PETALING JAYA: Asylum seekers from Palestine should be properly vetted to ensure that militant and radical elements are not allowed entry, according to a coalition of civil organisations in Sabah and Sarawak.
Peter John Jaban of the Sarawak Association for Peoples’ Aspiration, said the Sarawak government should ensure the autonomy of its immigration control even as Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim shows continued support for Hamas, a group often seen as a militant organisation.
Jaban speculated that Anwar’s continuing support for Hamas “suggests there will be little attempt to properly vet asylum seekers from Palestine” which he said carried a risk of entry by radicalised and violent factions.
He said their presence in the country could disturb Malaysia’s social fabric. “This issue is all the more pressing in Sarawak, the only non-Muslim majority state in the country,” he said.
Jaban noted that the controversial Ustaz Abdul Somad Batubara had preached in Kuching earlier this year despite being refused entry by several other countries in the region and said Sarawakians must “guard carefully against radical influences”.
Daniel John Jambun, the president of the Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation, hoped this warning would be heeded by the Sabah government as well, to avoid allowing the state to turn into a “terrorist haven”.
Other signatories to the statement included representatives from Gabungan Orang Asal Sabah/Sarawak, the Independent Coalition Of Natives Sarawak, the Gindol Initiative for Civil Society Borneo, Rumpun Dayak Sabah, Persatuan Pembangunan Sosial Komunity Sabah, Persatuan Etnik Dayak Asal Sarawak, Gerempung Raban Dayak Sarawak, Persatuan Veteran Tentera Kor Renjer, the Sarawak Patriots Association, the Society for Kuching Urban Poor, Persatuan Komuniti Bersatu Kanibongang, Pitas, Sabah, and Forum Masyarakat Adat Dataran Tinggi Borneo.