DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang has reminded Malaysians that his party colleague Tony Pua was prevented from leaving the country at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) in 2015 for Yogyakarta, Indonesia, although his passport was valid until 2020.
“Why was MP Tony Pua’s passport impounded and he banned from overseas travel, while Najib (Abdul Razak) is allowed to travel abroad despite he being convicted?
“Yesterday, the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) demanded an explanation as to why the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) did not object to the former prime minister’s application for his travel document despite a corruption conviction and ongoing criminal trials and how the government would ensure Najib would not abscond.
“C4 has raised a legitimate public interest question which should be answered by the attorney-general himself if he believes and upholds the rule of law and the principles of good governance on transparency and accountability,” Lim said in a statement today.
Pua was barred from travelling to Yogjakarta on July 22, 2015, after then inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar informed the immigration director-general, via a letter dated July 15, 2015, that the DAP politician was being investigated under Section 124B of the Penal Code on an alleged activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy.
Travel bans were also imposed on then Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah and political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anuar Ul Haque, who is better known as Zunar.
‘Concern about flight risk’
Yesterday, C4 demanded an explanation as to why the AGC did not object to the former prime minister’s application for his travel document.
It also questioned how the government would ensure that Najib would not abscond.
“We urge the AGC and the prosecution team to explain to the public why there was no objection to Najib’s application for temporary custody of his passport.
“There are real reasons for concern about flight risk as he is appealing his conviction and continues to face more daunting charges in court – all related to 1MDB and its subsidiaries,” the NGO said in a statement.
C4 noted that “Najib’s allies”, 1MDB mastermind Low Taek Jho and former 1MDB CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, had already escaped from Malaysia.
Last month, the Inland Revenue Board issued Najib a bankruptcy notice for failing to pay RM1.69 billion in tax. The Pekan MP has since taken the case to court.
C4 also contrasted this to how Malaysians were once barred from leaving the country if they failed to repay their National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) loans.
“How is it that Najib, who owes the government such a hefty sum, is allowed to leave the country while PTPTN loan and income tax defaulters get blacklisted?
“While the blacklist for PTPTN loan defaulters has since been overturned, this still represents a gross iniquity in treatment.
“Double standards in the execution of the law will greatly affect the upholding of the rule of law,” C4 added.