Court says not empowered to review Sabah ban on Ambiga

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Source: The Malay Mail Online

Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan was scheduled to attend the event along with the group’s co-patron Tan Sri Simon Sipaun and prominent Sabah politician Datuk Dr Jeffrey Gapari Kitingan. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KOTA KINABALU, Sept 28 — Sabah’s prohibition against entry by Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan will remain after the High Court here ruled that it cannot review the powers of the state’s Immigration Department.

Ambiga’s lawyer, James Tsai said that Judicial Commissioner Gabriel Gumis decided in chambers against hearing her application for a judicial review of the state’s decision to refuse her entry.

“In a brief oral judgment, he said that the matter of immigration was not reviewable based on the Sugumar case, which is the only time the law has been tested in court,” said Tsai, referring to Pihak Berkuasa Negeri Sabah v. Sugumar Balakrishnan case in 2002.

In the particular case, a High Court held that the ouster clause in the Immigration Act 1959/63 ‘s Section 59(a) meant the courts had no grounds for judicial review of the Sabah government’s decision.

Ambiga, in an immediate response to Malay Mail Online, said she will appeal the decision.

In January, Ambiga, who is a former Malaysian Bar president, applied for a review of the state’s refusal to allow her to enter, which it conveyed through a letter by the Director of Immigration, Sabah under the Immigration Act 1959/63 (Revised 1974) and the Immigration Regulations 1963.

She named Sabah Immigration director Noor Alam Khan Wahid Khan, Ghulam Jelani Khanizaman (in his capacity as state authority under Section 62 of the Immigration Act 1959/63), Chief Minister of Sabah (as state authority under section 62 of the Immigration Act 1959/63 as Minister responsible for Immigration) and also Moktar Yassin Ajim (in his capacity as the secretary of the Internal Affairs and Research for the state) as the four respondents.

Senior federal counsel Rahazlan Affandy represented the first respondent while the second, third and fourth respondents were represented by Hanafiah Mohd Kassim.

Tsai said that the hearing in chambers took about 30 minutes.

In March, Ambiga was granted leave by the High Court here for a judicial review of the government’s decision to prohibit her from entering Sabah on November 25 for a roadshow with pro-unity group Negara-Ku, of which she is a patron.

The human rights activist was scheduled to attend the event along with the group’s co-patron Tan Sri Simon Sipaun and prominent Sabah politician Datuk Dr Jeffrey Gapari Kitingan.

Sabah and Sarawak has jurisdiction over its immigration and has exercised its rights with the banning of several individuals including Ambiga, opposition lawmaker and Seputeh MP

Teresa Kok, PKR vice president Nurul Izzah Anwar and Hindraf Makkal Sakthi chairman P Waythamoorthy.

Last week, DAP publicity secretary Tony Pua was deported from Miri, Sarawak, six hours after he arrived and cleared Immigration. Sarawak Immigration Department officers picked him up as he was having lunch in Lutong, Miri and put on a flight back to Kuala Lumpur.