Bersih Chairperson Maria Chin barred from leaving the country
Writer A Samad Said penned that Malaysian government barred Bersih’s Maria Chin Abdullah from leaving Malaysia because the country’s authorities love her too much to let her go.
However, if the intentions of barring Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria from leaving the country were to stop her from further expanding her works in human rights, it may have just backfired.
Known for her successes in organising some of Malaysia’s largest protest rallies (Bersih), Maria’s barring is not the first as she joins several other politicians and human rights’ activists who have also been barred from leaving the country.
Maria was supposed to fly from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to South Korea to receive the Gwanju Prize for Human Rights award on behalf of the polls watchdog she chairs.
And this apparently had hit a raw nerve with someone up there, opines an analyst.
Wong Chin Huat says barring Maria from leaving the country will only further support the fight for human rights in Malaysia.
“As the Malay saying goes, ‘berani kerana benar, takut kerana salah’ (to be brave for the truth, afraid because having done wrong), this reflects that Najib (Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak) is so afraid of Maria Chin and her Bersih works that he decided to bar her from leaving the country.
“If he is trying to stop her from pursuing her human rights works, he has backfired instead,” says Wong.
By stopping Maria from receiving the award, Najib has successfully placed Malaysia in the eyes of global human rights watch.
Human Rights Watch had recently highlighted that the freedom of expression and assembly in Malaysia are currently under attack.
The recent increase in use of laws that criminalise peaceful expression is a step backward for a country that had seemed to be making progress on the protection of rights.
In the NGO’s report on Malaysia’s deteriorating human rights’ standards, it also pointed out that Najib (who took office in 2009) pledged to “uphold civil liberties” and exhibit “regard for the fundamental rights of the people,” but the use of broadly worded criminal laws to silence critics and civil society activists has increased dramatically since the 2013 national elections.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PMS) politician S. Arutchelvan says that it it is an even greater embarrassment that the barring has happened to Maria.
“To me, this is violating the rights to freedom of movement. She is going to South Korea to receive an award for human rights works, and here her rights are being restricted.
“Why is there is a need to bar Maria from leaving the country? She has no criminal records, unlike previous individuals such as Sirul (Sirul Azhar Umar) who a convicted criminal, and yet he is allowed to leave the country,” says Arutchelvan.
Sirul was convicted for the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu