It is not only a gross human rights violation but most uncaring, unconscionable
and inhumane for the Sarawak state government to misuse its state immigration
autonomy powers to expel Tan from Sarawak after Tan 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 mother-tongue
education with regard to the development of Chinese education without the
State government giving any good or acceptable reason.
Tan, 61, married to Loo Ah Looi with 2 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 on the cancellation of 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 come up against a blank wall.
What sin or crime has 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?
This is what Tan had written in his appeal to the Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dr. George Chan dated 13th February seeking his assistance to gain re-entry to Sarawak to be reunited with his wife and sons:
"Up to today I am still in the dark as to why I was asked to leave Sarawak
and refused re-entry when I have been staying in Sarawak for the last 23
years approximately. There are numerous rumours circulating in Miri
as to the possible reasons all of which I would like to categorically deny.
“During my stay in Sarawak I have not committed any crime nor any
offence. I am not a member of any organization including political parties
nor involved in any activities organized by any political parties.
The only organization I joined was the Hainan Association, Miri, which
I joined in 1995 and until today that is the only organization I belong
“There are allegations against myself that I was at the Miri Airport welcoming the President of Party Keadilan Nasional and that there were photograph or video to prove this.
“I wish to categorically deny these baseless allegation against myself and sincerely hope that if these were the basis of banning myself from Sarawak investigation be carried out by your good office to verify the allegation otherwise it would be very unfair to cause me such injustice.
“There were also allegations that I have written numerous articles or press release for opposition party or article attacking the Government I wish also to categorically deny these allegations. I have not written any article or press release except those related to the stand taken by our Hainan Association relating to policy of the SM Chung Hua Miri and SM Riam Road Miri in their implementation of Chinese education. These articles/press release were written by me in my capacity as the secretary of the Hainan Association reflecting the decision made by the Committee of the Hainan Association after extensive discussion and not the decision of any one person.
“As a fellow Malaysian and a pensioner all I wanted is to spend the rest of my retirement in Miri with my family who have been in Miri for 20 years. We have made Miri our home and there is no other place we can go to.”
George Chan took his sweet time of more than two weeks to reply to Tan,
“thanking him for his letter of 13
February, 2001, and said:
“I shall endeavour to assist you, but I am not sure if my efforts could bring about the desired results for you.”
I find Chan’s callous indifference to Tan’s appeal most shocking, taking more than two weeks to give such an atrocious reply – when he should have during the period resolved Tan’s problem.
What is significant is that three days before he penned his reply to Tan, George attended for the first time the oath-taking ceremony of the Miri Hainam Association where he said in his speech that he did not know the reason for the expulsion of Tan from Sarawak but that no such action would taken for “political reasons”.
I believe that if a referendum is taken not only in Miri but in Sarawak as whether it is believable that Chan did not know the reasons for Tan’s expulsion and refusal for re-entry, it would be most surprising if apart from a handful of SUPP politicos the overwhelming majority of the people of Sarawak could believe Chan’s ignorance about the reasons for Tan’s plight.
In fact, if Chan was really ignorant about the reasons for Tan’s expulsion from Sarawak and refused re-entry, he had been doubly irresponsible and negligent and not fit to continue as the first Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak and the highest Chinese political leader in the state government: firstly, for not knowing why Tan was expelled and secondly, for not taking immediate action to get the expulsion order revoked!
It is public knowledge that Chan had not been happy with Tan because of his position on various Chinese education issues in his capacity as representative of the Miri Hainan Association on the SM Chung Hua Miri and SM Riam Road Miri, which directly clashed with Chan’s stands – but to take punitive action against Tan to the extent of banning him from Sarawak and breaking up his family for these reasons is not only most unfair to Tan but an open contempt for the Hainan association and community, as Tan was at all times representing the Hainan Association of Miri.
Up to now, neither Chan nor the Sarawak State Government had given any reason for the actions they had taken against Tan to justify the breaking up of Tan’s family after 23 years of residence in the state.
In a democratic society, the government exercises powers not because they are divinely ordained, but because they are entrusted by the people to the government of the day to discharge them in accordance with the rule of law and the principles of natural justice and fair play.
Only a feudal or an autocratic government with the mentality and culture of not having to give reasons can refuse to give reasons for the exercise of its powers like the uprooting of people after 23 years of work and residence as well as breaking up of sacred family units. The Sarawak State government is not acting as a democratic government but as a feudal, oppressive and undemocratic government when it refuses to give reasons for expelling Tan and deny him re-entry to Sarawak.
I believe the Sarawak state government had abused its powers and acted unlawfully when it expelled Tan without giving any reasons and that this illegal action can be challenged in the court of law. The DAP is prepared to offer legal assistance to take up the case on behalf of Tan, provided this has the support of the people of Sarawak and Malaysia and who are prepared to contribute to a legal fund in case heavy costs have to be paid for the legal action in the event of a defeat in court.
Whether legal action is taken or not to challenge the legality of the expulsion of Tan and refusal for his re-entry to join his wife and sons in Miri, the Sarawak state government had acted in gross violation of human rights.
There is no doubt that Chan must be held responsible for the State government’s action against Tan, and DAP is giving Chan 48 hours to rescind the state immigration directive expelling 23-year resident Chinese educationist Tan Seng Hin from Sarawak and breaking up his family or a national and international campaign against gross human rights violation by the Sarawak state government would be launched.
If Tan is not allowed to return to Sarawak by Thursday, I will start the national and international campaign against the Sarawak state government for gross violation of human rights against Tan. As a first step, I will convene a meeting of all political parties, NGOs and Malaysians concerned about human rights to establish a national coalition to defend Tan’s human rights and I am prepared to come to Miri and Sarawak to take an active part in the campaign.