Thursday, May 26, 2016

Maria - Arbitrary Travel Ban? No court order? No notice? Gross Violation of Rights?

When Rights Are Trampled - Some of Us Just Accept It... Tolerate It and Move on....BUT that is where the problem arises, for the Violator of the Rights becomes emboldened that he got away with it, and thereafter will more easily trample on other rights and more rights... That is why we have to not tolerate the violation of rights, be it against us or others...

...immigration authorities have also inexplicably refused to provide her with any written document and, in fact, any reason whatsoever for her travel ban, merely saying that it was on the “instructions of Putrajaya”...
Now, the Malaysian government, in my opinion, arbitrarily denied a Malaysian the right to travel overseas... so, what do we do about this? Nothing - well, then the next time it may be you...

Well, is the Malaysian government going to compensate her - reimburse her the cost of the flight ticket, and all that she had expended....

Well, is the Malaysian government going to say 'SORRY' because we did wrong?

Will we stop with 'words' and statements - or is it now time to take this matter to the courts and claim justice? I still do have faith in the Malaysian judiciary....and judges must realize they are not in the business of 'doing as the government wants' - but upholding the cause of justice without fear or favour. There may have been some judgments by some judges that may have gotten us worried enough to ask whether the 'Malaysian Judiciary may have lost their way...? But, we shall see..

There is, of course, a wider implication to Malaysia - how will it affect the foreign investors - well, if Malaysia can simply bar Maria from traveling abroad, what guarantee that the travel rights of others may also non be affected similarly in the future? 

The law must provide certainty and most importantly basic human rights should NEVER be arbitrarily denied  

We recollect the barring of access to Malaysian Insider - in that case, I am of the opinion that the Malaysian government had no legal authority to that...  but alas, those actions of the government were never challenged in court...

Press Release |  

Summary and Arbitrary Restriction of the Right to Travel is an Abuse of Authority 
The Malaysian Bar deplores the growing trend of the Federal and State Governments imposing travel bans on Malaysian citizens seeking to move within and without Malaysia. These appear to be done either by misconstruing existing legal provisions or, worse still, in the absence of any legal basis whatsoever

The recent ban imposed on Maria Chin Abdullah, the Chairperson of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (“BERSIH 2.0”), is a deeply troubling example. The immigration authorities prevented her from boarding her flight to South Korea at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on 15 May 2016. She was on her way to accept the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2016 on behalf of BERSIH 2.0. 

It has been reported that Maria Chin Abdullah had not been given any prior warning or notice by the immigration authorities that she had been barred from leaving the country. Indeed, it has also been reported that she had travelled overseas as recently as December 2015 without any hindrance. The immigration authorities have also inexplicably refused to provide her with any written document and, in fact, any reason whatsoever for her travel ban, merely saying that it was on the “instructions of Putrajaya”.[1] 

The Deputy Minister for Home Affairs I, Datuk Nur Jazlan bin Mohamed, was then quoted as saying that the Government has“… the power to bar anybody from leaving the country … It’s the power given to the Immigration; we don’t need to explain why.”[2] 

The Malaysian Bar respectfully disagrees with the Deputy Minister for Home Affairs I. There is no general discretionary power to restrict a citizen’s right to travel in and out of Malaysia. Unrestrained discretion in the hands of the Government is a myth. There is a limited power to restrict a citizen’s right to travel, but only under specific legislation such as Section 104 of the Income Tax Act 1967 and Section 38A(1) of the Bankruptcy Act 1967. There is no express provision to bar travel under the Immigration Act 1959/63.

Further, a travel ban violates the right to life or personal liberty that is guaranteed in Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution, which extends to the right to travel.[3] It is also untenable for the immigration authorities to restrict an individual’s right to travel without giving any written reasons. There is a duty to give reasons in law when a fundamental right is denied. The immigration authorities therefore have a legal obligation to provide the justification for imposing a travel ban on a particular individual. 

The failure to specify the basis for barring travel would imply that none in fact exists, and that the decision is simply a capricious exercise of discretion by the immigration authorities to restrict freedom of movement of selected persons. It gives rise to a perception of abuse of power. This and other incidents of travel bans being imposed will also invariably be viewed as a blatant attempt to intimidate and silence those who seek to exercise their freedom of movement and expression to expose wrongdoing within the corridors of power. 

In properly upholding the rule of law and administration of justice, there must be accountability and transparency in decision-making by law enforcement authorities. Power must not be wantonly accumulated and wrongfully exercised. It should not be forgotten that Parliament has approved amendments to the Sedition Act 1948 to allow for criticism of Government, which the Government has refused thus far to bring into force. Travel bans must not be used to perpetuate that which has, in principle, been abolished. 

The Malaysian Bar calls on the Malaysian Government to immediately rescind the overseas travel ban that the authorities have imposed on Maria Chin Abdullah and others, and to cease and desist from resorting to any illegitimate means of wrongfully silencing its critics. The Government must also take concrete measures to promote open and constructive criticism of itself by others, safeguard each citizen’s right to unimpeded freedom of movement and freedom of expression, and adhere to basic principles of the rule of law and natural justice. 

Steven Thiru
Malaysian Bar

19 May 2016

[1] “Maria Chin barred from leaving Malaysia at KLIA”, New Straits Times Online, 16 May 2016. ). 

[2] “Nur Jazlan says not obliged to explain Bersih chief’s travel ban”, Malay Mail Online, 16 May 2016.. 

[3] Lee Kwan Woh v Public Prosecutor [2009] 5 MLJ 301 at p.314.

Maria Chin may challenge travel ban in court

FMT Reporters
 | May 23, 2016
The civil rights activist has already begun preliminary discussions with Bersih's lawyers.


PETALING JAYA: Bersih 2.0 chief Maria Chin Abdullah is considering challenging her overseas travel ban in court, she said in an interview with the Southeast Asia Globe magazine.

“I’ve begun preliminary discussions with our lawyers,” the civil rights activist said in the interview published today.

In the interview, Chin said the government’s move to bar her from travelling overseas was “politically motivated” and an infringement on her personal liberty and freedom of movement.
Besides calling Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed “arrogant” for his response to her questioning the travel ban, Chin also opined that the ban showed the government’s desperation to hold on to power.

Chin was recently stopped from flying to South Korea to accept a human rights award on behalf of Bersih 2.0.- FMT News, 23/5/2016

Maria Chin mulls legal action over travel ban

Monday May 23, 2016
03:33 PM GMT+8

KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 — Bersih 2.0 head Maria Chin Abdullah said she is considering challenging in court the government prohibition against her from travelling abroad.

“I’ve [begun] preliminary discussions with our lawyers,” the electoral reform activist told magazine Southeast Asia Globe in an interview published today.

Chin was recently stopped at the airport from flying to South Korea to accept a human rights award on behalf of Bersih 2.0.

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru said the government’s purported power to impose arbitrary travel restrictions against Malaysians was a “myth”, insisting that travel bans could only be enforced in limited scenarios like bankruptcies or tax defaults.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, however, claimed that travel restrictions can be imposed on grounds of national security and against Malaysians who violate the Federal Constitution.


Hakimi Abdul Jabar said...

The commentaries are outstanding and highly laudable.

When a chimpanzee tramples on your rights and it is allowed, baboons and gorillas will follow suit.

Chimpanzees are known to voraciously hunt red colobus monkeys.

Euphemistically, enough said!

Hakimi Abdul Jabar said...

For the record, I'm 110% in full support of the Bar Council.

Let's see more active positions and outstanding actions from them.

Hakimi Abdul Jabar said...


My light green folder and light blue legal professional diary that were deliberately, intentionally, criminally stolen & deprived definitely included privilege documents and communications duly protected under s. 126 of the Evidence Act of 1950 etc.

Hakimi Abdul Jabar said...


The commission of these unmitigable criminal offences happened in 2010.

Hakimi bin Abdul Jabar