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KUALA LUMPUR, Apr 1 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) has leave for High Court to hear its lawsuit against the home minister and Registrar of Societies (RoS) over its registration after the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) did not object.
High Court judge Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid approved the leave application today.
“I record in court that since there is no objection by the AGC on the [application],” the judge said in referring to Pejuang’s application for leave for judicial review, without giving any order as to costs.
Earlier this morning, Senior Federal Counsel Mohd Sabri Othman informed the court that the AGC has “no objections” to Pejuang’s application for leave for judicial review.
Mohd Sabri also confirmed to the judge that the home minister’s decision on Pejuang’s appeal has yet to be conveyed to the AGC.
Today was the hearing by the High Court of Pejuang’s application for leave for judicial review, with the lawsuit filed after the home minister failed to make any decision on Pejuang’s appeal to be registered as a political party.
In this lawsuit filed on March 1 by Pejuang secretary-general Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah on behalf of Pejuang’s founders, Pejuang wanted the courts to compel the home minister to decide on its January 8 appeal to be officially registered as well as the RoS to register it as a political party.
When met outside the courtroom, Pejuang’s lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali confirmed that the home minister still has not made any decision on Pejuang’s appeal against RoS’ refusal to register the party.
Rafique said the High Court has fixed April 15 as the next case management date.
“On that day, we will be getting further instructions on filing of affidavits, because we still do not have the response of the home minister and the RoS in relation to our prayers in court to compel the registration of Parti Pejuang and for the minister to make a decision on the appeal pursuant to Section 18(b) of the Societies Act 1966,” he told reporters.
Earlier, Rafique informed the court that his client has filed a certificate for urgency to ensure that the timeframe for the filing of affidavits by the government would be expedited in this court case.
What Pejuang is seeking
In this lawsuit, Pejuang is, via Amiruddin, seeking four court orders, including a declaration that omission or failure by the home minister to make any decision on Pejuang’s appeal letter dated January 8, 2021 on the RoS registration rejection was a breach of the home minister’s statutory obligations under Section 18 of the Societies Act 1966.
Another order sought was for a declaration that the breach of statutory obligations by the home minister — in failing to decide on the January 8 appeal — contravenes Amiruddin’s legitimate expectation, is unreasonable, malicious and an attempt to deny Amiruddin’s constitutional right to associate and Pejuang’s constitutional right to contest in the general elections using its own logo.
The third order sought was for a mandamus order to compel the home minister to decide on Pejuang’s appeal under Section 18(b) of the Societies Act 1966 within seven days of the date of the court’s judgment, while the fourth order sought was for a mandamus order to compel the home minister to order the RoS to finalise Pejuang’s registration within seven days of the date of the court’s judgment.
Attempt to register started since August 2020
Pejuang started the process to be registered by the government as a political party since August 19, 2020 when it submitted a full written application to the RoS.
By October 22, 2020, it had failed to obtain any reply despite checking seven times for updates on the status of the party registration application.
On December 10, 2020, Pejuang via Amiruddin sued RoS and its director-general to seek for the High Court to compel the RoS to make a decision on the party’s August application to be officially registered.
But just a day before the High Court was scheduled to hear Pejuang’s application for leave for judicial review to challenge RoS’ months-long delay in deciding on the party registration application, the RoS on January 6, 2021 sent an email to notify Pejuang that it had decided to reject the party’s application for registration.
Following the RoS rejection of Pejuang’s registration application, the party then withdrew its lawsuit that had sought to have RoS decide on the registration application.
Pejuang on January 8, 2021 then submitted a letter to the home minister to appeal against the RoS rejection, but no decision has been made yet on this appeal to date and which then led to the filing of today’s lawsuit.
In an affidavit to support Pejuang’s lawsuit, Amiruddin said Pejuang was unable to carry out activities and political programmes under the Pejuang name or to contest in elections using its own logo, while also highlighting that political uncertainties meant the 15th general election could be held at any time.
RoS is a unit under the Home Ministry and the home minister is Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin, who is also the Perikatan Nasional and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) secretary-general.
Pejuang was co-founded by Dr Mahathir and his supporters after they were sacked from the Bersatu party in May due to a dispute with Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his Perikatan Nasional government.