Borneo indigenous activists: Don’t let Sabah and Sarawak become the next Gaza

AGAINST a likely influx of Palestinian refugees as predicted by SUHAKAM recently, Sarawakian social activist Peter John Jaban has cautioned his state government to guard its immigration autonomy carefully.

In fact, the need for the Sarawak state authorities to prioritise its demographic mix and social harmony has become more pressing with Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim maintaining his support for Hamas.

This has prompted Jaban to remind his state government of “social issues on our backyard should be addressed first before we seek to support the personal agenda of the PM”.

“The whole world is horrified by what is happening to Palestinian civilians caught up in the conflict. Of course, Sarawakians feel keenly for all victims of war,” the Sarawak Associations for Peoples Aspiration publicity and information chief rationalised in a media statement.

“Our PM’s insistence in maintaining his support for Hamas, however, is a different matter. Hamas is an Islamist, militant movement which is directly responsible for this phase of conflict and for the killing of Israeli citizens, many of them young children or elderly.

“It also openly supports the imposition of an Islamic Caliphate and has demonstrated that it is prepared to use terrorism to further this.”

Jaban who is also the Global Human Rights Federation (GHRF) deputy president further expressed concern that Anwar’s continuing support for Hamas “suggests that there will be little attempt or requirement to properly vet any asylum seekers from Palestine”.

Peter John Jaban

“This risks entry by radicalised and violent factions who could disturb the social fabric of moderate and multicultural Malaysia,” he stated.

“This issue is all the more pressing in Sarawak being the only non-Muslim majority state in the country and also recently identified as one of the poorest states in the Federation. This is why we are calling on the Sarawak government to stand firm in controlling our borders.”

Citing an example, Jaban who is deemed as “Sarawak’s most active activist” said the state has already seen “extremist and segregationist” Indonesian Muslim cleric Abdul Somad Batubara preaching in Kuching earlier this year despite him being refused entry by several countries, including Singapore.

“We have also seen our Deputy Premier earlier this year, proclaiming that the Madinah Charter would form a good basis for the constitution of a multi-racial, secular state. Sarawakians must guard carefully against radical influences,” he pointed out.

“Any suggestion that Hamas members could gain asylum in Malaysia should be rejected, especially by the Sarawak state government. If their Arab neighbours continue to deny them asylum, then what business does Malaysia have in going against global policy?”

As such backdrop, Jaban asserted that “regardless if Anwar insists on isolating himself, Sarawak should not follow blindly”.

“This is the reason we retained our immigration autonomy so that we could retain our own character and individuality and protect our own economic development. Support for a terrorist organisation cannot be part of that,” he insisted.

Daniel John Jambun

Meanwhile, Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation president Daniel John Jambun echoed Jaban’s caution to the GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) and GRS (Gabungan Rakyat Sabah) ruling coalitions to tighten up immigration laws in both Borneo states.

“Sabah is already swarmed with illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries squatting illegally in 543 colony spread throughout the state. Any influx of refugees from Palestine will turn Sabah into a terrorist haven which would then be very hard to control as can be seen and felt now,” added Jambun. – Nov 13, 2023

Editor’s Note: Jaban’s media statement on behalf of the Sarawak Associations for Peoples Aspiration is supported by a dozen other Sabah and Sarawakian NGOs. They are:

  • Gabungan Orang Asal Sabah/ Sarawak
  • Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (BoPiMaFo)
  • Independent Coalition Of Natives Sarawak
  • Gindol Initiative for Civil Society Borneo
  • Pertubuhan Kebajikan Rumpun Dayak Sabah
  • Persatuan Pembangunan Komuniri Sosial Sabah (BANGUN)
  • Persatuan Etnik Dayak Asal Sarawak
  • Gerempung Raban Dayak Sarawak
  • Sarawak Patriots Association
  • Persatuan Komuniti Bersatu Kanibongang Pitas, Sabah
  • Forum Masyarakat Adat Dataran Tinggi Borneo
  • Jose Telado (Sabahan human rights activist)

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