By Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid | Malaysiakini

Despite the current Emergency in Malaysia slated to end on Aug 1, Bersih and six other NGOs are still proceeding with a related legal challenge.

The seven NGOs’ counsel New Sin Yew today said the originating summons is not just over the present Covid-19-linked emergency, but also over the validity of a parliamentary amendment to an emergency-related provision in the Federal Constitution.

His explanation was over whether the present legal action would be rendered academic when the emergency is scheduled to end on Aug 1.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court has yet to fix a date to hear the main legal action by the seven NGOs.

Instead, the high court today has fixed July 22 to hear the NGOs’ application to refer to the Federal Court six issues related to the emergency.

Among the issues that the NGOs seek for the apex court to determine is whether a specific amendment made to the Federal Constitution is invalid and unconstitutional.

The amendment in question is one that inserted Article 150 (8), which ousts the power of the court to hear legal action relating to the emergency ordinance promulgated following the emergency proclamation.

The referral bid is linked to the main legal action by Bersih as well as six other NGOs – Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Aliran, the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH), Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (Gerak), and Save Rivers – over the validity of the present emergency to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia.

The seven NGOs’ originating summons named Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and the government as defendants.

Speaking to the media after case management, New said the main legal action would not be rendered academic if the emergency is lifted on Aug 1, as the NGOs are also targeting the validity of the 1981 amendment that resulted in Article 150 (8) of the Federal Constitution.

“What we are asking for is not just concerning this (current) emergency, as the OS (originating summons) also seeks certain (court) orders on the constitutionality of the 1981 amendment, which amended Article 150 to its current form (insertion of the ouster clause provision via sub-article 8).

“We contend that the amendment, which inserted the ouster clause, is not valid,” New said, adding that the present legal action’s possible ramification is not limited to the present emergency but to the proclamation of emergency in general.

Counsel New Sin Yew

Meanwhile on the outcome of the case management of the legal action before the Kuala Lumpur High Court, New said that judge Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid fixed July 22 to hear the seven NGO’s bid to have the Federal Court decide on the six legal questions regarding the emergency.

He added that if the high court on that date allows the application, then the six questions would be referred to the Federal Court to decide on.

New added that if the apex court decides in the seven NGOs’ favour regarding the six questions, then the plaintiffs would have achieved what it sought via the main legal action.

When met by the media after the same case management, lawyer Surendra Ananth said the high court had also fixed July 22 to hear a similar constitutional referral application by PKR senator Mohd Yusmadi Mohd Yusoff and the  party’s Hang Tuah Jaya MP Shamsul Iskandar Mohd.

Surendra acts for the two PKR politicians, who were previously allowed to intervene in the seven NGOs’ main legal action in order to support it.

Previously, three PAS politicians – senators Khairil Nizam Khirudin and Mohd Apandi Mohamad, as well as Pasir Mas MP Ahmad Fadhli Shaari – were also allowed to intervene in the same proceedings.

However, the three PAS politicians seek to oppose the main legal action by the seven NGOs.