Sarawak immigration issue: Bring the matter to ICJ if need be, suggests NGO

Datuk John Lau Pang Heng

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KUCHING, April 16: Sarawak Patriot Association recommends that the Sarawak government go to the International Court of Justice in the event the state is pressured to give up its immigration autonomy.

SPA chairman Datuk John Lau said such a step was proper because the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) is an international agreement signed by the United Kingdom, Singapore, Malaya, North Borneo (now Sabah) and Sarawak.

“Therefore, it is important for all Sarawakians to support the Sarawak government’s stand and actions on the immigration autonomy,” he said in a statement today.

Lau added that immigration autonomy was one of Sarawak’s birth rights under the MA63. It is also specified under Section 66 of the Immigration Act under the heading ‘Restriction on citizen’s right of entry into an East Malaysian State.’

The Immigration Act in Malaysia has specified immigration autonomy for Sarawak and Sabah.

Lau said that the immigration autonomy in Sarawak was needed as when Sarawak partnered North Borneo, Singapore and Malaya to form Malaysia, Sarawak was a country by herself.

“There were not many higher education opportunities then. All higher education needs to be obtained overseas. The immigration autonomy is to prevent outsiders from taking our cake away.

“As and when outsiders would like to work in Sarawak, they need to apply for work permits or special passes; otherwise, it is illegal to work here,” he said.

The immigration autonomy was also provided in 1963 to restrict the movements of outside workers working in Sarawak and also to prevent the entry of fanatics. In this way, Sarawak could groom and train locals to be competent to meet the needs of the job market, Lau explained.

“This was to prevent Sarawak being colonised. As Lord Cobbold said, ‘If at any time, Malaya is to colonise Sarawak, the partnership shall fail.’ We are convinced that the federal government will honour the Sarawak Immigration autonomy,” reckoned Lau. — DayakDaily