In January 2021, the Federal Court ruled that Maria Chin Abdullah’s travel ban imposed by the Immigration Department in 2016 was illegal and unlawful. The Malaysian Government had no power to stop Maria from travelling because she had disparaged and ridiculed it at forums and assemblies. Maria was the then BERSIH 2.0 chairperson.
When can our authorities prevent or ban a citizen from leaving Malaysia? How did the Federal Court decide on the validity of the ban? Is the right to travel a fundamental right? Can Parliament remove the courts’ powers to hear immigration cases?
Also, what is the “basic structure doctrine”?
During our chat, we discussed:
- the reasoning of the judges who were in the majority and minority, respectively
- the common situations whereby the authorities can impose a travel ban
- whether Malaysians have a fundamental right to move freely and travel, under the Federal Constitution
- the basic structure doctrine
- whether section 59A of the Immigration Act 1959/63, which limits the courts’ powers to hear immigration cases, is constitutional