Let Israeli athletes compete in Bumi Kenyalang, state govt urged

Kho Teck Wan

KUCHING, Jan 23: The Sarawak government should exercise its autonomy rights and permit Israeli swimmers to participate in the International Paralympic Championship to be held here from July 29 to Aug 4 this year.

Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Women chief Kho Teck Wan cautioned that not doing so might result in the state losing its host position.

“I acknowledge that Malaysia is a Muslim country and respect its immigration right. However, here in Sarawak, we have our own immigration autonomy, and we are proud of our social harmony and acceptance of others. Therefore, we shall look beyond politics and religion and let the true spirit of sports prevail,” she said in a press statement today.

She was commenting on Malaysia’s decision to impose a blanket ban on all Israeli athletes from participating in the upcoming 2019 World Para Swimming Championships.

According to Kho, Sarawak, as an equal partner in Malaysia, had immigration autonomy through Annex E of the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

“The International Paralympic Committee was quoted by AFP as being disappointed at Malaysia’s federal government’s decision to ban Israeli athletes from entering the country.

“The UK Labour Party’s leaders, at their House of Commons, had called on the British government to oppose Malaysia’s decision and suggested that the championship venue be relocated,” said Kho.

She opined that by allowing Israeli athletes to enter Sarawak, Bumi Kenyalang would be seen as a land which is friendly towards the international community.

“Since 2019 is also ‘Visit Sarawak Year’, the move will certainly help promote Sarawak’s tourism industry.” — DayakDaily