Ambiga Fails To Challenge Sarawak Deportation Order

Bersih 2.0 chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan today failed in her bid to challenge an order for her deportation order from Sarawak by the state immigration department last April during its polls.

This follows the Kuala Lumpur High Court's dismissal this morning of Ambiga's application for leave (permission) to initiate a judicial review proceeding over the order.

The decision was made by High Court (Appellate and Special Powers division) Justice Rohana Yusuf. She did not order costs.

Ambiga had named the director-general of the Immigration Department, Sarawak immigration Department and the Chief Minister as respondents in the action.

Justice Rohana, in allowing separate preliminary objections by the Sarawak government and the director-general of the Immigration Department, agreed that the director-general should not be a party in the action.

She also ruled that the chief minister (Abdul Taib Mahmud) (right) should not be a respondent as the rightful authority is the Sarawak state secretary and that the action should have been filed in Sarawak and not here.

Ambiga, as chairperson of the Bersih 2.0 coalition for clean and fair elections, had been actively promoting electoral reform when she was denied entry to Sarawak on April 15 to monitor the state polls.

The denial of entry accorded to Ambiga was issued by the Sarawak Immigration director.

On May 26, she sought an order to compel the Sarawak Immigration Department, Taib and another to allow her into Sarawak.

Ambiga likely to appeal
Ambiga, when contacted, expressed disappointment over the decision as this is merely a leave application and the threshhold for leave is so low.

“It is a missed opportunity for the court to consider the serious issue of abuse of power by the Sarawak state government in barring West Malaysians from entry without a reason given or any basis.

“I believe it was stated I should file in Sarawak. How do I do that effectively since I am barred and my counsel of choice will not be able to appear there?” she asked.

The Bersih chairperson and a recipient of the International Women of Courage Award said although the court decided the director-general should not be a party, Section 3(2) of the Immigration Act states that he (the director-general) “shall have the general supervision and direction of all matters relating to immigration throughout Malaysia" .

“This is why he was named as a party in the proceedings. One more thing. I am entitled to be present for my case in court and I cannot do that in Sarawak if I am barred,” she said, adding she is considering filing an appeal over the matter.

She was represented by counsel James Khong and Tommy Thomas, while senior federal counsel Azizah Nawawi appeared for the director-general, and she also mentioned on behalf of the Sarawak government and chief minister.

Ambiga was the fourth individual who was deported from Sarawak after activist Steven Ng and Bersih 2.0 steering committee members Wong Chin Huat and Haris Ibrahim.

She had requested the court to quash the deportation order because it was an abuse of her constitutional rights and it constituted an abuse of power.

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