Wednesday, June 26

Passports of blogger, political activist revoked

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PUTRAJAYA: The Immigration Department has revoked the Malaysian international passports of controversial blogger Alvin Tan and political activist Ali Abdul Jalil with immediate effect, said director-general Datuk Mustafa Ibrahim.

He said an official letter would be sent to their addresses in Malaysia, the revocation gazetted and an announcement published in the newspapers, he told a news conference. Mustafa said the activities of the duo had caused discomfort in terms of safety among Malaysians.

“The revocation of the passports is a warning to all that the department will not hesitate to act against those who insult the courts, Islam and the rulers,” he said.

The revocation of Tan and Ali’s passports is the first such action by the Immigration Department. Alvin, 26, whose real name is Tan Jye Yee, and partner Vivian Lee, 25, were charged in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court under the Sedition Act for insulting Islam and the Ramadan holy month in a Facebook account in July 2013.

On Aug 22 this year, the court issued a warrant of arrest for Tan who had failed to attend the mention of the case. Tan is believed to have recently uploaded a statement on Facebook insulting the institution of the monarchy.

Ali has also been accused of insulting the institution of the monarchy on his Facebook account. He is also believed to be abroad. Mustafa said that if Tan and Ali wished to return to Malaysia, they would have to apply for an Emergency Certificate (EC) at any Malaysian mission to enter the country legally.

The EC is valid for a single trip and would have to be surrendered upon entering Malaysia, he added.

He explained that it was not a right to own a Malaysian international passport as it was only a privilege extended to Malaysians to enable them to travel abroad.

“The passport is not given to everyone. It is only a privilege that enables Malaysians to travel abroad.

“It is stated in the passport that it is the property of the Government of Malaysia and that it can be revoked at any time,” he said.

Mustafa said that without the passports, Tan and Ali could be assumed to be illegal immigrants, but it was up to the country where they were to accord them recognition. “They can be arrested abroad as illegal immigrants and repatriated to Malaysia. We will accept them as Malaysian citizens because their citizenship status has not been revoked,” he said.

Mustafa said Tan and Ali could make an appeal over the revocation of their passports and it would be considered on a ‘case by case basis’.

“If they are eligible, they will be given passports. If they are not and are blacklisted, we will inform them so,” he said. — Bernama