[2021] 3 MLRA 1

Federal Court, Putrajaya
Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat CJ, Rohana Yusuf PCA, Nallini Pathmanathan, Abdul Rahman Sebli, Hasnah Hashim, Mary Lim Thiam Suan, Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal FCJJ
[Civil Appeal No: 01(f)-5-03-2019(W)]
12 January 2021


Abdul Rahman Sebli FCJ (Majority Judgment):

The Facts

[1] The appellant was the chairperson of a non-Governmental organisation (NGO) known as "Bersih 2.0" and was a holder of a valid Malaysian passport. On 15 May 2016, after collecting her boarding pass at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport for a flight to South Korea, she was stopped by the immigration authorities and was told that there was a travel ban imposed on her and that she could not leave the country.

[2] No reason was given to the appellant for the travel ban, before or after the incident. The reason was only disclosed in the 1st respondent's affidavit filed in response to the present judicial review proceedings commenced by the appellant in the High Court on 28 July 2016.

[3] In gist, it was deposed to in the affidavit that on the 1st respondent's instruction, the appellant was blacklisted from leaving the country for a period of up to three years starting from 6 January 2016. The instruction was made pursuant to a circular titled 'Pekeliling Imigresen Malaysia Terhad Bil 3 Tahun 2015'. The ground for the blacklisting was that the appellant had disparaged the Government of Malaysia ("Memburukkan Kerajaan Malaysia") at different forums and illegal assemblies.

[4] The blacklisting and travel ban were however lifted by the respondents on 17 May 2016, ie two days after she was stopped at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

The Complaint

[5] According to the appellant, the facts as shown in the affidavit of the 1st respondent referred to events that had yet to occur when the travel ban was imposed. This, according to counsel, implies an admission that at the time the ban was imposed there was no real reason for its imposition and yet the respondents relied on s 59A of the Immigration Act 1959/63 ("the Immigration Act") to say that even where there are no real reasons to justify the ban, their decision must be accepted and condoned by the court regardless and this begs the question: to whom will the citizen then turn when there is a contestation between the executive and the citizenry?

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