Court to decide next month Zunar’s bid to lift travel ban

ZunarKUALA LUMPUR: Cartoonist Zunar will know on April 14 if he is able to initiate a legal challenge against an Immigration Department ban prohibiting him from travelling abroad.

High Court judge Justice Mohd Zaki Abd Wahab fixed the date after hearing arguments in chambers from Zunar’s lawyer, N Surendran, and senior federal counsel Mohamad Rizal Fadzil who represented the Immigration Department, home minister and government.

Speaking to reporters outside the court, Surendran said Zunar, whose real name is Zulkifli SM Anwarul Haque, should be granted leave to question the validity of the travel ban.

“We told him (Justice Zaki) that the ban can be reviewed in court and the director-general has no absolute power to make the decision to bar,” he said.

He added that the Immigration Department had objected to the leave, saying the Immigration Act 1959/63 excluded any legal challenge in court over the director-general’s decision.

Zunar had filed a judicial review seeking to quash the travel ban in December last year.

The activist also sought several court declarations that the ban violates his constitutional rights, and that the respondents have no power to restrict him from travelling abroad.

He was barred from going to a forum in Singapore on Oct 17.

He also faces nine sedition charges for allegedly insulting the judiciary over former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s second sodomy conviction.

In a similar bid, Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua had challenged the Immigration Department in 2015 over the move to stop him from flying to Indonesia.

In July last year the High Court dismissed Pua’s judicial review, saying the director-general had the power to restrict a person from travelling abroad under the Immigration Act.

The immigration department however lifted the travel ban in October.