Pakatan trio file legal challenge against emergency

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Three Pakatan Harapan (PH) lawmakers have filed a suit against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to challenge the suspension of Parliament and state assemblies during the emergency period.

Yusof Mat Isa

The suit was filed yesterday by Pulai MP and Simpang Jeram assemblyman Salahuddin Ayub (Amanah), Sg Petani MP and Gurun Assemblyman Johari Abdul (PKR) and Tebing Tinggi assemblyman Abdul Aziz Bari (DAP), in their personal capacity.

Their legal challenge comes just after opposition leader and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim had initiated a judicial review challenging the government’s advice to the king in the lead-up to his majesty declaring a state of emergency.

Bernama

The trio’s lawsuit, however, covers a wider scope. They are also challenging the Muhyiddin government’s suspension of all state legislative bodies during the Emergency, instead of just challenging Parliament’s suspension during the Emergency.

They also want the courts to order the prime minister and the government to present the Emergency declaration and an Emergency law or ordinance in Parliament to be scrutinised by lawmakers.

In filing their application for leave for judicial review at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, the three lawmakers said the move by Muhyiddin to suspend Parliament and all state legislative assemblies to be unconstitutional, hence wanting the court to review the proclamation of emergency made early this month.

“This application is to enable clauses 11,14 and 15 of the Emergency Ordinance, which are said to be unconstitutional to be reviewed by the court.

“This application is also to enable the court to review the powers of the prime minister and the cabinet as well as the menteri besar/chief minister and state excos who are said not to be held accountable to Parliament and state legislative assemblies,” they said in a statement.

The suit was filed through Chooi & Company + Cheang & Ariff (CCA Law).

The trio said that their legal team also includes Gurdial Singh Nijar and Razlan Hadri.

Although the three lawmakers are from the three political parties that make up PH, it is understood that their lawsuit was not filed on behalf of the Opposition coalition, but in their individual capacity as federal and state lawmakers.

As of now, there are currently four lawsuits in the courts in relation to the Emergency, Emergency Ordinance and the Federal Constitution, but all with slightly different focuses or approaches.

Politician Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan’s January 18 lawsuit filed against Muhyiddin and the Malaysian government focuses on asking the courts to decide whether a prime minister who no longer has the majority support of MPs in the Dewan Rakyat can still advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to proclaim an Emergency, or whether such a prime minister can suspend Parliament sittings.

Separately, lawyer Syed Iskandar Syed Jaafar had in October 2020 filed a lawsuit against the Malaysian government to ask the court to decide on two constitutional matters, namely whether the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has unfettered discretion to not declare an Emergency despite the advice of the prime minister or Cabinet, and whether the 1981 law that added in the provision to block the courts’ review of Emergency laws is against the Federal Constitution’s basic structure.

Unlike the three other lawsuits, Syed Iskandar’s lawsuit was filed after the Agong had in October 2020 refused the prime minister’s request for an Emergency to be declared. Several individuals, including Langkawi MP Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, have since applied to the courts to be allowed to join Syed Iskandar’s lawsuit.

The Emergency Ordinance came into force on January 11 and will remain so until August 1.

The government had defended the emergency, saying that it was needed to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.