05/18/2016, 18.03
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Government imposing travel ban on critics

The ban is meant to protect the state’s reputation. A Bersih 2.0 movement leader is prevented from boarding a plane. For activists, Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is involved in a financial scandal, wants to silence his critics. Malaysia is “transforming itself to be police state,” says one opposition leader.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) – Malaysians may be banned from going abroad for three years for discrediting or ridiculing the government. Those who insult foreign countries could be banned from travelling for three years once they return. Immigration officials started applying the rule several months ago, The Star newspaper reported.

As activists and opposition politicians campaign oust him Prime Minister Najib Razak over his role in a financial scandal, he has tried to silence all his adversaries.

Sakib Kusmi, director general for the immigration department, confirmed the new legal provisions to the paper, adding that holding a Malaysian international passport was a privilege and not a right.

The most recent example came on Sunday when the chairman of the anti-corruption movement Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0), Maria Chin Abdullah, was barred from leaving for South Korea to receive a human rights award .

Bersih 2.0 wants Prime Minister Razak to resign over allegations that he embezzled US$ 681 million from the 1MDB state investment fund.

In July 2015, the Wall Street Journal revealed that millions of dollars had been deposited into a bank account controlled by the prime minister.

Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali ruled the funds were a donation from the Saudi royal family and Razak has consistently denied wrongdoing.

In August, Bersih 2.0 held a huge rally in Kuala Lumpur with at least 250,000 people calling for the PM’s resignation. In retaliation, the prime minister had the group’s and other websites blocked.

“The lack of such transparency and accountability only points to a government which is intent on abusing its powers to repress its critics and dissidents,” Tony Pua, an opposition lawmaker with the Democratic Action Party, said in a statement.

This, he added, “serves to prove the critics’ allegations” that Malaysia is “transforming itself to be police state.”

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