Village chiefs can refuse entry to outsiders

A signboard prohibiting the entry of outsiders to a longhouse.

KUCHING: It is within the rights of a longhouse chief or a village head to refuse entry to outsiders.

Local Government Assistant Minister Datuk Dr Penguang Manggil said the authority in allowing outsiders to enter their villages and longhouses rests with the leaders which is crucial, particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic has spread to the rural areas.

“I have always stressed this at every function in the longhouses or kampung that they have every right not to allow anybody or person of questionable behaviour, be it illegal migrants or otherwise,” he said when contacted today.

He was responding to the call made by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas who said local leaders could stop outsiders from entering their villages.

Uggah, who is also Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman, had at a press conference on Saturday and said village heads are also empowered to make police reports if they are aware of the presence of illegal migrants.

“I could not agree more with what was said by the deputy chief minister with regard to the authority of the tuai rumah (longhouse chieftain) or ketua kampung (village head).

“This is more so at this particular point in time when Covid-19 is spreading rapidly in the rural areas,” Penguang said.

The Marudi assemblyman said, in this regard, many longhouses have taken their own initiative to enforce gated or manned roadblocks on roads leading to their longhouses or at strategic locations.

“Many had also put up signboards prohibiting the entry of outsiders into their longhouses during the conditional movement control order (CMCO) period,” he said.

Penguang also said rural folks in the constituency have conducted detailed headcounts in preparation of any eventuality.

“Many longhouses too have offered their prayers as well as miring (offering) ceremonies to deter evil spirits or sicknesses away from their longhouses,” he said.

Longhouse dwellers in Marudi sealing off a jalan tikus (rat trail) near their longhouse.