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Sarawak to ban Akmal only if he visits to incite, says minister
Published on: Friday, April 05, 2024
By: Malay Mail
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Sarawak to ban Akmal only if he visits to incite, says minister
Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the Sarawak government should only ban Umno Youth chief Dr Muhamad Akmal Salleh if he visits the state with the intention of inciting disharmony. (Malay Mail pic)
KUCHING: Sarawak Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah today said that there is no need to ban Umno Youth chief Dr Muhamad Akmal Saleh from entering the state just because of his “dissenting views” deemed as uncomfortable to many Sarawakians.

However, he said if Dr Akmal were to come to Sarawak to incite and create disharmony, pitting one community against another or one religion against another, then he deserved to be banned.

“The same goes for other people whether they are politicians or religious teachers or whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims, they should also be barred from entering,” Karim said during a press conference called to announce the Samarahan Food and Cultural Festival to be held from May 10 to 19 this year.

Karim was asked to respond to calls from many Sarawakians, including human rights activist Peter John Jaban, for the state government to bar Dr Akmal from Sarawak over his continued use of racial and religious rhetoric when calling for the boycott of the KK Super Mart chain over the controversial “Allah” socks issue.

He said he personally feels that Sarawak is open to anyone who wants to visit, adding that the state can only stop people from entering if they have committed serious offences, such as inciting racial and religious tensions among the various ethnic or religious groups.

Karim said that the state has the right to make sure that the racial and religious harmony enjoyed by Sarawakians is preserved.

“We do not want them to disturb us,” he said.

Karim stressed that the state government cannot just listen to one or two people, like Jaban, to impose the entry ban.

“He (Jaban) condemned us before when he was with Radio Free Sarawak based in the United Kingdom. Should we also ban him from coming back to Sarawak?

“However, if everybody who gives dissenting views must be barred from entering, then at the end of the day, nobody will come to Sarawak just because they say something that the people of Sarawak are probably not comfortable with.

“If you are a citizen of the nation, you have the right to go to any corner of the country. That is how I Iook at it,” he said.

In a statement yesterday, Jaban called on Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg to place Dr Akmal and four others on the Immigration blacklist of people barred from entering the state.

He said individuals who have contributed to the escalation of racial and religious tensions, as well as social discord in the country should be banned from entering Sarawak.

The other four are Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, Firdaus Wong, Zamri Vinoth and Shakir Nasoha.

Jaban said Abang Johari should compile a new list of individuals from peninsular Malaysia who are not welcomed to protect the state’s interests, peaceful environment, and values of inclusivity, tolerance, and social harmony.

He suggested that the proposed updated Immigration blacklist should include individuals who have incited protests and boycotts, fuelled racial and religious intolerance, created fear and insecurity, and promoted divisive attitudes.

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