Sarawak PKR criticises state government over work permits for non-native poll volunteers

SDMC chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah speaks to reporters in Kuching July 24, 2020. — Picture courtesy of Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas)
SDMC chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah speaks to reporters in Kuching July 24, 2020. — Picture courtesy of Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas)

KUCHING, Oct 20 — Sarawak PKR vice-chairman Roland Engan today criticised the state government for its move to require non-Sarawakian Malaysians to apply for work permits before they are allowed to campaign for their respective parties in the upcoming Sarawak state election.

He said the move should be stopped as it will affect the smooth process of election and was against the healthy growth of democracy in Sarawak.

“Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah must give a justifiable explanation why work permit will be needed by any non-Sarawakian to campaign in the 12th state election,” he said in a statement posted on his Facebook to respond to Uggah’s recent announcement.

He questioned how political volunteers could be considered workers requiring permits in accordance with the state laws.

“If the decision to impose the work permit requirement is to be carried out on political volunteers, then there should be a justifiable explanation issued through a public notice or ministerial order or circular and then gazetted,” Engan said.

He said if there is none, then the state government would be seen as preventing the exercise of democracy and preventing national political parties such as Pakatan Harapan, Perikatan Nasional, Barisan Nasional and PAS from actively being involved in campaigning for the state election.

Engan said the state government should have an open mind and not prevent Sarawakians from receiving information from fellow Malaysians from Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia.

He said there is nothing for the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government to be afraid of, adding that the people have every right to receive information from political volunteers with their physical presence during the campaign period.

“If the excuse that campaigning can still be carried out online, then it will be a big problem, especially in the interior areas,” he said.

Speaking in Debak in Betong Division two days ago, Uggah announced all election workers and campaigners from outside the state must obtain a work permit from the state Immigration Department before they were allowed entry in the event of a state election.

He said they would be in Sarawak to work so the permit was required.

Uggah, who is the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman, also warned Sarawakians that campaign workers from the peninsula were known for their more aggressive or robust behaviour.

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