The Sarawak state government acted in a most uncaring, unconscionable and inhumane manner when it misused its state immigration autonomy powers to expel him from Sarawak on January 6, 2001 after he and his family had settled down in the state for 23 years and had made social, community and educational contributions, especially in the field of Chinese mother-tongue education, without giving any reason.
Up to now, the State government refused to give any reason for
Tan’s expulsion and ban on his re-entry to join his family, which can only
mean that it has no good or acceptable reason - a classic case of
gross abuse of power making it not only unjust, undemocratic but unlawful
Tan, 61, married to Loo Ah Looi with two sons of 14 and 17 years of age living and studying in Miri, having their own house, was deported from Sarawak by the Sarawak Immigration Department on January 6 without any reason after a two-week notice was served on him cancelling his entry social pass under Regulation 11(8) of the Immigration Regulations 1983. He was also told that he would not be allowed to re-enter Sarawak.
Various efforts by Tan, his family and the Miri Hainan Association of which he was secretary since 1995 in the past 12 weeks for Tan to re-enter Sarawak, at least for the Chinese New Year festivities in January to be re-united with his family, had been in vain.
What sin or crime had Tan committed as to justify the Sarawak state government to invoke its state immigration autonomy to expel and ban Tan from re-entering Sarawak, breaking up his family and disregarding the fact that he had contributed to the state and made a home in Sarawak for the last 23 years?
In his reply dated March 1 to Tan’s appeal for assistance to gain re-entry to Sarawak to be reunited with his family dated Feb. 13, 2001, Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dr. George Chan denied that the deportation of 23-year Sarawak resident Tan Seng Hin from the state was due to his political activities.
Chan is right. The Sarawak state government could not have acted against Tan because of his political activities for the simple reason that Tan had never joined any political party or involved in any activity organized by any political party in his 23 years in Sarawak. The only organization he joined was the Hainan Association, Miri, which he joined in 1995 and became its secretary the following year until the present.
Since Tan's deportation was not because of politics, and those responsible for the state's security had clarified that Tan' s case had nothing to do with security, and it could not be a criminal matter as Tan had never committed any crime or offence in his 23 years' stay in Miri with his family, the only reason left is Chan's unhappiness with Tan over his stand on Chinese education issues in Miri made in his capacity as Miri Hainan Association Secretary which clashed with Chan's position.
This is why the various efforts by the Miri Hainan Association to intercede on Tan’s behalf in the past three months for Tan to re-enter Sarawak especially for the Chinese New Year festivities in January failed without support from Chan.
Tan believes that his deportation and ban from re-entry is connected to his differences representing that of Miri Hainan Association with Chan on Chinese education issues in Miri, such as over the Miri campus of the Curtin University of Western Australia, one of Chan’s pet projects to turn Miri into a Resort City in 2005.
The Miri Hainan Association had never opposed the establishment of the Curtin University campus but it is opposed to the change in the teaching medium and character of the Riam Road Middle School as one of the 60 Chinese Independent Secondary Schools in the country to become a feeder school to prepare the students for future enrolment at the Miri campus of the Curtin University of Western Australia.
The teaching medium of Riam Road Middle School changed last year from Mandarin to English, maintaining Mandarin only as a subject, affecting its character and identity as a Chinese Independent Secondary School.
It is a gross abuse of power and blatant human rights violation for Tan to be deported and banned from returning to Sarawak to be reunited with his family just because Tan's position on certain Chinese education issues in Miri representing that of Miri Hainan Association clashed with Chan.
Tan's case deserves the concern, sympathy and support not only of the Miri Hainan Association and the Hainan community in Miri and Sarawak, but all Malaysians regardless of dialect, race, religion, political beliefs, territory or even national borders, for it constitutes a gross and intolerable violation of Tan's human rights as a citizen of Malaysia and a member of the 21st century world civil society.
Parliament which is currently in session should debate the gross violation of human rights by the Sarawak state government in deporting 23-year Sarawak resident Tan Seng Hin for defending the cause of Chinese education in Miri in his capacity as Miri Hainan Association Secretary, so that the Sarawak State Government would not give another “black eye” to Malaysia’s already dismal human rights record in the international arena.