Facebook Twitter Google Plus Vimeo Youtube Feed Feedburner

ROS LBoard 1

Government can bar anyone from travelling abroad, Court of Appeal rules

 | July 5, 2017

Three-man bench also rules that Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua has no right to be heard and that the Immigration department director-general is not required to give any reason for imposing such a ban.

tony-pua_law_600PUTRAJAYA: In a decision that is sure to cause concern among human rights activists, the Court of Appeal today ruled that the right of Malaysian citizens to travel overseas is at the absolute discretion of the government.

Justice Idrus Harun, who delivered the unanimous decision of the court, said Article 5 of the Federal Constitution on the right to liberty excluded the right to travel abroad.

“The provision on the right to travel overseas is not expressly embodied in Article 5,” he said in dissmissing the appeal by Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua.

A three-man bench chaired by Mohd Zawawi Salleh, Kamardin Hashim and Idrus heard submissions from lawyers for Pua and the government on April 19.

Idrus said the issuance of passports to citizens to travel abroad was a privilege accorded by the government.

He said the term personal liberty in Article 5 in the Malaysian constitution had to be construed narrowly and was confined to the mounting of any challenge against the authorities for unlawful detention of a person.

Idrus said the court was mindful that it must be circumspect in interpreting the laws and constitutions of other jurisdictions in declaring the fundamental rights of citizens.

He said Pua, under Article 5 and the Immigration Act, had no right to be heard and the Immigration director-general had no duty to give reason to impose the travel ban.

“The appellant has failed to show any merit in his case and we have no reason to interfere in the findings of the High Court,” he said.

The bench, however, ordered no cost to be paid to the government as it is a public interest case.

Zawawi said he encouraged Pua to take up the matter to the Federal Court to determine the constitutional issues in the highest court of the land.

Pua’s lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said he would file a leave to appeal application within 30-days as there were serious questions of law that needed to be raised.

Pua dragged the authorities to court after he was prevented from leaving the country at the KL International Airport 2 on July 2, 2015.

The DAP national publicity chief was supposed to go to Yogyakarta that day using his passport, which was valid until April 23, 2020.

He claims the decision was ineffective under the law as it was a contradiction in terms of his legitimate right to travel abroad using his valid passport.

The High Court last year, in dismissing Pua’s judicial review, held that the travel ban on him was valid.

Last year, another Court of Appeal had also ruled that former Malaysian Bar president Ambiga Sreenevasan’s travel ban to Sabah was legal because Malaysia’s highest court had ruled that the judiciary could not inquire into why such a decision was made.



Readers are required to have a valid Facebook account to comment on this story. We welcome your opinions to allow a healthy debate. We want our readers to be responsible while commenting and to consider how their views could be received by others. Please be polite and do not use swear words or crude or sexual language or defamatory words. FMT also holds the right to remove comments that violate the letter or spirit of the general commenting rules.

The views expressed in the contents are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of FMT.