Yesterday, accompanied by DAP MP for Seputeh, Teresa Kok, Tan flew into Miri from Kuala Lumpur to exercise his constitutional right to vote, and he was most surprised that he was allowed to clear immigration and enter Sarawak on his arrival at the Miri International Airport at about 6 p.m. yesterday.
I was also surprised when Teresa telephoned me in Bintulu from the Miri Airport to inform me that Tan had no problem in entering Sarawak and that he was then speaking to reporters who had waited for his arrival at the airport – as a day earlier in Miri, I had announced Tan’s travel plan to re-enter Sarawak accompanied by Teresa.
I thought that there was still hope for the Sarawak Barisan Nasional, SUPP and in particular the SUPP President and Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Dr. George Chan, who undoubtedly must bear the greatest personal responsibility for the arbitrary abuse of the Sarawak state immigration autonomy powers in expelling Tan who had worked and established a family in Miri for 23 years – that they could still see the error of their ways and heed public calls for respect for democracy and human rights.
I was however greatly mistaken, for some minutes later, Teresa made a second phone call to me from the Miri Airport informing me that an immigration officer had claimed that Tan’s clearance by the Immigration authorities was a “human error” and that he was not supposed to enter Sarawak state as he was on the black-list of persons prohibiting from entering the state
I was very surprised as to how such a “human error” could be made by the Immigration authorities. I understand the immigration authorities are now trying to locate Tan, who is back in Miri having entered Sarawak properly and legally to exercise his constitutional right to cast his vote on Thursday, to evict Tan from Sarawak.
The Sarawak Barisan Nasional government and Dr. George Chan had done Tan, a permanent resident in Sarawak for 23 years, a great injustice in its most uncaring, unconscionable and inhumane abuse of the state immigration autonomy powers in arbitrarily expelling Tan from Sarawak and breaking up his family in prohibiting his re-entry and being re-united with his family in Miri, without any good, satisfactory or acceptable explanation.
Tan had settled in Sarawak for 23 years and had made social, community and educational contributions, especially in the field of mother-tongue education, in the state.
When I was in Miri in March, I had highlighted the injustice of Tan’s plight not to question the state immigration autonomy powers but to challenge the undemocratic and gross abuse of power in expelling and banning Tan from re-entering Sarawak with proper and legitimate reasons which could withstand public scrutiny and meet the principles of accountability and transparency.
It is public knowledge that Dr. George Chan had not been happy with Tan because as Secretary of the Miri Hainan Association, Tan had crossed swords with the SUPP leader over the change of teaching medium and character of Chinese independent secondary education in Miri to prepare the students for future enrolment at the Miri campus of the Curtin University of Western Australia.
Disagreement, however intense, cannot justify abuse of power and violation of human rights and the bone of contention has nothing whatsoever to do with security – or Sarawak cannot claim to be a democratic society which respects human rights and uphold the rule of law.
Now that Tan is back in Miri, properly and legally, whatever the circumstances of his re-entry, I call on George Chan to respect Tan’s constitutional right to cast his vote on Thursday as well as to take all necessary measures to ensure that Tan’s reunion with his family is not broken up a second time without good, satisfactory or acceptable reason.
I call on George Chan to announce immediately that he personally has no objections to allowing Tan to be reunited with his wife and two sons in Miri and to remain in Sarawak, and that he would ensure that Tan would not be persecuted or harassed by the authorities or be ordered to be again expelled from Sarawak state.