GEORGE TOWN, May 18 — The federal government must fully explain the reason for banning government critics from leaving the country, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today.
The DAP secretary-general condemned the latest policy announcement as disclosed by Immigration director-general Datuk Sakib Kusmi in a newspaper today, saying “only communist countries, dictatorships and countries without democracy” denied critical citizens from travelling abroad.
“Why was this not announced? Putrajaya must fully explain this. Was it approved by the Cabinet? We want to know is the home minister aware of this? We want the deputy prime minister to explain this,” he said during a break in the Penang legislative assembly here, referring to Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who holds both federal positions.
Lim who is also Bagan MP said if the government banned Malaysians from travel overseas for criticising the country, it meant they viewed citizens as being disloyal too, which he also denounced.
“Criticising the government is not an act of disloyalty to the country, just like anyone can criticise the Penang state government and it is not an act of disloyalty to Penang,” he said.
Citing the immigration director-general, The Star reported today that Malaysians who discredit the government can be barred from travel abroad for three years; similarly citizens found to have criticised the government overseas will be barred from leaving the country for three years upon their return.