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Indian origin lawyer in Malaysia barred from rally

Kuala Lumpur: An ethnic Indian lawyer-political activist has become the latest person from Malaysia to be declared a “persona non grata” by the Sarawak government and barred from entering the state, media reported Saturday.

P. Waythamoorthy, chairman of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), who was due to speak at a public forum on the Sedition Act and its implications on the aspirations of Sabah and Sarawak nationalists Saturday, was told by immigration officers at the Kuching international airport upon arrival that they had received “instructions from the chief minister’s office not to allow him in”, The Malaysian Insider reported.

“No reason was given,” Lina Soo, an organiser of the forum, said referring to his blacklisting.

Waythamoorthy resigned as deputy minister in Malaysia’s Barisan Nasional ruling coalition Feb 8 over what he and Hindraf said was the government’s failure to attend to the needs of the country’s Indian community.

Ethnic Indians comprise a little over seven percent of Malaysia’s total population of nearly 30 million.

“Now I’m wondering, why would the state allow 12,000 Bangladeshis to come in but not allow one Malaysian Indian in?” Soo said, referring to the state allowing Bangladeshis to enter the state and work as oil palm plantation workers.

Waythamoorthy is not the first person to fall foul of Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem’s promise to bar “racial bigots, religious extremists and trouble makers” from entering the state.

The last person to be turned away was Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin. The PKR women’s chief had to spend seven hours in a restricted area of the Kuching airport while she waited for the next available flight back to Kuala Lumpur after she was again denied entry into the state Nov 30.

Zuraida, too, was not given any reason for the denial of entry except that it was done “on instruction from the Chief Minister’s Office”.