KUCHING, Oct 19 — Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen today accused the state government of doing a great disservice to the people by flip-flopping on the EnterSarawak policy.
He said the state government announced on October 16 that all fully vaccinated Malaysians were allowed to enter Sarawak without having to apply through the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee’s (SDMC) website.
“Then suddenly, at about 11.30pm on the same night, SDMC amended that policy by qualifying that only Sarawakians and those peninsula Malaysian civil servants serving in Sarawak or employees of private sectors serving in Sarawak are allowed to enter Sarawak without having to apply through the SDMC website.
“It is as if the Covid-19 virus will differentiate between Sarawakians and non-Sarawakians before infecting a person,” he said in a statement.
Chong said such differential treatment is not based on science and medical data, but political sentiment, adding that GPS is trying to portray a “Sarawak First” policy that is making life difficult for everyone.
He said so far, despite all the extra EnterSarawak standard operating procedures (SOPs) and the quarantine imposed on those returning from peninsula Malaysia, the state has had the highest number of infections in the country for two months.
He claimed the EnterSarawak SOPs and quarantine are not effective in containing the spread of Covid-19.
In a separate statement, civil society Persatuan Pemangkin Daya Masyarakat (ROSE) president Ann Teo also questioned the discriminatory nature of the SOPs imposed on individuals from peninsula Malaysia.
She asked if the relaxed conditions of entry into Sarawak were only for Sarawakians to fly back to vote in the upcoming state elections.
“However, this does not mean that they — the Sarawakian-registered voters who reside in other states of Malaysia — are guaranteed to travel back due to travel costs and the need to take time off from work,” she said.
Teo added by making non-Sarawakians apply to enter the state suggested that SDMC can now act in an arbitrary manner in deciding who can enter Sarawak.
“It also leaves us to speculate that this rule means that SDMC can bar entries of election volunteers and helpers who are not Sarawakians but who are coming to Sarawak for legitimate political activity during an election,” she said.
“Will SDMC bar them but admit GPS-friendly helpers? How else does one read this latest discriminatory rule that is not in harmony with the science on how Covid spreads?”
Teo called upon SDMC to immediately allow all fully vaccinated Malaysians to enter the state without prior application.
“Sadly, the discriminatory nature of the SOPs also contradicts the state’s intention to attract domestic tourism in wanting to reopen the state’s economy.
“If any sector has been crushed by this Covid-19 pandemic, it is our tourism sector. Why make ourselves less competitive?” she asked.