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KUCHING, Jan 30: Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S) is concerned that the escalating diplomatic spat between Malaysia and countries like Israel could have consequences on the economy of Sarawak and Malaysia as a whole.
S4S spokesperson Erick Chin was referring to the Malaysian government’s decision to ban Israeli athletes from entering the country for the World Para Swimming Championship slated for July 29 to Aug 4 here.
The International Paralympics Committee (IPC) has since stripped Malaysia of the right to host the championship.
“The decision of one man, but the entire population would suffer. This move is jeopardising the state’s and the country’s image and reputation at the international level,” Chin said in a press statement today.
“Sports should promote world peace without any discrimination.”
Moreover, Chin pointed out that Sarawak also incurred losses due to expenses on preparations as well as from tourism receipts and hotels bookings, which have been cancelled.
According to Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, 64 countries and 1,678 athletes and officials had indicated that they would be participating in the event.
Chin observed that the federal government’s foreign policy seemed to be putting a barrier on potential investors and trading partners that were important for the country.
“The federal government is creating more enemies from the conflict row with countries like Singapore, and now Israel.
“After winning the general election, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has suspended the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) project to link the east and west coasts of Peninsular Malaysia,” he said of a project that he believed would have benefitted the country.
On the exercising Sarawak’s immigration autonomy, which many quarters had suggested, to enable the Israeli athletes to come in for the event, Chin noted that it was the Foreign Ministry that imposed the ban.
“It has nothing to do with Sarawak’s immigration power because even if the state government allowed the Israeli athletes to enter, they would still not be able to enter if the Ministry declined (the visa).
“If Israelis want to enter, they need to go through diplomatic channels to get a visa, but Malaysia has no ties with Israel.”. — DayakDaily