“Before one accuses the AU being complicit with the Malaysian government in this visa refusal I and other in this block and elsewhere have repeatedly asked Harris to disclose if there is any element of truth in political interference for either government in the refusal decision. Harris knows the reasons and he has met with the Australian High Commission staff. Harris silence to put to rest this single important issue, political interference or otherwise, causes one to wonder what why would Harris damage his image as a dissenting political activists . It is time you vent your frustration at Harris for his strange silence, before your accuse the Australian Government. I have been asserting that this could have been the routine Administrative procedure embedded in the electronic visa processing system that prevents alleged offenders entering Australia on Character issue under Section 501 of the Australian Migration Act”. – commentator Robert Chelliah, to my “Refusal of my visa application : An update” post.
I’ve mulled over this comment the last 24 hours and I think Robert is right.
The Australian immigration authorities are constrained by privacy issues from responding to speculation in the media as to the reasons for the refusal.
It appears that if anyone is going to set the record straight, it will have to be me.
I had initially felt that going public with the reasons might jeopardise my prospects of having a meeting with officers at the High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.
That meeting last Friday leaves me in no doubt whatsoever that the speculations as to the reasons for the refusal of my application are unfounded.
It is for that reason that I share with you now the reasons, as made known to me, for my refused application.
A little background information first.
I submitted my application on 5th September.
I had to be in Sydney on 25th September to attend to a personal matter. This was my only purpose for my application for the visa.
I contacted my buddy, John, to let him know. We then discussed the possibility of my meeting up with the Malaysian diaspora in Sydney. I was most amenable to this, and to giving a talk if invited to.
Word of my intended visit got to Malaysians in Canberra and Melbourne.
“Would I head out there to give talks, too?”, I was asked.
“Yes”, I replied.
Word came back that ANU had agreed to sponsor my talk in Canberra.
How could I say no?
On 6th September, I received an email from an officer at the Australian High Commission requesting for further information relating to conditions of bail in relation to the sedition charge, and for an update on the outcome of the case management in court in relation to that charge on 13th September, 2013.
- Bail was set in the sum of RM5,000 with one surety. One Mr Arthur Toh is my bailor.
- The matter was set for case management on 13th September for the following purposes
- to enable the court to deliver its decision in respect of an application by the prosecution for a joinder of trial in respect of all 6 charged with sedition
- to enable the court to fix a trial date(s)
As it turn out, on that date in court, the judge dismissed the prosecution’s application for joinder of trials and fixed my charge for trial on 15th and 16th January, 2014.
I had instructed my solicitors to communicate this to the officer from the High Commission who had emailed me earlier.
On 13th September, 2013, my solicitors sent the following email :
Haris had been charged in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on 29-5-2013 under Section 4 (1) (b) of the Sedition Act for having allegedly uttering words with seditious tendencies during his speech at the Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Chinese Assembly Hall.
Haris has pleaded not guilty to the charge and intends to vigorously defend the same. To this end a team of counsels have volunteered to act for Haris which includes Gobind Singh Deo, Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, Sreekant Pillai and myself.
The matter is now fixed for trial on 15-01-2014 and 16-01-2014. Haris is on bail of RM5,000.00 with one surety. No restriction has been imposed by the Court on Haris’s freedom to travel.
If you require any clarification or further information please do not hesitate to contact me. Please also inform me if there is any need for me to formally write to the Australian High Commission in respect of the matters mentioned in this email.
On 19th September, whilst in Indonesia, I received an email enclosing 2 documents : the Notification of Refusal and the Decision Record.
The second document sets out the reasons for the refusal of my visa application.
I quote verbatim from the same now.
“The outstanding criminal charges concerning Mr Ibrahim in Malaysia, combined with his lack of employment in Malaysia, lead me to the finding that Mr Ibrahim does not genuinely intend to stay temporarily in Australia for the purpose of a visit only. In those circumstances, Mr Ibrahim lacks sufficient incentive to depart Australia in accordance with the terms of a subclass 600 visitor visa”.
There, you have it now.
I am submitting a fresh application next week.
If the visa is approved, and if there is no prohibition to accept speaking engagements there, I shall be happy to meet up with you good people Down Under.
I have prepared an addendum to attach to the application form to address the matter of my not being in gainful employment and my seeming lack of sufficient incentive to depart Australia.
On the first, this is what I have said :
By end 2010, I had become so disillusioned with our courts that I took the decision to cease legal practise and to focus my time on working with like-minded citizens to bring about a regime change in the country in the hope of ending the reign of a repressive and corrupt regime, seeing the institutions of state returned to the people, and ending the marginalisation and impoverishment of 40% of the population. I wish to add here that there is no impediment to my returning to legal practise if I so chose to…Upon taking the decision to cease legal practise and go into full time activism, I sold off my considerable law library and my home and fish, organic fruit and vegetable farm in Pahang, Malaysia. Details of that farm can be seen at http://fishfruitveg.wordpress.com/ The proceeds of both sales mentioned above, together with savings both here and overseas after 20 years of a fairly thriving legal practise, managed now in the context of a much changed lifestyle from one that I was previously accustomed to, has been, and is now, used to sustain my family and I.
No incentive to depart? This is all I can say :
Firstly, Malaysia is my home and at my age, I cannot see myself living out the rest of my days anywhere else.
My family are all in Malaysia. My children, both of whom are still young and still need the presence and guidance of their father, are still here and will not be accompanying me to Australia should I be given the visa to travel there. I would not abandon them.
My present work, to take back our nation from a thieving regime and to bring justice, long overdue, to 40% of our people who have been long deprived of educational and economic opportunities, work for which I have given up the comfort of my previous lifestyle, is not yet done. I will not abandon my people.
My message to the people, time and again, has been that we must not fear the present regime, and must be prepared to face whatever they throw at us. It behoves me, therefore, to ‘walk my own talk’. As such, I do not propose to run away from my pending criminal charge and, if convicted, I will stay to serve out whatever sentence is meted out.