Constitution gives power to Penang to set up Voluntary Patrol Unit

tengku-maimun-ppsPETALING JAYA: The Voluntary Patrol Unit (PPS) set up by the Penang government six years ago is lawful under the Federal Constitution, the Court of Appeal said.

Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said pursuant to Article 80, the state government clearly had the power to issue executive orders in respect of matters under the State List.

“It cannot be denied that PPS was formed pursuant to the executive and administrative powers of the State Government to provide ‘local government services’ to the State,” she said in the written judgment now posted on the judicial website .

Tengku Maimun said local government fell under the State List and the decision of the state executive council was a policy decision well within the scope and responsibility of the State Government.

“We noted that even the respondents had no quarrel with the fact that PPS was established by the State Government to provide services to the State as evident from the 1st respondent’s (Home Minister) affidavit,” she said.

She said since the PPS was lawfully set up, any order which presupposed that it was a society under the Societies Act could not stand in law.

On March 28, a three-man bench chaired by Tengku Maimun allowed the state government’s appeal and reversed the findings of the High Court that the PPS was an unlawful society and the state had no right to be heard when the minister made an order.

The bench also ordered the home minister and the government to return all vests, seals, insignia arms, documents or other objects, irrespective of whether the logo or words belonged to PPS.

The Penang government filed a judicial review application in November 2015 for an order to quash the home minister’s declaration that PPS was being used for purposes prejudicial to public order.

It also sought a declaration from the court that PPS had been established legally under the Local Government Act and did not come under the Societies Act.

Tengku Maimun in her 24-page judgment said the bench found no evidence to show that the PPS was a threat to public order.

“There was absolutely nothing to show what happened between 2011 and 2014 which turned PPS from doing something lawful to doing something prejudicial to public order,” she said.

Tengku Maimun said during that period, the police and other government agencies were visibly engaged in various meetings and activities of PPS.

“Given the absence of any other evidence to show that PPS had carried out activities prejudicial to public order, we found the impugned order (of the minister) unreasonable and irrational,” she said.

She said the order was not made according to rules of reason and justice and was arbitrary and vague.

The PPS was formed by the opposition-led Penang government in 2011 to fight crime and help with voluntary work.

A controversy arose over its work when a 51-year-old man alleged that PPS members had attacked him.

The federal government later decided to clamp down on the PPS. It culminated in the arrest of 158 PPS members participating in the state-level Merdeka parade on Esplanade Road on Aug 31, 2014.