him from entering the State.
However, he said he felt sad and insulted by the Sarawak government’s decision to ban him.
“There’s no need to protest, I respect their rights,” he said Monday. “But, just wondering why the Sarawak government should be afraid of me going into the state? I have been in n out of Sarawak since especially since 2010.”
The Bingkor assemblyman and STAR Sabah president however warned that such action may cause the Sarawak government to lose the support that it is currently enjoying.
On Saturday, Jeffrey was refused entry into Kuching as soon as he landed at the international airport there. He was put on the next available flight to Sabah the same night.
He learnt from the immigration officer there that he has been on the ‘ban list’ since last month.
But, when inquired by him, the immigration officer could not give him a definite answer on the rationale behind his banning, except for telling him that it was “Arahan kerajaan Negeri” (order by the state government).
Dr Jeffrey was in Sarawak to meet Dayak leaders from all over Borneo in his capacity as the President of the Borneo Dayak Forum, to follow up on some issues of common concerns.
He said the Sarawak State government should welcome and thank him for his contributions toward the support which it is now enjoying, instead of barring him from entering the state.
“I was the one who brought political consciousness to Sarawakians and their leaders (between 2011-2014) under which the (state) government is enjoying local support now,” he claimed.
On Sunday, the Dayak National Congress (DNC) civil society movement accused Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Abang Openg of abusing his discretionary immigration power to ban Dr Jeffery from entering the state.
DNC president Mengga Mikui was quoted saying that Jeffery had been invited to attend a meeting of the DNC of which he is a member.
“It looks like the openness under the previous leadership of the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem is regressing,” Mikui was quoted as saying.
“We are surprised of the restriction on his entry yesterday. All this while he has been regularly coming to Sarawak, and this sudden act is an abuse of Immigration autonomy,” Mikui added.
He pointed out that Jeffery’s ban appeared to be Abang Johari’s first move to bar a non-local politician since becoming the chief minister on January 13.
Mengga went on to say that Dr Jeffrey, being a man who had been advocating for rights of Sarawak and Sabah, it was illogical to consider him persona non grata.
“If he is barred for being vocal on Sarawak and Sabah rights, then we can also speculate that our new chief minister is giving in to pressure from certain quarters,” he said.