For immediate release

Kuala Lumpur, 18 May 2016 – The move to enforce travel bans on those who criticize the Malaysian government is a step in the wrong direction. Commenting on the statement by the Immigration Director-General who confirmed the existence of such provisions and stated that passports were a privilege and not a right, the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affair’s (IDEAS) Chief Executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan said, “These types of arbitrary travel bans should not be happening in a country like Malaysia, especially if the Government claims to be progressive and democratic.”

“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,” added Wan Saiful. “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.”

“The government should bear this in mind, particularly since we are making a bid for another term on the UN Human Rights Council.”

“Some people will undoubtedly call the Government’s actions as increasingly authoritarian. And this anger is understandable because the travel ban is only going to create resentment among the rakyat towards the government, besides making Malaysia look bad at the international level,” highlighted Wan Saiful.

“In the current political climate we should find ways to turn our country more democratic and free, and not going in the opposite way. North Korea is one of the countries who have strict travel controls on all citizens and especially on those who are considered as dissidents. We shouldn’t be moving towards that direction.” he concluded.



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IDEAS is Malaysia’s first think-tank dedicated to promoting market-based solutions to public policy challenges. We are an independent not-for-profit organisation. As a cross-partisan think tank, we work across the political spectrum. Our purpose is to advance market-based principles, and we are not bound by party politics, race or religion. Our mission is to improve the level of understanding and acceptance of public policies based on the principles of rule of law, limited government, free markets and free individuals. For more information, please visit

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