"We are not being allowed to practice freedom of speech and freedom of association. If you do, you end up in prison. There can be torture until you can die.”
KOTA KINABALU: UK-based Borneo rights activist Doris Jones, 46, who heads the Sabah Sarawak Union UK, told BBC News Radio Northampton on Friday that she doesn’t understand why Malaysia doesn’t want to allow Sabah and Sarawak to go from the list of states in the Federation, so that they can stand on their own two feet. “It’s a big question.”
BBC claimed that Jones was leading the campaign in the UK for independence back home on behalf of “some people in Sabah and Sarawak”. The station did not elaborate.
“If they don’t let us go, then we have the right to go independent,” said Jones who manages the Sabah Sarawak Keluar Malaysia (SSKM) Page on Facebook. “We are countries which can be on our own like Singapore and Brunei. We are entitled to stand on our own two feet.”
She was being interviewed, on repression of human rights and free speech in Borneo, on the eve of a peaceful protest outside the Malaysian High Commission in London. She explained the difficulties of running a campaign at home from the other side of the world.
“We are not being allowed to practice freedom of speech and freedom of association. If you do, you end up in prison. There can be torture until you can die.”
The rights activist also stressed that Interpol is not after her as made out by the Malaysian Government in the local media but conceded that she may be arrested under the Sedition Act if she returns home. Her family has not been in contact with her since their mobile phones have allegedly been taken away.
“I am not stopping the campaign because of their intimidation. It’s their way of doing things. It’s not that I don’t love my family.”
SSKM have between 200 and 300 volunteers in Sabah. About 14 of them have since been hauled up but released and may face unspecified charges. “Five of them were arrested at a petrol station. They had nothing on them. The first group had only pen and paper with them for people to sign a Petition,” said Jones. “The goal of this campaign is for us to stand on our own feet.”
Jones, who has been abroad the last two decades and led a campaign for the past five years for independence, told the radio station that she was about ten years old when she realised that something was not right about Sabah and Sarawak being in a Federation with the peninsula. “We were not allowed to say anything,” she said. “Racism, discrimination. There’s no democracy.”
BBC said that Interpol, in a statement, told the radio station that they have never been contacted by the Malaysian Government on Doris Jones.
The Foreign Office, in a similar statement, said that they will stand up for the human rights of anyone and this includes the right to free speech and freedom of association. “Anyone in the UK who’s being harassed or threatened by anyone should report to the police. We support the right of anyone to express themselves in free speech without any threat or intimidation.”
“We, along with our EU partners, continue to urge the Malaysian Government to pursue laws and practices that foster tolerance and mutual respect.”
The Malaysian High Commission declined comment. (Free Malaysia Today)