Appeals Court Dismisses Maria Chin’s Appeal Over Travel Ban



PUTRAJAYA, May 25 – The Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal by Petaling Jaya Member of Parliament Maria Chin Abdullah over her legal challenge on her travel ban on grounds that the matter was academic.

“We are of the view the matter has long been academic,” said Justice Datuk Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid who chaired the three-man panel. She said there was no travesty of justice and subsequently dismissed the appeal with no order as to costs. Presiding with her were Puan Sri Zaleha Yusof and Datuk Yaacob Md Sam. 

Maria Chin, the former Bersih 2.0 chairman, filed a judicial review to challenge the Immigration Department director-general’s decision to bar her from travelling to South Korea on May 15, 2016 to receive an award for Bersih 2.0. However, the travel ban was lifted on May 17, 2016, two days after she was denied entry. She lost her case at the High Court which was dismissed on May 18, last year.

High Court judge Nik Hasmat Nik Mohamad in her ruling held that Maria’s application had become academic since the ban had been lifted and the decisions of the Immigration Department director-general and Home Minister in imposing travel bans were not reviewable as stipulated under Section 59A of the Immigration Act.

Earlier, Maria’s counsel Datuk Dr Gurdial Singh submitted that although the travel ban on Maria was lifted, she pursued the appeal because she wanted the court to make a ruling in respect of the power of the Immigration Department director-general in imposing the travel ban.

Senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan representing the respondents – the Immigration Department director-general and the Home Minister, argued the appeal is rendered academic as the blacklisting has since been lifted. He said it would be hypothetical to decide on the powers of the director-general.

Speaking to reporters, Gurdial Singh said following the decision, the court has given an unfettered discretion to the director-general to decide on the right to travel. Maria told reporters that she would discuss with her counsel on whether to bring the matter up to the Federal Court. — Bernama

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