Arbitrary travel bans without legal basis, Malaysian Bar tells Putrajaya

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru said the government had no general discretionary power to restrict a citizen’s right to travel in and out of Malaysia. — File pic

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru said the government had no general discretionary power to restrict a citizen’s right to travel in and out of Malaysia. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — The government’s claimed power to arbitrarily restrict the travels of any Malaysian is a “myth”, said the Malaysian Bar today.

Disputing Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed who asserted such powers, Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru said authorities were only empowered to enforce travel bans in limited scenarios such as bankruptcies and tax defaults.

“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,” he said in a statement today.

The head of the peninsular professional legal body said the Immigration Act 1959/63 does not contain an expressed provision to bar travel.

Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah was prohibited last Sunday from flying to South Korea to accept a human rights award on behalf of the electoral reform group. Read more

Indira Gandhi wins leave to challenge children’s unilateral conversion

Source: The Malay Mail Online

M. Indira Gandhi is pictured at the Court of Appeal, Putrajaya, December 30, 2015. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

M. Indira Gandhi is pictured at the Court of Appeal, Putrajaya, December 30, 2015. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

PUTRAJAYA, May 19 — The Federal Court today allowed Hindu mother M. Indira Gandhi to go ahead with her challenge against the validity of the unilateral conversion of her three children by her Muslim convert ex-husband.

The Federal Court gave its order after senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan said the federal government was not objecting to two of the eight questions of law previously posed by Indira.

“Application is allowed in terms of question one, five and the additional question submitted,” Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin said.

The two other judges on today’s panel are Tan Sri Abu Samah Nordin and Datuk Aziah Ali.

Today’s decision means the Federal Court will consider three questions of law in its hearing of Indira’s appeal. Read more

Travel ban step in wrong direction, says IDEAS

Source: The Edge Markets

Pic taken from The Star Online

Pic taken from The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR (May 18): The move to enforce travel bans on those who criticise the Malaysian government is a step in the wrong direction, according to Institute for Democracy and Economic Affair’s (IDEAS).

In a statement today commenting on a report quoting the Immigration Director-General who confirmed the existence of such provisions and stated passports were a privilege and not a right, IDEAS chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan said such arbitrary travel bans should not be happening in a country like Malaysia, especially if the Government claims to be progressive and democratic.

He said the freedom of movement which includes the right to travel, is a universal human right.

“The United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 which the Malaysian government has claimed to adopt and uphold, specifies that everyone has the right to leave the country and to return.

“This rule is also against fundamental democratic principles which require that the people of a country be able to express not only support for the government, but also to criticize its policies and actions without fear of recrimination or reprisals,” said Wan Saiful.

He stressed that the government should bear this in mind, particularly since it is making a bid for another term on the UN Human Rights Council.     Read more

Penang DAP MP acquitted of sedition

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Sedition Act 1948

Sedition Act 1948

GEORGE TOWN, May 19 ― The Sessions Court today acquitted and discharged Tanjung MP Ng Wei Aik of a sedition charge over an article he had written regarding the alleged re-emergence of the reformation movement.

Sessions Court judge Ibrahim Osman made the decision after finding that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case on two main points.

“The prosecution has failed to present the original seditious document the accused is charged with writing,” he said.

Secondly, the judge said the prosecution had also failed to prove that the article contained seditious words as there were two translated versions of the piece written in Chinese.

He then ordered for Ng to be discharged and acquitted of the charge.

Ng, who was represented by Gobind Singh Deo and RSN Rayer, was charged with sedition over an article he had written, titled “Reformasi bermula lagi (Reformation re-emerges)” in a Chinese daily last year. Read more

No legal provision for arbitrary travel bans, lawyers say

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Pic taken from The Star Online

Pic taken from The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 ― The law does not expressly allow the government to restrict Malaysians’ travel without reason, legal experts contended after a deputy minister said Putrajaya was not obliged to justify such bans.

Conceding to Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed who said no law compelled authorities to explain these restrictions, they countered by highlighting that legislation was also silent on powers to arbitrarily bar Malaysians from leaving the country.

“There’s no specific powers in the Immigration Act which says they can bar anyone from going without reason. It is incumbent upon you (the government) to justify why,” the Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) executive director Eric Paulsen told Malay Mail Onlinewhen contacted.

Paulsen said vague laws did not mean Malaysians lacked rights or their rights were not violated, arguing that travel bans without reason or even a valid reason could be an unconstitutional restriction of their liberties.

He said travel restrictions prompted by bankruptcy or the planned commission of terrorism may possibly be justified.

“But no one is so arrogant to say ‘ We are not going to give any reasons”. That cannot be the position in law because you must at least tell me why I’m being barred from going overseas,” he said, stressing the need for natural justice where Malaysians are allowed to answer allegations against them.

Paulsen cautioned, however, that Malaysians who attempt to challenge the constitutionality of travel bans imposed on them would face an uphill challenge, noting that judges appear to be reluctant to interfere in the daily running and decision-making process of the Executive. Read more

Muslim NGO asserts unilateral conversions of children unjust, against Islam

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Datuk Thasleem Mohd Ibrahim asserts that unilateral conversion of children to Islam is against one of the key principles of the religion, justice, and is therefore ‘haram’ or forbidden. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

Datuk Thasleem Mohd Ibrahim asserts that unilateral conversion of children to Islam is against one of the key principles of the religion, justice, and is therefore ‘haram’ or forbidden. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 ― The high-profile case of Hindu mother Indira Gandhi’s long-drawn out court battle over her three children converted to Islam by their father without her knowledge or permission has gained her sympathy over the past seven years.

Some of the support has come from unexpected sources, like Muslim non-governmental organisation Jihad for Justice.

Its chairman Datuk Thasleem Mohd Ibrahim asserts that unilateral conversion of children to Islam is against one of the key principles of the religion, justice, and is therefore “haram” or forbidden.

“I’ve categorically told the Perak Islamic Religious Department that the unilateral conversion of the kids is haram because it’s an injustice,” he told Malay Mail Online in a recent interview.

Thasleem has been a vocal supporter of Indira’s legal right to seek the reversal of her three children’s 2009 unilateral conversion, which had been granted by the High Court in 2010 but cancelled by the Court of Appeal last year. Read more

Why Indira Gandhi’s bid to reverse her children’s conversion matters

Source: The Malay Mail Online

M. Indira Gandhi (second left) is seeking finality over the religious status of her three children who were covertly converted to Islam by her Muslim ex-husband in 2009 without their knowledge. ― Picture by Yiswaree Palansamy

M. Indira Gandhi (second left) is seeking finality over the religious status of her three children who were covertly converted to Islam by her Muslim ex-husband in 2009 without their knowledge. ― Picture by Yiswaree Palansamy

KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 ― Hindu mother M. Indira Gandhi’s bid at the Federal Court today to annul her children’s unilateral conversions is one woman’s ordeal that will have far-reaching effects on Malaysians in a similar dilemma.

In and out of courts for years, Indira is seeking finality over the religious status of her three children who were covertly converted to Islam by her Muslim ex-husband in 2009 without their knowledge or their presence.

“At last, finally once and for all, I can know the status of my children. It’s been dragging for too long,” the Ipoh-based kindergarten teacher told Malay Mail Online when contacted ahead of today’s hearing for leave to appeal. Read more