State govt barring community leaders from opposition functions not a new thing, says SWP

Munan Laja

KUCHING, Oct 23: Prohibiting community leaders and village chiefs from attending functions of opposition parties is a practice that has long been carried out by the state government, claimed Sarawak Workers Party (SWP) chief Munan Laja.

He believed that the state ruling coalition, be it under the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) regime or the current Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) administration, has always reminded these leaders to stay away from functions organised by bodies not recognised by the state government including opposing political parties.

“Many tuai rumahs (village chiefs) were told not to allow their longhouses be used for political functions, unless it is organised by Barisan or GPS.

“The recent circular issued by the State Secretary will only tighten this prohibition to bar community leaders and village chiefs from attending functions not sanction by the GPS government,” Munan said in a statement.

He deemed such a directive and prohibition as contributing to the many quarrels among longhouse folks over the years, as it oppresses political freedom and had led to disunity.

“Such understanding is not healthy and will make our leaders close-minded and unaware of their surroundings, as they are only exposed to GPS policies and ideas.

“In a democratic country, this should not be allowed to happen. What they (GPS) are doing is akin to ‘blowing their own trumpet’, while shutting others out,” he continued.

The SWP president said those in power, especially in the state, should not resort to oppression and scare tactics to keep the people in check.

Such conduct would deter community leaders from voicing their opinions freely. Worse still, some would keep quiet and many of the people’s problems and grouses would not be heard, as community leaders are too afraid to speak up, he lamented.

“Don’t make our community leaders afraid to voice out the truth. This conduct should be stopped. In fact, how long can they (state ruling government) keep this up? They can’t keep our mouths shut forever,” Munan continued.

He felt that the state should be governed with strong democratic practices and good policies, instead of oppression.

Munan was commenting on a circular dated Oct 11 and signed by State Secretary Tan Sri Mohd Morshidi Abdul Ghani, which was distributed to the Resident’s Offices of the state’s 12 administrative divisions.

The directive prohibited community leaders and village chiefs from attending events and programmes not organised by the Sarawak government, including bodies not recognised by the state. — DayakDaily