Bersatu gets leave to challenge freezing of accounts, Muhyiddin travel ban

KUALA LUMPUR — The High Court here today allowed Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia application for leave to commence judicial review proceedings to challenge the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) decision to freeze its bank accounts for investigation and the travel ban by the Immigration Department against its president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture).

Judge Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid ruled that the applicants have passed the threshold to commence judicial review proceedings and there are triable issues regarding the impugned freezing order and travel ban.

“These triable issues justify further argument by the parties at the substantive stage and cannot be obliterated by the court at this stage,” he said.

The judge also said Bersatu’s application to initiate judicial review was not frivolous and vexatious.

“I am of the view that the application is amenable to judicial review and accordingly the leave to commence judicial review is hereby allowed,” said Judge Ahmad Kamal.

Judge Ahmad Kamal, however, disallowed the party’s interim order application for the release of funds from Bersatu’s accounts as it would interfere with MACC’s investigation.

“At this stage, the granting of such interim orders or interim reliefs would amount to interference in the power of the MACC in exercising its power to make a variation order.

“Therefore, it is my considered opinion that the release of money which is or could be connected with the money laundering offences cannot be permitted,” he said.

He further said the release of money, if permitted, will diminish the frozen assets (the money in the bank account), as the purpose of the freezing order is to preserve the assets suspected of criminal activities.

“Permitting such release of money will frustrate the purpose of the freezing order which is yet to be determined in the criminal trials,” he said.

In the interim application, Bersatu had sought to withdraw RM1 million for the operation, management, salaries, costs, other expenses and purpose of the political activities of Bersatu.

It also sought the release of RM6 million from its accounts for the purpose of campaign activities in the upcoming six state elections and another RM1 million for necessary expenses.

On the issue of the travel ban, Judge Ahmad Kamal said subsequent upliftment of the travel ban is not academic as the court has to look into the travel ban as a whole and not in isolation.

“Besides, the travel ban also has an element of public interest to demand the court to look into the matter substantively as Muhyiddin, being the preceding Prime Minister of Malaysia has a certain standing in the country,” he said adding that the issue of the legality of the travel ban touched fundamental liberty enshrined in the Federal Constitution which warranted substantive hearing by this court.

Judge Ahmad Kamal set June 21 for case management before fixing a separate date to hear the merits of the judicial review.

On March 8, Capt (R) Muhammad Suhaimi Yahya, as a public officer of Bersatu, and Muhyiddin as the Bersatu president filed the application naming MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki and 19 others as the first to 20th respondents.

Senior federal counsel Ahmad Hanir Hambaly appeared for the government while counsel Rosli Dahlan appeared for Bersatu. – Bernama