Closure of Sibu Airport for over three hours for visit by Mahathir to campaign for Barisan Nasional in Sarawak state elections scandalous and outrageous as it causes  great public inconvenience and a  gross abuse of power and should not be repeated

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Sibu,  Monday)The closure of the Sibu Airport for over three hours for the visit by Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to Sibu to  campaign for the Barisan Nasional in the Sarawak state general elections is  most scandalous and outrageous as it is a great public inconvenience and gross abuse of power.

This morning, my flight from Bintulu to Sibu was delayed because the Sibu airport was closed for over an hour  from 9 Mahathir was arriving at the Sibu airport. This afternoon, the flight of Lim Guan Eng from Sibu to Kuching was affected because the Sibu airport was closed for two hours from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. to accommodate Mahathir’s departure from the Sibu airport.

This is the first time that I have heard that airports are closed for hours on end because the Prime Minister is on visit.  I do not think even in the United States, airports are closed because the United States President  has come visiting – regardless of whether it is for official or private purpose!

The closure of the Sibu Airport for over three hours is doubly inexcusable and unjustifiable as Mahathir’s visit today is not in his capacity as Prime Minister of Malaysia, but as Barisan Nasional National Chairman, as he has come to Sarawak not to discharge his Prime Ministerial duties but to perform his political party duties to help campaign for the Sarawak Barisan Nasional in the Sarawak state general elections.

It is an election offence when there  is an abuse of power and misuse of government resources in an election campaign, and this is why in India, there was the classic case where the election to Parliament of an Indian Prime Minister was declared null and void by the Indian courts because the Indian Prime Minister had misused government facilities when using a government helicopter during  general elections while on a party campaign trail.

In Malaysia, there is no qualms whatsoever in flying the Prime Minister and Ministers around the country purely on party business in election campaign trails, and we have reached a stage where airports are closed during such visits.  This is most scandalous and outrageous, betraying a shocking mindset of psychological feudalism completely inappropriate for an egalitarian  democratic society.

I do not know whether  Mahathir is aware that the Sibu Airport was closed for over three hours today because of his visit, causing enormous public inconveniences to the flying public apart from the misuse of government resources and facilities during election campaigns for party and not public purpose.

If he is not aware, he should have the humility to apologise for the public inconveniences occasioned, reprimand the officers responsible for the airport closure  and issue a clear instruction that there should be no recurrence where airports are  to be closed because of his visits.

If Mahathir is aware and responsible for the closure of the Sibu Airport for over three hours  todayjust because of his campaign visit, is this going to mark a new “Imperial Prime Minister” where henceforth all airports in the country are to be closed when he is using them for his visits and he should  justify such a outrageous and scandalous decision.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman