The Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said that the issuance of a passport is a privilege and not a right.
Nur Jazlan’s argument is flawed, for the right to free travel (which includes the right to a passport and to travel abroad) is a fundamental human right recognized by universal human rights declarations, whether Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or Article 10 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Nobody claims that such a human right is absolute, as it is limited like all other human rights under certain circumstances, but the government must act bona fide, fairly, honestly and honorably and not guilty of arbitrary abuses or excesses of power.
The ban on Bersih Chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah from travelling to South Korea to receive the Gwangju Prize on Human Rights Award and on DAP National Publicity Secretary, MP for PJ Utara and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) member, Tony Pua from travelling overseas are clear examples of such abuses of power and egregious violation of human rights in Malaysia.
This a major regression of human rights in Malaysia, as it marks a lowering of human rights standards which had never been contemplated or practiced by the five previous Prime Ministers of Malaysia – Tunku Abdul Rahman, Razak, Hussein Onn, Mahathir and Abdullah.
Banning citizens from leaving the country to travel freely abroad as been one of the hallmarks of authoritarian or autocratic regimes, especially communist countries and closed societies – in contrast to open, democratic societies.
Why is Malaysia setting new standards for violating human rights instead of establishing new milestones to protect and promote human rights?
Violating the human rights of Malaysians to travel freely overseas represents a new dark age for Malaysia and must be opposed by all freedom and justice-loving Malaysians.
It should be the top item of the agenda in tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting.
Malaysians would want to know whether there will be any Minister who will resign on a matter of principle tomorrow if the Cabinet is not prepared to take a policy decision not to emulate communist countries and closed societies by countermanding the arbitrary and undemocratic ban on Maria Chin and Tony Pua from free travel overseas?