Categories: Selected Judgments

“Peruntukan” challenge: Leave granted

The grounds of judgment of Aziah Ali J in granting leave to Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj to challenge the “Special Constituency Allocation” given by the Federal Government only to Barisan Nasional MPs.

The judgment is here.

The Special Constituency Allocation is a fund administered through the Implementation and Coordinating Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department and given for various small projects throughout Malaysia.

Politicians from the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition have publicly stated many times that the Fund is only for Barisan Nasional politicians and Barisan Nasional constituencies.

However, in various answers to Parliamentary Questions and according to correspondence from the government department, the fund is said to be available for allocation throughout the country for deserving projects.

Dr Jeyakumar had made several applications on behalf of various schools and other bodies which in his view deserved assistance in his constituency.

All his applications were rejected. Hence, the application by him for judicial review.

The Attorney General objected to leave being granted. After hearing arguments, and reserving her decision, the Judge today allowed leave. The core of Her Ladyship’s reasons for doing so are summarised at paragraphs 14 to 17 of her Judgment.

In a nutshell, the Judge decided that although the allocation of the Fund may be a matter of prerogative, the Court’s still have jurisdiction to examine if the prerogative has been exercised in accordance with law. The Court found that there are issues which deserve a substantive hearing after examining the evidence. However, the Court stressed that it is not the judicial function to determine if the particular polisy or decision is fair but only whether the manner in which the decision was taken was in accordance with law.

UPDATED The Judge in granting leave also directed the Applicant to serve the cause papers on various other MPs (who had appeared in Court to hold a watching brief) as “Interested Parties” under Order 4353 rule 4 of the Rules of the High Court 1980.

Magnanimously, both the Attorney General’s Chambers and Dr Jeyakumar did not ask for costs in this public interest litigation.

The substantive hearing of the challenge will be coming up for mention on 18th March 2011, and a full hearing can be expected soon.

The lawyers:

Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan, Maha Balakrishnan and Daniel Albert appeared for YB Dr Jeyakumar. The Attorney General was represented by Senior Federal Counsel Puan Suzana Atan and Puan S Narkunavathy at the hearing, and by Federal Counsel Tuan Haifulkhair today for the pronouncement of the decision.

Holding a watching brief: Ranjit Singh appeared for YB Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, YB Nurul Izzah Anwar and YB Tian Chua. K Shanmuga acted on behalf of YB Dr Hatta Ramli, YB Liew Chin Tong, YB M Manogaran and YB Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud. Shamala Balasundram appeared for YB Khalid Samad and YB Loh Gwo Burne. YB Yusmadi Yusoff appeared in person.

Shanmuga K

Shanmuga K sometimes sees a purple banana emerging in his sub-conscious. An article seems to then be magically written. He is @shanmuga_k on Twitter. When he does not see those purple bananas, he practices as a lawyer at www.kanesalingam.com

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