PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court today ruled that the Penang government is not empowered under the law to set up the voluntary patrol group known as the Voluntary Patrol Scheme or PPS.
“The state government in its arguments relied on Section 9 and Paragraph 101(v) of the Local Government Act in setting up PPS, but this was not supported by fact,” said Chief Judge of Malaya Zaharah Ibrahim.
“An association such as PPS cannot possibly be constituted under the Local Government Act.”
Other judges in the panel were Court of Appeal president Ahmad Maarop and Federal Court judges Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin and Ramly Ali.
The fifth member, former chief justice Raus Sharif, has resigned from his position.
The Penang government set up PPS in 2011 to help with voluntary work and fight crime in neighbourhoods. The group had over 9,000 members.
The court today added that then-home minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s move to declare PPS illegal was not substantiated.
“He claimed that PPS was used for activities that were prejudicial to public order.
“We find that this was an unreasonable reason to exercise his discretion,” Zaharah said.
Penang Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh, who was present in court for the decision, told reporters later that the Penang government respects the Federal Court ruling.
Lawyer Alan Gomez represented the state government while senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan appeared for the home ministry.
In 2017, Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, who was a Court of Appeal judge at the time, ruled in favour of the Penang government in its appeal against the home ministry’s decision to ban PPS in 2014.
The lower court said the Penang government was exercising its powers in the state list under the Federal Constitution.
Tengku Maimun, in her judgment, said the court found no evidence that PPS was a threat to public order.
PPS was declared illegal by the home minister in 2014, following a declaration by the Registrar of Societies that it was an “unregistered” body.
The police also arrested 158 PPS members in a march-past during the 2014 state-level Merdeka parade.