Zunar given leave to challenge travel ban

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KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today gave cartoonist-activist Zunar the green light to challenge the Immigration Department’s move to ban him from flying abroad.

Zunar’s lawyer, N Surendran, told reporters this after meeting judge Justice Mohd Zaki Abd Wahab in chambers.

“The court allowed Zunar leave to initiate a judicial review over his travel ban,” he said.

Senior federal counsel Mohamad Rizal Fadzil, representing the Immigration Department director-general, home minister and the government in the legal action, also confirmed the details.

Rizal added that the court had found the application to obtain leave not vexatious and frivolous.

Zunar, whose real name is Zulkiflee SM Anwar Haque, said he was happy with the court’s decision.

“I hope that during the proper hearing it will be as good as today,” he added.

Cartoonist Zunar (right) and his lawyers N Surendran (middle) and Melissa Sasidaran (left) at the KL High Court, after the decision on Zunar's travel ban.
Cartoonist Zunar (right) and his lawyers N Surendran (middle) and Melissa Sasidaran (left) at the KL High Court, after the decision on Zunar’s travel ban.

He said the travel restriction imposed on him was bad for his work as a political cartoonist as he could not go abroad to attend art exhibitions and forums.

Zunar had filed a judicial review last year, seeking to quash the ban.

He also sought several court declarations that the ban violates his constitutional rights, that the respondents (Immigration Department director-general, home minister and government) have no powers to restrict him from travelling abroad, and that the decision was beyond their authority.

Zunar was barred from going to a forum in Singapore on October 17 last year.

He also faces nine sedition charges for allegedly insulting the judiciary over PKR de facto head Anwar Ibrahim’s ‘Sodomy 2’ conviction.

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

However, the High Court last year dismissed his judicial review, saying the director-general has the power to restrict a person from travelling abroad under the Immigration Act.

On April 11, the High Court ordered the government and police to pay RM18,000 in damages to Zunar over the seizure of his books and cartoon artwork seven years ago.

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