KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 — Putrajaya need not justify banning any citizen from leaving the country, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamad said today.
He was commenting on Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah who was stopped from exiting Malaysia last night while on her way to South Korea to receive the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights on behalf of the electoral reforms group.
“We have the power to bar anybody from leaving the country. I don’t need to answer the press. It’s the power given to the Immigration; we don’t need to explain why,” Nur Jazlan told reporters outside the Dewan Rakyat.
He added that it was not the Home Ministry that barred Chin from exiting, but the Immigration Department.
Nur Jazlan pointed out that the authority to restrict travel was listed in the Immigration Act, again insisting his ministry did not have the power to do so.
The Immigration Department is under the purview of the Home Ministry.
When asked whether the department received orders from his ministry, the deputy minister said he needed to check before answering.
The Pulai MP said, however, that Chin could request for the official reason behind her travel ban.
“She can enquire. No, we don’t have to tell,” Nur Jazlan said.
Chin was stopped by airport officials yesterday when she tried to board a flight to South Korea where she was due to accept the 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.