High Court dismisses Dr M's suit against Muhyiddin over Bersatu membership

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KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 7): The High Court today struck off the civil lawsuit filed by former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and five others against Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin over the termination of their membership in Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).

This was after the defendants applied to strike out the legal challenge to the membership termination on the grounds that it was "frivolous, vexatious, scandalous and an abuse of court process". 

Besides Muhyiddin, three others were named as defendants in the suit, namely Bersatu secretary-general and Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin, party organising secretary Captain (Rtd) Muhammad Suhaimi Yahya and Registrar of Societies (RoS) director-general Masyati Abang Ibrahim.

Muhyiddin, Hamzah and Captain Suhaimi were represented by Datuk DP Naban, Rosli Dahlan and Leonard D'Cruz.

High Court Judge Justice Datin Rohani Ismail today ruled that the plaintiffs did not have locus standi to bring forward the action as their termination from the party was confirmed in a Bersatu Supreme Council meeting on June 4.

She also held that Section 18C of the Societies Act 1966 states that any party decisions cannot be challenged in court.

The section provides that any decision or matter relating to the affairs of a party shall not be challenged, appealed against, reviewed, quashed or called into question in any court on any ground.

Ironically, it was Dr Mahathir himself who caused Section 18C of the Societies Act 1966 to be amended in the late 1980s at the height of an Umno power struggle, allowing him to form Umno (Baru) after Umno was ordered to be deregistered.

However, Dr Mahathir's lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla argued that the validity of the June 4 Bersatu Supreme Council meeting, which purportedly confirmed the membership termination, is in fact being challenged. 

He also argued that the reading of Section 18C of the Societies Act 1966 provides for exceptions to be brought in and that an exception should have been applied in this case. 

As such, Mohamed Haniff told reporters that he would advise his client that there are grounds to appeal against today's decision, subject to further analysis of the grounds of the judgement. 

"But whether the appeal will be filed or otherwise will be determined by the plaintiffs upon considering the political developments in the nation.

“So at this juncture, I am not able to confirm if and when the notice of appeal will be filed," he said.

In their suit, Dr Mahathir and five others claimed that the termination of Dr Mahathir as the chairman of Bersatu was unlawful. The suit also seeks a declaration that Dr Mahathir and the five others are still rightful members of Bersatu and that their posts in the party remain intact.

The five others are disputed Bersatu deputy president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, former Bersatu Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, former education minister Dr Maszlee Malik, disputed Bersatu Supreme Council member Datuk Wira Amiruddin Hamzah and former party secretary-general Datuk Wira Marzuki Yahya.

However, Syed Saddiq has previously withdrawn himself as a plaintiff in the action.

Bersatu officially declared the membership of Dr Mahathir, Mukhriz, Syed Saddiq, Maszlee, Amiruddin and Marzuki void for sitting with the opposition during the May 18 Dewan Rakyat session.

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