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SUARAM: Travel Ban! What is the Government’s message to the World?

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) is extremely concerned on the travel ban imposed on Opposition MPs Tony Pua and Rafizi Ramli and The Edge Media Group owner Datuk Tong Kooi Ong, by the Immigration Department without clear explanation or prior notification. SUARAM urges the Immigration Department to provide a fair and valid explanation over the ban and lift the ban immediately shall they fail to do so.

Pua who has been critical of the government investment project 1MDB, was stopped by the Immigration officer from boarding a flight to Yogyakarta, Indonesia at KLIA2 on 22 July 2015. Shortly after, Rafizi Ramli and Datuk Tong Kooi Ong have also been blacklisted by the immigration department. No explanation has been given following the incident and failure of doing so has constituted breach of basic right.

If voicing out the corruption act and demanding free and fair investigation will land you a travel ban, what is the message the Malaysian government wants to convey to Malaysian and to the world?

This arbitrary decision is clearly a politically motivated move and yet again another attempt by the ruling government to silent and punish those that are critical towards the recent 1MDB saga. This is utterly unnecessary and will only cause even greater public discontent towards the government that has lost popular votes in the last General Election 2013.

Over the years, Malaysians have witnessed a significant and disheartening deterioration in human rights and a reverse of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s electoral reform agenda. Among others, the major crackdown against dissent with the Sedition Act, the turn-about of Sedition Act, passage of Prevention of Terrorism Bill, the conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, mass crackdown against peaceful assembly, continuous unaccountability by the police force, allegation of corruption by the Prime Minister and others. The series of crackdown, along with the recent travel ban, has again epitomized the democratic shortcomings of the ruling government. This is also an indication of how the government is willing to sacrifice the basic rights and protection of its citizen for its own narrow and sectarian political interests.

SUARAM hereby calls on the Immigration Department to lift the ban immediately. We would also like to remind the authorities to uphold our personal liberty as guaranteed under the Federal Constitution, to uphold the fundamental spirit of our democratic society and to be accountable to the rakyat of Malaysia.

 

Released by,

Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)