What’s up with the ‘Suspected List’?

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Except for grave or capital crimes involving capital punishment such as the life or death sentence, no Malaysian should be impeded from travelling in and out of this country, asserts Stephen Tan Ban Cheng.

The ‘Suspected List’ (NST, 7 November 2016) – those blacklisted from travelling abroad because they had defaulted on their loans – shows a colossal increase of more than 250,000 individuals from last year.

Of the 707,304 individuals barred from leaving the country, those with outstanding PTPTN (study) loans made up the bulk at 261,833. The number has increased more than four-fold from last year.

Those with outstanding payments to the Malaysian Insolvency Department made up the second highest group with 212,927 people, while the IRB ranked third, with 128,187 individuals barred from exiting.

No. of cases     Percentage

PTPTN loans     261,833           37.02%

Insolvency         212,927          30.10%

Tax defaulters   128,187          18.12%

Sub-total           602,947          85.24%

Crimes (?)          104,357         14.76%

Total                  707,304        100.00%

Just thinking aloud about this NST report: For many years now, Malaysians, who had gone through the hassle of buying air tickets, could be stopped from travelling on the basis of having unsettled student loans, going through insolvency and defaulting on their taxes.

No one has ever bothered to make any comment on the growth of this “industry,” the growth clearly shown by the reported figures. That seems to bolster the impression that, generally, we in the East usually bow to the wisdom of the authorities. We have always been seen as a lot more submissive than our Western counterparts.

Except for grave or capital crimes involving capital punishment such as the life or death sentence, no Malaysian should be impeded from travelling in and out of this country. Simply put, except for grave criminal offenders, travel in and out of the country is a basic human right that cannot be taken away from any Malaysian by any authority. That liberty is inalienable.

For that matter, this damper on travel has been practised for many years. If we in Malaysia have been right about this, the Western democracies would have emulated us.

That these Western democracies do not emulate us after all these years means that something is just not right. It could just be the principle they approve and adopt – just give all their compatriots “a fair go”. Or could it be because they respect themselves more and thereby respect their compatriots more? Or could it be they have consciously placed their citizenship on a higher footing than we in the East have?

It will of course be helpful and illuminating if someone in authority can give us the philosophical rationale behind our ostensibly anti-libertarian tendencies.

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