Penang may sue Putrajaya after court declares state-backed volunteer patrol unit legit

By Opalyn Mok
On August 31, 2014, PPS members who had participated in the Merdeka celebrations in Penang were arrested. — Picture by KE Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, March 29 ― The Pakatan Harapan Penang government is considering suing the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government and the Home Ministry for defamation after the Court of Appeal found its volunteer patrol unit (PPS) to be lawful.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng described the appellate court’s decision yesterday as a vindication of PPS whose members, over 150 who were arrested in 2014 for allegedly being part of an illegal society.

“The unhappy experience of the 158 PPS members being arrested right after the Merdeka celebrations has been cleared by the Court of Appeal with its decision that this was a lawful organisation set up by the state government to carry out community service for the people,” he told a news conference here today.

“The PPS members have been vindicated by the Court of Appeals' decision and we hope that this decision will be respected,” he said.

He added that the court ruling meant PPS can be revived and continue with its community service activities.

“We will leave it to the PPS members on whether they want to revive it now because we have another hurdle if the federal government decided to appeal against this decision to the Federal Court,” Lim said.

“PPS is a lawful organisation so the police must return all of the seized items so Phee will be writing to them to return all of it,” he said, referring to state exco Phee Boon Poh who was in charge of PPS previously.

But Lim also noted that the federal government as respondents have 30 days to take up the appellate court’s decision with the Federal Court.

“They can appeal to the Federal Court and if they obtained a stay pending the appeal, this means PPS will have to stop again pending the case if they decided to revive it now,” Lim who is also DAP secretary-general said.

Yesterday, a three-judge panel led by Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat ruled in favour of the Penang government to set aside an earlier High Court ruling that PPS was illegal.

The Court of Appeal Bench granted a certiorari order to the state government to cancel a previous order by the Home Minister on November 2014 to declare PPS unlawful.

The appellate court also allowed an application by the state government for an order to declare that PPS is not a society under the Societies Act 1965.

The federal government’s agencies were then ordered by the court to return all seized equipment, vests, seals, insignia, arms and documents to PPS.

The Penang state government formed PPS back in 2011 under the Penang state executive council as a community service to the public.

On August 31, 2014, PPS members who had participated in the Merdeka celebrations in Penang were arrested and later, even Phee was detained.

The Home Ministry later declared the organisation as illegal as it was not registered in the Registrar of Societies.

The Penang state government filed a judicial review on January 27, 2015 to challenge the Home Ministry's order and named the Home Minister, the Inspector-General of Police and the federal government as respondents in the application.

The Penang High Court dismissed the judicial review application on November 22 last year and ruled that PPS was unlawful.

The Penang state government immediately filed an appeal against the decision.