Sarawak, our Middle East fiefdom?

By The Malaysian Insider

Subang MP Sivarasa Rasiah was barred from entering Sarawak, a state in his own country today, ostensibly on the orders of Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Where else would this ever happen in the world? Perhaps the Middle East where opposition politicians are usually roughed up, exiled or put under house arrest?

Fact is, this move by the Sarawak government to deny opposition politicians from entering the state and denying legitimate democratic activity is similar to actions by dictators in the Middle East and Africa in the past.

And it should be condemned by all.

For this isn’t the first time that Sivarasa has been barred from entering Sarawak. In the 1990 general elections, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and his supporters were also barred from entering the state and not allowed to campaign against the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

Why the desperation to stop politicians from turning up ahead of state elections?

Is this a desperate act of a leader who wants to cling on to power using autocratic ways? That Sarawak appears to be a fiefdom within Malaysia can now be confirmed by denying Sivarasa entry into his own country.

Politicians like Taib and government servants who are corrupt or confiscate religious books based on old Cabinet directives are the little Napoleons that are sabotaging Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s efforts to win back support after the BN’s disastrous Election 2008 campaign.

Three years on and having snapped his political foes’ winning streak in 16 by-elections, Najib does not need the petty and desperate action of Taib and others to ensure the BN keeps power.

Rather, their actions will hobble his efforts to show the good side of Malaysian democracy. If there is such a good side.

Sarawak will go to the polls soon. Barring opposition politicians from campaigning there is further handicapping them but it could spur a reaction against the long-serving Taib. Think about it.