Bar Council: Arbitrary Detention And Deportation Contrary To Natural Justice

The Malaysian Bar, and the public at large, are unable to fathom the cause for the recent detention and subsequent deportation of French lawyer William Bourdon.

The reason reportedly provided by the Immigration Department – that the lawyer had violated the conditions of his Social Visit Pass – is vague and wholly inadequate. This obvious imprecision hampers the visitor’s ability to answer the charges levelled against him.

The lack of specificity is antithetical to the principle of natural justice in administrative law, pursuant to which a clear and explicit basis for the deportation should have been furnished to the visitor, in order that he could have defended himself against any allegation.

As enunciated in the then-Supreme Court case of J P Berthelson v Director General of Immigration, Malaysia & Ors [1987] 1 MLJ 134, the rules of natural justice require that a person who will be affected by an administrative body’s decision be afforded an opportunity to be heard.  The affected person possesses a legitimate expectation to defend himself or herself, as it would be unfair to condemn anyone, or to deprive anyone of a right, without hearing what he or she has to say.

The veil surrounding this matter merely cements, in the mind of the public, the perception that the French lawyer’s deportation may have arisen as a result of the talk he had given in Penang the previous evening, relating to alleged corruption in the Malaysian Government’s purchase of submarines from a French company.

The Malaysian Bar calls on the Government to justify publicly its grounds for deporting the French lawyer, and to cease such arbitrary detention and deportation. This incident is another negative mark on the Government’s record on rights and fundamental liberties, which on this occasion involves a foreigner.

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