The ban on Bersih Chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah from travel overseas confirms the age-old maxim “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” and the need for constant vigilance as well as effective checks-and-balance against abuses and excesses of power.
But what has come as a surprise is that the former PAC Chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed should be afflicted by this human failing so quick and fast less than a year after his appointment as Deputy Home Minister when he said yesterday that the government need not have to give reasons for barring Maria Chin from leaving Malaysia.
The ban on Maria Chin from travelling overseas is wrong on three grounds.
(i) Undemocratic – raising the question whether the Najib government is committed to democratic principles and practices;
(ii) Violation of fundamental liberty on freedom of movement – an utterly retrogressive step which had never been done by anyone of the five Malaysian Prime Ministers of the past, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein Onn, Tun Mahathir and Tun Abdullah Badawi; and
(iii) Makes a complete mockery of Malaysia’s commitment to promote human rights, especially as Maria Chin was travelling to South Korea to receive the Gwangju Prize on Human Rights Award, an award previously bestowed upon Aung Sang Suu Kyi and Xanana Gusmao. Why have a Suhakam when the government is prepared to so blatantly abuse human rights in Malaysia?
Maria Chin is the second Malaysian personality to be barred from travelling overseas – the first was the DAP National Publicity Secretary, MP for PJ Utara and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) member Tony Pua.
Pua had to go to court to compel the government to give the reason for his ban, that his travel rights were restricted allegedly because he was under police investigations for “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy” although he had so far been called in for questioning by the police only as a witness in police investigations.
By such logic, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should be banned from travelling overseas for his twin global financial scandals, the RM50-55 billion 1MDB and RM4.2 billion “donation” scandals, which are being investigated by at least eight separate countries, including the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) of the United States.
I call on the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi, to assume personal responsibility for the violation of Maria Chin and Tony Pua’s democratic and human rights in barring them from travelling overseas, tender a personal apology and to take immediate action to restore to Maria Chin and Tony Pua their fundamental democratic right to travel freely overseas.