The controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) will run foul of the Federal Constitution in regards to Malay rights and Islam as the country’s religion, the Court of Appeal was told.
The contention was put forward by three groups - Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim), Urusetia Menangani Gejala Sosial (Unggas) and Persatuan Teras Pendidikan dan Kebajikan Malaysia (Teras) - which are appealing for leave for judicial review in order to stop the agreement.
Lawyer for the three groups, Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, said the court could weigh in on judicial reviews, even on policy matters if they affect the Constitution.
The usual logic is that the Government’s policy decisions cannot be questioned by the courts via judicial review.
Mohamed Haniff also argued that his clients have locus to file the application, as they are NGOs focused on Malay and Muslim rights, both issues that could run in conflict with the TPPA.
“The TPPA requires that whatever priorities we give to ourselves, we have to give to our investors too. If we don’t give such rights to our other (non-bumiputra) nationals, yet give it to investors, that is in breach of bumiputra rights,” he said.
Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan replied that it is not for the wisdom of the courts to decide if the Government should or should not enter into an agreement with any country.
He said the arguments put forward by the groups are hypothetical until the law is applied, making the case premature.
The three-man panel led by Justice Rohana Yusof, which included Justices Vernon Ong and Abdul Rahman Sebli, fixed July 26 to rule on the matter.
The application filed on Nov 4 last year named Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the International Trade and Industry Ministry and the Government as respondents.
On Jan 12, the Kuala Lumpur High Court rejected the application for leave for a judicial review on grounds that the trade agreement has yet to be signed.
Malaysia was one of 12 countries which concluded the negotiations in Atlanta on Oct 5 last year.
The pact was debated and approved by Parliament on Jan 26 and 27, and was later signed on Feb 4.