KUALA LUMPUR: Politicians and activists who are "vocal" should check their travel status with the Immigration Department before they make any trips, says the Home Ministry.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamad (pic) said people, especially politicians, should not wait for notification from the Immigration Department, but should check their status on their own initiative instead.
"With regards to Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin, she should have checked with Immigration if she still was barred from leaving the country or not. Don't just wait, check with Immigration," he said at the Parliament lobby Wednesday.
He added that not many Malaysians have been barred from leaving the country for insulting or defaming the country.
Asked how the Government decided if a statement was defamatory to the country, Nur Jazlan said it was based on the discretion of the Immigration Department Director-General (D-G).
"If you think the statements of an individual, like Alvin Tan on his Facebook postings and insults on religion and such, if we feel that is considered as insulting the country, then we can take action," he said.
Nur Jazlan said the yardstick for the decision depended on the reaction from the general public.
"It is about what is being said about some people. So we get reactions from the public," he said.
"All I am saying is, the power to go in and out of the country is at the discretion (of D-G) and he also issues the passport – which is actually a privilege, not a right.
"So they carry out their duties with the interest of Malaysia in mind," he said, adding that authorities looked out for those who deliberately insult the country.
He said the cases often differ and hence why the discretion lay with the D-G.
"Some people do things in their individual capacity. It doesn't affect people directly but it may have affected the country's image.
"Some people do things with the deliberate intention to bring down the country's image and reputation.
"So we look at those people who collectively do harmful things to the country and take action," he said.
On Sunday, Chin learned she was barred from leaving the country when she was about to fly off to South Korea to receive a human rights award.