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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Objection raised against Anwar’s legal bid against emergency


The courts have no power to hear opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's legal challenge against the validity of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s emergency advice, said the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC).

Senior federal counsel Ahmad Hanir Hanbali raised this objection during proceedings before the Kuala Lumpur High Court this afternoon.

The AGC is objecting to the PKR president’s judicial review leave application targeting Muhyiddin's advice for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to issue the current proclamation of emergency.

The Port Dickson MP’s legal challenge is among several similar ones initiated by, among others, former Umno leader Khairuddin Abu Hassan; three opposition lawmakers that include Amanah’s Salahuddin Ayub; and multiple non-governmental organisations (NGO) led by Bersih.

These legal bids target the advice given by Muhyiddin to the Agong to issue a proclamation for the current emergency, with the stated aim of combating the spread of Covid-19 in Malaysia.

The hearing before judge Mariana Yahya is in relation to Anwar's bid for leave to proceed with the judicial review.

When contacted after the proceedings, Hanir, who represents Muhyiddin in the matter, said that Articles 150(6) and 150(8) of the Federal Constitution oust the court from having jurisdiction to hear legal challenges related to the Agong's proclamation of emergency.

"The AGC objects to the applicant's (Anwar's) application (for leave to commence judicial review).

"Among the main reasons for objection is that this judicial review is prevented by Article 150(6) and 150(8) of the Federal Constitution.

"The court has fixed March 11 for parties to file submissions in reply," Hanir said.

He added that on that upcoming date, the court will fix a date to deliver a decision on Anwar's judicial review leave application.

When contacted, Anwar's counsel Harshaan Zamani said they counter-submitted before the judge that the provisions of Article 150(6) and (8) do not apply in situations involving the legality of a prime minister's advice to the Agong.

"We submitted that Article 150(6) and (8) do not cover the issue of the lawfulness of the PM's (Prime Minister's) advice, basically," he said.

The lawyer added that they would submit more on that legal point in further written submissions to be filed at the court on March 11.

Harshaan assisted Anwar's lead counsel Ramkarpal Singh during proceedings, while Hanir appeared alongside senior federal counsel S Narkunavathy.

In the judicial review leave application filed on Jan 25, Anwar sought a declaration that the decision of the Muhyiddin-led cabinet, to advise His Majesty to promulgate Section 14 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021, which had resulted in the suspension of Parliament, is unconstitutional, unlawful, has no effect and is ultra vires.

The PKR lawmaker seeks a declaration that Section 14 of the Emergency Ordinance is inconsistent with Article 150(3) and (5) of the Federal Constitution, and is therefore unconstitutional and invalid.

He is seeking a mandamus order to compel Muhyiddin and the government to advise the Agong to repeal the disputed section.

Anwar had also filed an application to refer four legal questions to the Federal Court relating to the same issue of the present emergency.

However, this application has yet to be heard by Mariana as she wished to hear and dispose of Anwar’s judicial review leave application first. - Mkini

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