Lifting of travel ban welcomed

I WELCOME the lifting of the several bans of Malaysian citizens to enter Sabah as announced by the newly elected chief minister of Sabah.

The ban was imposed to prevent, among others, Ambiga Sreenevasan and Maria Chin Abdullah from entering Sabah.

Sadly, the courts upheld the ban which in practical terms meant bestowing the immigration authorities with absolute and unfettered discretion to do as they willed.

The courts upheld both a denial of the right to be heard and the substantive right to have the ban decision reviewed by the courts.

This is, of course, antithetical to the rule of law; for then, discretionary powers of the authorities cannot be challenged. As was emphasised by Raja Azlan Shah, one-time head of the Malaysian judiciary:

"Unfettered discretion is a contradiction in terms … Every legal power must have legal limits, otherwise there is a dictatorship."

Gurdial Singh Nijar
Lawyer for Ambiga Sreenevasan and Maria Chin Abdullah