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Gilbert Louis performing at Hong Lim Park (Photo by Lawerence Chong)

Singaporean Gilbert Louis released by Malaysian Authorities after more than a month in detention

By way of a Facebook post on 14 November, international human rights lawyer M Ravi announced that Gilbert Louis would be released at 6pm on the same day. TOC understands that M Ravi is assisting Gilbert's counsel, Mr Arun Kasi, in this matter. Gilbert was first detained on 9 October in relation to allegedly harboring 3 foreigners who did not have valid visas.

Since the time he was first detained, he was not produced before any magistrate or charged with any offence. This prompted Mr Arun Kasi file an Habeas Corpus application and commence judicial review proceedings against the Malaysian Immigration Department on behalf of him.

Mr M. Ravi (left) and Mr Arun Kasi (right)

The legal proceedings were first heard in Court on 9 November and were adjourned to 15 November 2018. TOC understands that, owing to Gilbert's release, the proceedings will be withdrawn.

“Immigration released him today with a short-term special pass and set him free. This is exactly what I prayed for, and will withdraw both applications tomorrow morning as well,” - Mr Arun Kasi

On 9 November, during the hearing to determine whether the judicial review application has any merit, lawyers for the Immigration Department argued that the High Court cannot hear the case by relying on a ouster clause that immunizes Immigration Department decisions from judicial review. Gilbert's lawyers intended to pursue the argument that their opposing counsel's arguments were in direct contradiction of the Malaysian AG's directions that ouster clauses should not be relied upon. This was enunciated by the AG Mr Tommy Thomas in a speech made on 14 August 2018.

"...It follows that provisions in written law which purport to oust the jurisdiction of the court must be repealed, and I will be recommending to the Government to put the necessary legislation in place.

Pending the enactment of such law, Chambers will henceforth cease to rely on ouster clauses in any written law, and will not object to a litigant’s right to access to court to pursue his or her grievances. Our focus will hereafter be on the merits of the complaint of a litigant, rather than searching for technical and procedural objections to strike out his or her case and thereby shutting the door to a court challenge." - Mr Tommy Thomas (Emphasis in bold ours)
The case was mired in further controversy when, on 13 November, Gilbert was not allowed to sign an affidavit in support of the Haebeas Corpus application. This denial, Mr Kasi argued, amounted to restricting Gilbert's access to justice and he intended to seek recourse for in due course.

"It is time that Malaysia and for that matter Singapore set up an Immigration tribunal or amend their immigration laws that incorporates the principle of the right of fair hearing before one is deported. This is a basic right under international human rights law. I am especially concerned for those who have little or no access to justice like migrant workers. The legal challenges in this case have brought to light serious inequities and unfairness in the legal process in immigration matters. Gilbert had suffered injustice in being unlawfully detained for more than 30 days." - M Ravi

Gilbert has been released on a short-term visit pass and is expected to return to Singapore shortly.