Saturday, 3 October 2015

Lawyers: Doris Jones can’t be stripped of citizenship

Sabahans think that she should remain in the UK and highlight the plight of Sabah and Sarawak in the Federation with the peninsula.

KOTA KINABALU: The legal fraternity in Sabah are unanimous that local freedom fighter Doris Jones @ Doris Yapp Kim Yuon who heads the UK-based Sabah Sarawak Union-United Kingdom (SSU-UK), an NGO behind the Sabah Sarawak Keluar Malaysia (SSKM) Facebook page, cannot be deprived of her citizenship.

“Canceling Jones’s passport only restricts her ability to travel and does not strip her of Malaysian citizenship,” said lawyer Tengku Fuad Ahmad who represents four SSKM volunteers facing sedition charges in Sabah.

Sabahans in general think that she should remain in the UK and continue to highlight the plight of Sabah and Sarawak in the Federation with the peninsula. “I don’t see what useful purpose can be served by her returning and ending up behind bars,” said Daniel John Jambun, the President of the UK-based Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (Bopim).

Former Sabah Chief Minister Yong Teck Lee, like other lawyers, echoed Fuad’s stand. “The Malaysian Government cannot deny a citizen the right to return to the country,” he added. “The government cannot deny a citizen the right to his or her passport.”

“Whether the passport holder might be arrested or detained for investigation upon returning to Malaysia is a different matter. A citizen has the right to a passport.”

Yong, who is also Sabah Progressive Party (Sapp) president, said that by denying Jones her passport, the government only looks ridiculous. “It’s a denial of her human rights.”

The former chief minister has been left wondering why the government does not want to give Jones her passport if they wanted her to return, be arrested and face charges for seeking the exit of Sabah and Sarawak from the Federation with the peninsula. “In any case, we can assume that Jones wants to return home to visit her ageing parents and tend to them in their last days.”

Yong believes that Jones has permanent residence in the UK, having been married before to a British citizen, but if she’s not allowed by Putrajaya to return home, “she will become the first Sabahan forced into exile.”

Fuad fears for Jones and thinks that it is better for her to remain in the UK. “The sedition charge against her and the act of canceling her passport, to me, is evidence of persecution, which could assist her in the event that she decides to seek asylum in the UK.”

Fuad warned that if Jones insisted on returning, she will have to contend with a regime that is strongly-motivated against her. “The authorities are determined to prosecute and convict her.”

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