I am disappointed that former Public Accounts Committee Chairman, Datuk Nur Jazlan has decided that there is absolutely no need for the Government to be transparent and accountable for its decisions.
The Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the government need not have to give reasons for barring Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah from leaving Malaysia.He told reporters that “it's a power given under the Immigration Act, we don't need to explain why... We are not compelled to give a reason.”
Even if it is true that the law gives the Government such dictatorial rights, a Government who prides itself on transparency and accountability will nevertheless attempt to justify its actions.
The lack of such transparency and accountability only points to a Government which is intent on abusing its powers to repress its critics and dissidents. Maria Chin was on the way to South Korea to receive the prestigious Gwangju Prize Human Rights Award, an award previously bestowed upon Aung Sang Suu Kyi and Xanana Gusmao.
At the same time, even if a law grants the authorities the relevant discretion to exercise its powers, such discretion under any democratic regime governed by the rule of law must be exercised reasonably. Such discretion were never meant to be abused according to the authorities’ whims and fancies.
I have been barred from leaving the country since 24 July 2015. The Government and the Director of Immigration had similarly refused to provide me with any reason as to why I have been barred from leaving the country.
It was only when the decision was challenged in court that the Director of Immigration provided an affidavit which disclosed that I have had my travel rights restricted because I was allegedly under police investigations for “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy" which carries up to a 20-year prison sentence.
Even so, I have only been called in for questioning by the Police as a witness for their investigations and have never been informed by any parties that I was ever a suspect.
Hence the Government’s crude attempts to restrict our travel rights are outrageous abuse of power, which only serves to prove the critics allegations of Malaysia transforming itself to be police state run by a tin-pot dictatorship.