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Sabah travel ban: Ambiga loses bid to proceed with appeal
Published on: Thursday, September 21, 2017

Putra Jaya: Former Malaysian Bar President Datuk S. Ambiga loses her bid to obtain the green light from the Federal Court to appeal over the Sabah State Immigration Department's decision to ban her from entering Sabah in November 2014.

Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, chairing the Federal Court three-man bench, unanimously dismissed Ambiga's application for leave to proceed with her appeal against the travel ban decision.

Federal Court judges Tan Sri Abu Samah Nordin and Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed were the other two judges.

Justice Ahmad held that Ambiga could not be given leave to appeal as she failed to fulfil the threshold requirements under section 96 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964.

He said the Federal Court's decision in the case of Sugumar Balakrishnan v Pihak Berkuasa Negeri Sabah in 2002 was still good law.

In that case, the Federal Court applied Section 59 (A) of the Immigration Act 1959 which states the state authority's decision was non-justiciable and not subjected to judicial review except on grounds of procedural non-compliance.

Senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan submitted that it was not for the court to decide on matters concerning the powers of the Director of the Sabah Immigration Department by virtue of Section 59 (A).

Sabah State Counsel Hanafiah Kassim said the immigration power for the Borneo states was unique and granted under a special provision when Malaysia was formed.

Ambiga, through her lawyer Dr Gurdial Singh Nijar, sought leave to appeal for the Federal Court to decide on issues in respect of the ambit of the exercise of discretion by the director of the Sabah Immigration to deny entry of a person to Sabah.

Gurdial said urged the Federal Court to review the decision in Sugumar Balakrishnan v Pihak Berkuasa Negeri Sabah.

Ambiga, 61, applied for a judicial review application to quash the state's refusal to allow her to enter Sabah on Nov 25, 2014 for a roadshow with pro-unity group Negara-Ku, of which she is a patron.

She named the Director of Sabah Immigration Noor Alam Khan A. Wahid Khan, Ghulam Jelani Khanizaman in his capacity as a state authority, Sabah Chief Minister and Datuk Moktar Yassin Ajam in his capacity as secretary of the Internal Affairs and Research Division in the Chief Minister's Department.

Ambiga lost her case at the High Court and Appellate Court in Kota Kinabalu.

Outside the court, Gurdial Singh told reporters that the court's decision affirmed that the Sabah and Sarawak immigration authorities have absolute and unfettered discretion to determine who could enter the states.

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