Civil society condemns ‘arbitrary’ travel ban against Bersih 2.0 chief

On Sunday, Maria Chin Abdullah was stopped by airport officials when she tried to board a flight to South Korea. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
On Sunday, Maria Chin Abdullah was stopped by airport officials when she tried to board a flight to South Korea. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 ― The National Human Rights Society (Hakam) denounced today the government’s travel ban against Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah.

The civil society said Putrajaya’s assertion that it need to provide any reason for banning Chin from leaving the country was a violation of her constitutional rights unless there is a justifiable reason to restrict freedom of movement.

“This is a dangerous exercise of power to ban a citizen’s right to travel without even attempting to offer any valid explanation.

“It is in flagrant violation of the constitutional rights of personal liberty, movement and equality,” Hakam secretary-general Robyn Choi said in a statement.

She pointed out that even a bankrupt whose passport is impounded can apply for the restriction to be lifted in certain situations.

Choi said Hakam is alarmed by the government’s arbitrary use of laws to “trample willy-nilly on fundamental constitutional rights” and demanded it stop.

On Sunday, Chin was stopped by airport officials when she tried to board a flight to South Korea where she was due to accept the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights award.

She said no explanation was given for the ban, and described the move as outrageous and a violation of her constitutional freedoms.

It was reported last month that Bersih 2.0 won the award for its efforts in pushing for electoral reform in Malaysia.

According to the Bersih 2.0 steering committee, the award was to commemorate the spirit of the democratic fight by the people in Gwangju on May 1980 when they stood up against the military regime in South Korea.

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