— The Malaysian Insider
Feb 16, 2013
FEB 16 — According to Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, there is nothing political about denying entry to and expelling Australian Senator Nick Xenophon today.
That it was an immigration issue and done according to the law, he said.
But Immigration Director-General Datuk Alias Ahmad said Xenophon was barred entry under Section 8(3) of the Immigration Act as a “prohibited immigrant” because he called the Malaysian government “authoritarian” in handling the Bersih 3.0 rally for free and fair elections last April.
“He tarnished the image of the country,” Alias told The Malaysian Insider.
So, we stop people from entering the country because they say bad things about our government? That isn’t political? That is law?
You know what that is? That’s shameful. And it makes us look like fools and frustrates the government’s efforts to open up and show it has nothing to fear with greater democratisation.
Wasn’t it Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who sought to repeal security laws and press laws that hinder freedom of expression and restrict the movement of government critics?
Why do we have a Home Ministry that decides it can stop people from entering the country because they criticised its handling of a rally a year ago?
Why do we have such thin-skinned and shallow-thinking people in the Cabinet and the civil service? Why are there xenophobes in the government, one that wants to be progressive and transformative?
Every step forward taken by the Najib administration seems to be crippled into a half step backward by such actions like today’s barring of Xenophon from entering Malaysia.
It is like a perverse pleasure to shoot oneself in the foot just to prove you can still walk or hobble despite your injuries. The government now risks international criticism for the short-sighted move of barring Xenophon today for comments made last year.
Shutting the door on Xenophon will just prove that he is right about the Malaysian government being “authoritarian”. That is the greater tragedy of a government that wants to prove it runs a great democracy.