SUPP Women chief tells Umno Youth leader to refrain from interfering with Sarawak leader’s decision on Palestinian refugees

Kho Teck Wan

KUCHING, Nov 15: United Malays National Organisation (Umno) Youth leader Dr Muhamad Akmal Saleh should refrain from interfering with the decision of Sarawak leaders, especially regarding the acceptance of Palestinian refugees into the State.

This came from Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Women chief Kho Teck Wan who has urged Muhamad Akmal to retract his statement demanding Gabungan Parti Srawak (GPS) secretary-general Dato Sri Alexander Nanta Linggi to withdraw his statement rejecting the idea of accepting refugees, particularly from countries known for violences, anger and hatred.

“He (Muhamad Akmal) should respect Sarawak’s immigration autonomy to reject visitors,” she said in a statement today.

Supporting Nanta’s stand that Sarawak does not need to accept refugees of wars, Kho agreed that Sarawak should be careful about the possibility of Palestinan refugees entering Sarawak so as to maintain and nurture the peace and harmony enjoyed to this day.

“We do not need any elements that can potentially create divisiveness among Sarawakians.

“Sarawakians can show compassion to war victims through international donations. However, we don’t need to get ourselves involved in any international conflicts,” she emphasised.

Even though Sarawak has been recognised as a high income State by the World Bank, Kho pointed out that priority should be given to increase the household income and care for the well-being of Sarawakians.

“We must stay focused on developing Sarawak through Premier’s Post-Covid Development Strategy 2030,” she added.

On Monday (Nov 13), Nanta, who is also Federal Works Minister, expressed support for a call for caution from Sarawak Association for Peoples’ Aspiration (SAPA) and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) regarding the potential entry of Palestinian refugees into Sarawak.

Given Sarawak’s small size, Nanta opined that the State should not be burdened with refugees but attention and care should be focused on underprivileged communities.

Social activist Peter John Jaban has called on the Sarawak government to guard its immigration autonomy stringently in light of the possible influx of refugees from Palestine, adding that Sarawak should not follow the federal administration blindly.

He had expressed concerns that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s continued support for Hamas suggested that there would be little attempt or requirement to properly vet asylum seekers from Palestine, which could carry the risk of infiltration by radical and violent factions.

Party Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) president Voon Lee Shan echoed these sentiments, emphasising the complexities of providing shelter and sustenance to refugees and the need to prioritise the local community’s needs. — DayakDaily