Lawyer loses bid to challenge departure levy



The Kuala Lumpur High Court today dismissed a suit filed by lawyer R Kengadharan against the Finance Minister and the government to challenge the imposition of the departure levy on Malaysians travelling overseas.

The decision was made by Judge Mariana Yahya in her chambers in the presence of Kengadharan’s (photo) counsel, A Srimurugan, while senior federal counsel Natrah Idris acted for the Finance Minister and the government.

Srimurugan told reporters that the court was bound by the decision of the Federal Court in the case of Damansara MP Tony Pua and Loh Wai Kong cases, where it ruled that the right to travel abroad was not an absolute right.

“The judge said she was bound by the higher authorities and followed the pronouncement of Loh’s case and said, in Malaysia, it appeared as of today, we do not have a constitutional right to travel abroad,” he said.

Srimurugan said his client will file an appeal against today's decision.

Kengadharan, in his originating summons filed at the High Court in August last year, said the Departure Levy Act 2018 and the Departure Levy Order 2019 are in breach of his fundamental right to travel.

He had sought a declaration that the orders breach Article 5 (1) of the Federal Constitution and cannot be enforced.

In his affidavit to support the suit, Kengadharan said any form of tax imposed, including on those who wish to go on a pilgrimage or to perform the hajj, was a violation of fundamental liberties.

Kengadharan also said any imposition of a departure tax, in addition to the existing service and airport taxes, would be burdensome and harsh.

- Bernama

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