Travel ban ‘shocking’, Pua to consider legal action

KUALA LUMPUR, JULY 22: After being barred from leaving the country, DAP lawmaker Tony Pua said he is “shocked” at the blatant abuse of power by the authorities, and will consider filing a suit against the government for preventing him from travelling.

“I am shocked because I was not informed nor called in for any investigations that would prevent me from leaving the country,” he told a packed press conference at the DAP HQ here.

(L-R) DAPSY chief Teo kok Seong, Liew, Pua and Ong.

(L-R) DAPSY chief Teo kok Seong, Liew, Pua and Ong.

He also said the ban is a gross violation on his right to travel.

Pua, who is Petaling Jaya Utara MP, was to board the 3.15pm flight to Yogyakarta, where he is scheduled to visit the arts scene there for the Penang Arts District Project. He was then booked to fly to Singapore on July 25 to attend a school reunion.

However, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA2), he was stopped by two officers at the Immigration counters and told that “orders came from above” to prevent him from leaving.

“The officers suggested I approach the securities division of the Home Ministry to appeal or request for permission to leave the country. I find the ban a clear abuse of power, and I can only speculate the reasons. I can only speculate it is because of my vehement criticisms against 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB),” he said.

Pua has been a fierce critic of the debt-ridden state fund since 2009.

“For the real reason, however, you would have to ask Zahid (Hamidi, who is Home Minister). As far as I am concerned I have absolutely not committed any crime, and this is a gross violation of my right to travel.

“I will be consulting my lawyers and I will be looking into filing a suit against the government for preventing me from leaving the country without due process,” he said, adding that he will be meeting lawyer and Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo tonight to discuss the matter.

Checks on the Immigration Department blacklist showed that Pua’s travel status is “Sila rujuk kepada Pejabat Imigresen terdekat” (Please refer to the nearest Immigration office), although it also says “Sah pada waktu dan tarikh semakan dibuat” (Valid at time and date of checking).

Meanwhile, DAP Parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang said the ban on Pua is “an outrage”.

“This is the first case of an MP who has been barred from leaving country without knowing the offences, and we want to know who is responsible for this decision. However, it has undoubtedly raised the signal on the 1MDB scandal which is the biggest financial scandal the country has ever seen,” he said.

Calling the BN government one which is “tottering on its last legs”, Lim said an explanation must be given as to why Pua has been barred from travelling overseas.

DAP Political Education Director Liew Chin Tong asked is this ban on Pua is the “precursor of a crackdown” especially in light of what Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar claims is a plot to topple the government.

“The IGP is answerable as to what he meant by a ‘conspiracy theory’ and who are the people he is mentioning,” Liew said.

In a similar vein, Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming questioned the purpose of barring Pua from travelling when those implicated in the 1MDB scandal directly, such as former CEO Shahrol Halim, are not also banned.

After news broke that Pua was on the Immigration Department ‘blacklist’, PKR secretary general and equally-as-vocal critic of 1MDB Rafizi Ramli issued a statement saying that he too, had the same travel status as Pua.

Malaysiakini also reported that a travel ban has been imposed on The Edge Media Group’s owner Tong Kooi Ong as well.

The company, through its publications The Edge Financial Daily and The Edge Weekly, had covered the scandal extensively since 2009, and rumours have spread that it will face a shutdown from the Home Ministry, which controls the printing licenses of all media in the country.

– The Rocket

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