The Kuala Lumpur High Court on Tuesday (4 May) ruled that the detention of a Singaporean man for nearly a month by the Immigration Department in Johor in 2018 was unconstitutional.
Wong Chuen Kuean was held by the Immigration Department between 28 Feb 2018 to 26 Mar 2018, which was longer than the 14 days maximum period stipulated under Article 5(4) of the Malaysian Federal Constitution for the department to produce him before a magistrate.
Under the constitutional provision, a foreigner who is arrested and detained under immigration laws must be produced before a magistrate “without unreasonable delay” within 14 days. A Malaysian citizen in such a situation, on the other hand, must be produced within 24 hours.
Mr Wong’s case was heard in open court before Justice Datuk Noordin Binti Badaruddin on Tuesday, who found that contrary to the Immigration Department’s claims that he was first produced on 13 Mar 2018 and again on 26 Mar 2018, Mr Wong was only brought before the magistrate on the latter date.
Arun Kasi, Mr Wong’s lawyer, told TOC in response to queries on whether there is currently any pending investigation against Mr Wong, that there is currently no such investigation.
His client had pleaded guilty and had paid a fine to be released after being brought in front of the magistrate, he said.
“The process of paying fine took a while until when the detention continued. Then around then, he was freed,” Mr Arun added.
Human rights lawyer M Ravi, who is Mr Wong’s Singaporean lawyer and Mr Arun’s colleague, said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that the High Court decision “comes as a huge relief” not only for Mr Wong, but also for other Singaporeans and foreigners who may be detained for over 24 hours and up to 14 days in Malaysia under immigration laws without being produced before a magistrate.
“Mr Wong approached me when I was assisting Gilbert Louis, another Singaporean who was unlawfully detained for more than 30 days, where I instructed my colleague in Malaysia Mr Arun Kasi who filed a suit against Malaysian Immigration on behalf of Gilbert Louis,” he said.
On whether a written judgement on the case will be released, Mr Arul said that “there is a likelihood” that one will be made available, usually weeks after the decision is delivered.
When asked whether Mr Wong would receive any compensation following his unconstitutional detention, Mr Arul told TOC that he will be taking his client’s instruction in filing further action.
“The doors are basically open now with the declaration of unconstitutional detention today,” he said.