KUALA LUMPUR: Political cartoonist Zunar wants to know when the travel ban imposed on him will be lifted, saying he is still in the dark over why it was enforced to begin with.
He said the ban established by the Immigration Department had affected his source of income as he was paid to speak at events outside Malaysia.
“Most of my work is overseas. I cannot conduct my exhibitions here because I would be arrested, and cannot sell my books as they are banned,” he said when making a complaint at the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) here.
Zunar, whose real name is Zulkiflee SM Anwar Haque, said he wanted Suhakam to intervene in the matter.
He said the government had infringed his rights as he was not informed why he was barred from travelling.
“Immigration officers only told me orally that I cannot travel based on the police’s ‘special orders’,” he said, adding that the ban was enforced on June 24.
Zunar was barred from going to Singapore for a forum on Oct 17 last year.
He compared his situation with that of individuals such as Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah and Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, who were similarly barred from travelling.
“They were banned, but now they are free to move around.
“When will I see the day that I can travel again?” he asked.
Maria was barred from travelling to South Korea last year, while Pua was prohibited from travelling to Indonesia in 2015.
Their restrictions were lifted last year.
Suhakam commissioner Lok Yim Pheng and officer Faiz Abd Rahman, who heard Zunar’s complaint, said the commission would look into the matter.
“This is a case different from other ones, and this ban cannot stay on forever,” Lok said.
Last month, Zunar failed to challenge his travel ban at the High Court as the court was bound by another travel ban ruling.
Trial judge Justice Azizah Nawawi said she had to adhere to the binding precedent in Pua’s case, who had also unsuccessfully challenged the decision of the Immigration Department director-general.
Zunar filed the application for judicial review last year, seeking to quash the ban.
He also sought several declarations, including that the ban violated his constitutional rights.
Zunar is currently facing nine sedition charges for allegedly insulting the judiciary on Anwar Ibrahim’s “Sodomy 2” conviction.