Minister: S’wak will ban Umno Youth chief if he incites discord, not for dissenting views

Abdul Karim speaking during a press conference at his Ministry's office on April 5, 2024.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, April 5: Sarawak will not hesitate to bar Umno Youth chief Dr Akmal Saleh from entering the State if he comes down here to incite racial and religious sentiments or provoke unrest, but not solely for expressing dissenting opinions.

Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry, and Performing Arts Sarawak Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah emphasised the Sarawak government’s resolve to act against those intending to create disharmony and sow discord, irrespective if they are politicians, religious preachers, Muslims or non-Muslims.


“It is not our immediate intent to ban individuals for voicing dissenting opinions. We must be mindful that the Malaysian Constitution allows for freedom of expression. As citizens, people have the right to go to every corner of the country. That’s how I look at this.

“However, bear in mind that Sarawak has the right to make sure the racial and religious harmony that we enjoy to this day continues to be protected and safeguarded. We will not allow that to be disturbed,” he said after a press conference on the Samarahan Food and Cultural Festival at his Ministry’s office in Bangunan Baitulmakmur today.

Abdul Karim’s remarks came in response to calls by activists from Sarawak and Sabah to ban Akmal and four others from both Borneo regions for allegedly stoking racial, religious, and social tensions as well as social discord in the region.

In a joint statement by Peter John Jaban of Sarawak Association for People’s Aspirations (SAPA) and Atama Katama of Sabah Defenders of Ancestral Lands (MOPOT) yesterday, the other four individuals named were independent speakers and preachers Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, Muhammad Zamri Vinoth Kalimuthu, Syakir Nasoha, and Firdaus Wong Wai Hung.

Abdul Karim highlighted the need for activists like Peter John to reflect on their actions, recalling Peter John’s previous criticisms of Sarawak when he was with Sarawak Radio based in the UK.

“Should we ban him from coming back to the city (for expressing dissenting views)? He, too, had created disharmony among the people. While he is the one advocating people to be banned, he should also examine his own conduct,” he said.

Nonetheless, Abdul Karim stressed Sarawak would definitely prohibit individuals who commit serious offences and pit people in Sarawak’s diverse community against each other, as such actions could disrupt the harmony within the State.

“No one should overstep boundaries that encroach upon others (sensitivities). That’s when we will take appropriate measures according to the law,” he added.

Yesterday, Abdul Karim urged the authorities to urgently take decisive actions against Akmal and other agitators and troublemakers fanning race and religion emotions in the country, regardless of who they are or what political party they represent as leaving the “Allah” socks controversy to escalate would be detrimental to the nation. — DayakDaily