After being called up by the police for the second time this month, political artist and activist Fahmi Reza claims that the authorities have banned him from leaving the country.
In a tweet yesterday (22 April), Fahmi said he has been blacklisted in the Immigration Department’s system and claims that the instructions came from the Bukit Aman police headquarters.
“I was informed last night that my name has been blacklisted and I cannot leave the country.”
“I am blocked from renewing my passport. The Immigration Department said the block was ordered by the police in Bukit Aman/PDRM,” he wrote in the tweet.
The controversial artist said he is currently seeking clearance from the police for a trip to Europe next month where he will be involved in a theatre performance.
“I am now working on getting clearance from Bukit Aman before my scheduled flight. If a convicted criminal with 42 corruption charges against him can get clearance to leave the country, I hope Bukit Aman can give me the clearance too. No double standards,” he said.
It is believed that he is referring to the former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is facing a total of 42 criminal charges for money laundering, abuse of power and criminal breach of trust. In 2021, he had applied to the Courts to leave for Singapore and was approved.
Fahmi is currently being investigated under the Sedition Act 1948, and the Communications and Multimedia Commission Act 1998.
Last week, he was summoned by the police for his latest controversial artwork depicting an ape donned in a yellow outfit with emblems and a headdress.
Earlier on 10 February, he had claimed trial to one charge of uploading offensive material online with the intention to annoy or offend. The charge was over a caricature Fahmi allegedly uploaded on the social media platform that resembled former health minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.
He was charged under Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act, concerning the improper use of network facilities related to creating and spreading content deemed offensive or indecent in nature with the intent to annoy, abuse, or harass a person.
Human rights groups have previously criticised the government for hauling Fahmi to court, labelling it as an act to curtail freedom of expression in the country.