Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Why doesn’t the Government just stop all Malaysians from travelling overseas since it does not have to give any reason under the Immigration Act?

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.

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