KUCHING, March 14 — The travel ban imposed on Parti Solidarity Tanah Airku (Sabah STAR) president Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan to Sarawak is due to political reasons, Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Abang Openg said today.
“His name is on the original list of those who were banned from entering,” he said, referring to a number of politicians and civil society activists being stopped from entering the state during the campaign in the state elections last year.
His predecessor the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem, who imposed the ban, was heavily criticised for imposing the ban, seen as giving the state Barisan a huge advantage over the Opposition in the elections.
Among those who were barred from Sarawak were Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Azmin Ali and Opposition federal lawmakers Rafizi Ramli, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Teresa Kok and Zuraida Kamaruddin.
However, some of these Opposition politicians have since been allowed to travel to Sarawak.
“Yes, the ban (on Jeffrey) is politics,” Abang Johari said, without elaborating when asked by reporters.
On March 11, Jeffrey, the younger brother of Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, was stopped at the Immigration counter at the Kuching International Airport from entering Sarawak.
He was due to attend a meeting of the Dayak National Congress civil society movement the next day.
DNC president Mengga Mikui, who criticised Abang Johari for the ban, had said that Jeffrey was not an enemy of Sarawak although he was politically not aligned to the ruling Barisan Nasional.
Mengga had said as a fellow Malaysian the Sabah Opposition politician had the right to enter the state to participate in lawful social activities.