Tighten border control in Sabah, protect integrity of state elections — Peter John

Peter John Jaban (file photo)

KUCHING, Sept 22: A Sarawakian human rights activist is calling on the tightening of border control in Sabah to prevent any illegal entries that may undermine the integrity of the upcoming Sabah state election.

Activist Peter John Jaban demanded that measures be put in place to secure the borders of Sabah and protect the election process as well as prevent the spread of Covid-19 following a statement from Sabah Police Commissioner Hazani Ghazali on intelligence of a large influx of people from neighbouring countries aiming to create chaos during Sabah state election (PRN) to be held on Sept 26.

“The vague warnings from the Police Commissioner of ‘foreigners causing trouble’ in Sabah belie the seriousness of the threat which should not be taken lightly nor used as an excuse to undermine the integrity of the election result. Therefore, the onus is on the security forces to prevent this, before, during and after polling day,” he said in statement today.

Peter John, who is currently in Sabah, believed that the warnings of Hazani “seemed to have hardly registered”.

“The Prime Minister (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) himself has gone on record as saying that the Sabah polls are an important indicator for GE15 and now we are being warned of foreigners infiltrating Malaysia and potentially causing a disturbance.

“These security issues could create serious impact, not just for the people of Sabah but also for the whole country. This even has the potential to spark an international incident. The police and armed forces should be on high alert,” said Peter John.

Citing the abduction of Bernard Then in 2015, Peter John pointed out that border security issues have been a longstanding problem for the Borneo states.

“These issues have affected tourism, and also economic development and investment, long before this election period. Now we are also in the middle of a global pandemic, with cases rising across Sabah, so the health of all Malaysians is at stake,” he said.

Peter John called Hazani’s statement vague on the potential disturbance as well as on any response planned by the police and armed forces.

“Hazani Ghazali should be doing everything in his power to reassure the people of Sabah, Sarawak and Malaysia as a whole that their safety is being prioritised at the border.

“The security forces must ensure a higher level of preparedness. It is their responsibility now to ensure that Malaysians can rely on this election result and, more importantly, that Sabahans are protected, both from ‘trouble’ on the day and from potential Covid-19 infections.

“This must continue into the future as the sovereignty of Malaysia is at stake. The armed forces must be supported by the political will to protect the people of every part of Malaysia, regardless of who is in government,” said Peter John. — DayakDaily