HC Deb 22 January 1947 vol 432 cc187-8
1. Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that police action has been taken in Sibu, east of Kuching, against the free expression of opinion by those opposed to the cession of Sarawak; and whether he will take steps to ensure that orderly criticism and democratic rights are preserved for all citizens of this Colony.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Creech Jones)

The Governor of Sarawak has reported that certain anti-cession posters displayed in Sibu were removed by the police on 14th November. This was done by order of the local police chief on the ground that they would lead to inter-racial animosity and incidents, after reports had been received that strong feeling had been aroused by the display of these posters in the Chinese area. Many posters had also been affixed to Malay houses without permission and against the wishes of the owners, who asked the police to remove them. As regards the second part of the Question, I am as jealous of preserving democratic rights as my hon. Friend and will certainly take steps with the local authorities to prevent infringement if occasion arises.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Can the Minister say whether any of those who affixed the posters have been proceeded against or have been ill-treated in any way?

Mr. Creech Jones

I am unable to say that, but there had been previous incidents, and the Governor had already taken some action against those who were involved.

Mr. Gammans

Can the Minister assure the House that there is no impediment whatever to free expression of opinion in Sarawak against the proposals for cession?

Mr. Creech Jones

There is no interference with civil liberty in any regard.

17. Mr. Pickthorn

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies on what authority an official circular was issued in Sarawak threatening with instant dismissal any Government servant associating himself with any activity designed to keep open the question of cession.

Mr. Creech Jones

The circular was issued by the Chief Secretary under the authority of the Governor, who was acting within his constitutional powers.

Mr. Pickthorn

Is the right hon. Gentleman clear that that answer is consistent with the answer he gave to Question No. 1 this afternoon?

Mr. Creech Jones

I hope it is consistent.

Mr. William Teeling

May I ask it that means that any official of any other British Colony who disapproves of the present Constitution there will have to resign? Is this rule being applied in other Colonies or only in Sarawak?

Mr. Creech Jones

Oh, no, Sir. His Majesty has a right, I think, to expect loyalty from his servants.

Sir Waldron Smithers

Tell that to the T.U.C.

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