Building personal value in a post-truth world


I was reading Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar’s speech where he shared the 10 lessons in building true value in a post-truth world and wow, I was mesmerized by the similarity of thoughts. That motivated me to share 8 lessons that I have learnt in building true value in a post-truth world, on a personal level.

Lesson 1 – Development is about growth but not necessarily about equity

We are living in a capitalist society. In capitalism, who are the king? Not the bankers and billionaires, but the consumers. Customers make demand in accordance to their personal preferences. In the era of artificial intelligence, if robots are to replace human being and only the rich can own robots, where do you think the wealth will go to? To these rich consumers. Therefore development is about growth but not necessarily with equity.

In fact, I agree with the perspective offered by Wilham Ropke who said:

“The powers of the market economy is, so to speak, a ‘plebiscite de tous les jours’ where every monetary unit spent by the consumers represent a ballot, and where the procedures are endeavouring, by their advertising, , to give ‘election publicity’ to an infinite number of parties (ie the goods), the result is a market democracy which in its silent precision surpasses the most perfect political democracy.”

On personal level, I subscribe to the idea that there is no equity in personal development. Each of us have our own subjective preferences which ought to be respected and be allowed to develop ourselves in the way we had chosen to.

Lesson 2 – Do good out of love, for love is as love does

Our leadership, authority, service and sacrifice comes from this root, namely love. If we associate love with behavior and choice rather than with feelings, love becomes an act. I cannot control how I feel about other people but I can control of how I behave towards other people because it is a choice that I can make.

The qualities expounded in love, namely, patience, kindness, humility, respectfulness, selflessness, forgiveness, honesty and commitment are predicated in my choice of behavior that I am striving to develop, especially in today’s post truth world.

Lesson 3 – Drivers of development and the special sauce

The drivers of my personal growth come from having a direction that I want to go, followed by action to reach the destination. I believe that I would not reach my full potential unless I have mapped by personal growth. In the mapping process, a lot of questions were thrown to me which eventually helped me to find my direction.

While the drivers remain important in this ever-changing world, they are not sufficient. Just getting these two ingredients right need not lead to a thriving personal development. I need my own special sauce to perfect the recipe: Faith and passion. I would have moved on, if not for the special sauce.

Lesson 4 – Mindset is key

Against the backdrop of drivers of development, the key to building true value for myself is having the correct mindset. The truth of this statement must always be beyond reproach. In a post truth world where emotion seems to govern the truth, possessing a correct mindset charts the course of my life and growth so that I shall not being affected when emotion is trying to define the truth.

Mindset in a post truth world is akin to financial stability in economic growth. Mindset is powerful because it can affect the ecosystem of our mind and action. When our mindset becomes polluted, so does the value that we build.

Lesson 5 – People x Environment

The people whom we surround ourselves with makes or breaks us, so is the environment that we live in. Both people and environment have a major role to play in shaping our growth. It is important that we surround ourselves with people who brings out the best in us. I am blessed to have a mother who continuously encourage me to be my best version. My close friends constantly affirm and showed their faith in me. There has been no deficit of encouragement all this while.

I was working at my previous firm four years ago where my colleagues worked tirelessly to get up cases for trial. Living in that environment has indeed motivated me to be passionate in my work. Environment speaks volume about the external factors affecting one’s personal development. Though in a different line now, passion remains the norm, a relic of the days working in that previous firm.

Lesson 6 – People and Leadership

As the eldest child, I build my influence over my siblings through trust, stewardship, care, concern, service, humility and understanding, though I must add, it has been a great challenge, especially when you have hard headed siblings. Most of the time I would give them my thoughts and stand, I respect them enough to make their own decision. Ultimately, my siblings decide what is best for themselves. It is important not to overstep the boundary between influence and control.

Leaders have always existed since ancient times, but it takes different understanding to different people. Leadership is not about the leaders themselves, rather it is about the people led by the leaders and the relationship between the two.

Leadership is about trust, stewardship, care, concern, service, humility and understanding. It concerns the ability to engage, influence and care for the people where those people may ask themselves whether they are better off for being led by the leader.

Lesson 7 – Culture eats strategy for breakfast

This oft-quoted statement from Peter Drucker is true at the corporate level, but at personal level? Peter Drucker said this when he was partnering with Ford, stressing the importance of an alignment between a supporting culture and strategic changes made in the organization.

At personal level, I can come up with the best plan and strategy to achieve certain things but if I do not have the trust and support of my family members and people around me, whatever strategy I have could not be carried out successfully.

In an organization, culture is how people collaborate, make changes and getting the work done. It indicates a strong human element. Put simply, it represents people need to use appropriate tools to get things done. Tools alone would not function properly without people and without tools, human is not going to go far in their achievement, therefore, I need to choose the right strategy that fits my culture.

Lesson 8 – The Interconnectedness of Everything

What I did and experienced earlier and what happened to me today are connected. If we think that we can independently alter an element in our system and not expecting changes elsewhere, we have not fully understood the above theory.

Until now, I still marvel whenever I think about where I am now and things that I did in the past, such as the courses that I have studied, friends that I have made etc. Apparently, law and L&D did not seem to have connection. Yet, this is where I am now. In fact, my law degree and past experiences in legal practice have stood me in good stead in my current position.

As bits and pieces comes together from various corners of my life to form a more complete picture of my life’s puzzle, I begin to see and start to enjoy the interconnectedness of everything in my life. This is the faith that have worked well for me in this post-truth world.


Building true value in personal development is already a huge challenge. It is more so in a post truth world.  We ought to be even more clearer of our position and our stand, otherwise, we will sway with the crowd and let emotion govern the mind. It is good to remind myself that what we hear in a post-truth world is an opinion, may not be fact and what we see is a perspective, may not be the truth.


Mounting challenge against the new Anti-Fake News law


The Malaysian online news portal Malaysiakini filed an application for judicial review on April 27, 2018 to challenge the constitutionality of the new Anti-Fake News Act 2018 that came into force on April 11, 2018.

As the definition of news in the Act covers digital publication and the special media, journalist and news portal will be at great risk of being caught under the Act because they would not be able to fully guarantee the accuracy of news when it first reached them and at the same time, they have a duty to keep information flowing.

The news portal is seeking leave for a declaration that the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 is unconstitutional for being in violation of Article 5 and Article 10 read with Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

In the meantime, the history of a string of challenges on the constitutionality of legislations that were said to infringe the fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution showed that Malaysians are indeed a courageous lot. Let’s look at some of the challenges and outcome.

Challenge on the constitutionality of Section 4 of Sedition Act 1948 unsuccessful

Azmi Sharom, a University Malaya lecturer was charged in the Sessions Court on September 2, 2014 under Section 4(1) of the controversial Sedition Act 1948 for making seditious comments over the 2009 Perak crisis with an alternative charge under Section 4(1)(c) of the same Act that deals with individuals who publish seditious publications.

On November 5, 2014 the matter was referred to the Federal Court for determination of the question of whether Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948 contravenes Article 10(2) of the Federal Constitution and therefore null and void and whether the Sedition Act 1948 is a valid and enforceable legislation under the Federal Constitution.

The Federal Court ruled on October 6, 2015 that being a pre-merdeka law, the Sedition Act 1948 was saved by Article 162 of the Federal Constitution as the Act was intended to be an “existing law” that continues to be valid and enforceable upon the coming into operation of the Constitution on Merdeka Day and therefore held that the Sedition Act was a valid piece of legislation.

The Federal Court also ruled that Section 4 of the Sedition Act 1954 was constitutional as it did not contravene Article 10(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution and remitted Azmi’s case to the Sessions Court for trial. However, the prosecution then withdrew the charge against Azmi Sharom which resulted in the court having acquitted and discharged the said lecturer of the sedition charge in February 2016.

Another case in line was the Kerajaan Malaysia v Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei where the Federal Court ruled on January 8, 2018 that there was abuse of process by bringing a civil application to challenge the constitutionality of Section 3(3) of the Sedition Act 1948 in a criminal suit, after his first application to strike out the criminal charge under Section 4(1)(c) of the Act in the Sessions Court was unsuccessful and therefore ordered that Mat Shuhaimi to stand trial for sedition.

Challenge on the constitutionality of Section 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 successful

In the case of Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, the then Selangor Deputy Speaker was charged under Sections 9(1) and 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) for not giving the police the required 10-day notice to holding the Black Out 505 rally back in 2013.

The case was referred to the Court of Appeal for determination of a constitutional issue where Section 9(5) of the PAA was argued to run counter to Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. The Court of Appeal held that failure to give a 10-day notice should not amount to a criminal offence as this is a mockery of the fundamental right to assemble peaceful enshrined under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. On April 25, 2014 the Court of Appeal ruled that while Section 9(1) of the PAA is a reasonable restriction and thus constitutional, Section 9(5) on the other hand, was unconstitutional as it would be impossible for an organizer to organize a spontaneous assembly without being under threat of prosecution.

Maria Chin Abdullah was the other person who was charged with Section 9(1) and 9(5) of the PAA for failing to give police the 10-day period notice before organizing the Bersih 4 rally on August 29, 2015. Maria filed an application to strike out the charge against her following the ruling in Court of Appeal in Nik Nazmi’s case that Section 9(5) was unconstitutional and therefore, there was no offence committed when the rally was conducted on August 29, 2015. The High Court rejected her application to strike out the charge, and hence her appeal to the Court of Appeal who reversed the High Court’s decision, therefore, upholding that Section 9(5) of the PAA was unconstitutional and allowed her appeal to strike out the charge for failure to give the 10-day notice.

Constitutionality of Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission 2009 challenged

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was charged under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 (MACC Act) for the offence of using his position as Chief Minister to gain gratification for himself by approving the application for conversion of agricultural land to a public housing zone to a company, Magnificient Emblem Sdn Bhd, to which he had pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.

Lim, who was required under Section 62 of the MACC Act to disclose his defence to the prosecution before the trial began, has filed a challenge against the constitutionality of Section 62 of the MACC Act for being ultra-vires Article 5(1) and 8(1) of the Federal Constitution. His challenge at the High Court was unsuccessful. On appeal to the Court of Appeal, the Court reversed the High Court decision on August 7, 2017 thereby ruled that Section 62 of the MACC Act was unconstitutional.

However, the Court of Appeal’s ruling was reversed by the Federal Court who ruled that the Section 62 of the MACC Act was constitutional and ordered Lim Guan Eng to disclose his defence to the prosecution pursuant to Section 62 of the MACC Act before the beginning of trial. The matter was fixed for trial on Mac and April but was postponed to May 21, 2018 after the general election.


The trend above demonstrated that so long as the question has not reached the final courts, we cannot be too sure of the outcome. Decisions can be overturned just like the flip of a coin. Although the Attorney General has delivered a blow to Malaysiakini’s application by raising objection at leave stage despite the new Government’s direction that it has no intention to retain the Anti-fake news law, we hope that this will not deter the news portal’s march.

Law has a bigger role to play here and judges’ role is to interpret the law accordingly to ensure that the interpretation is in accordance with the intention of Parliament. As we have just witnessed the existence of justice in our country, let’s not lose hope.

Keeping a healthy relationship balance with the people in our lives

bank balance

Been reading again on creating a healthy environment for healthy growth to occur. In this respect, the state of our relational bank account plays a determining factor for growth to occur. Relational bank account or as coined by Stephen R. Covey, emotional bank account, is like making deposits and withdrawals from a bank account. The relational account metaphor teaches us the importance of keeping healthy relationship balances with the significant people in our lives, including those we lead.

New therapists often believe that they can heal people, but with experience they usually discover they do not possess that power. What a good therapist can do is to create a healthy environment for the client by establishing a loving relationship based on respect, trust, acceptance and commitment. Once a therapeutic and safe environment is created, patients can then begin the process of healing themselves.

Relational bank account measures trust, and this account applies in workplace too. It is important that there is trust been built up in a working relationship. An employer who does not trust his employee is in fact making a withdrawal from the relational bank account. Once it exceeds the deposits made, the account will be overdrawn. An overdrawn bank account is never a healthy account.

Another online story I have read recently was about an elderly shop assistant earning low wages but he works very hard for the shop owner who trusted him to take care of the shop. Even though age was catching up and the elderly man was hospitalized for injuries and sickness numerous times, he would try to get himself out quickly to resume work, even before he had fully recovered from his injuries, all because of the trust his employer had in him. You may argue this was in the 60’s time and no longer applicable these days, but believe me, if you had truly learned to regard one another’s concern as significant as your own, there would be no need for hierarchy.

Trust may not be born with. You can’t turn a firefly into a snail or a snail into a firefly but trust can be learnt. Trust is one of the greatest gifts you can give to others, and they’ll love you for this gift and reward you abundantly.


Relationships are never about power


A mother was speaking to her little son, listening intently to him telling her a story. She knew the story much better than him, yet she listened intently as if this is the very first time she came across what her son shared with her.

When I was in office speaking to an elderly cleaning lady, I listened intently to her telling me stories that I have known better, yet I listened intently as if this is the very first time I had come across. Why? The answer is not that I have to do it, but because I chose to do it.

Parents would be able to relate to this. As a parent, you don’t play a game with a child to show your superiority. Rather, you chose to limit yourselves so as to facilitate and honor that relationship. You will even lose a competition to accomplish love. It is not about winning and losing, but about love and respect.

Both the mother and me chose to limit ourselves out of respect for the child and the elderly. We certainly are not bringing to mind our knowledge of what the child and the elderly said, though they are already within our knowledge.

As the mother and me are listening to the child and the elderly respectively, it is as if this is the first time we have known about them and we take great delight to seeing them through the eyes of the child and the elderly. If there is one thing I always keep in mind, it is that relationships are never about power.

Specific performance for breach of employment contracts -vs- reinstatement: An analysis


Supposedly a singer contracts to sing on a particular night, but he somehow refused to sing on that particular night as contracted, proceedings to compel him to perform his part of obligation is perhaps possible.

Now supposedly he sang on that particular night but his voice was either too loud, too soft, too quiet, too quick, too slow or too sharp, could an employer get his contract of service specifically enforced against the singer? In other words, could an employer get an order of specific performance of a contract for personal service?

General principles of specific performance and its non-applicability to employment contracts

Specific performance is an order of court governed under the Specific Relief Act 1950 compelling one party to perform his contractual obligation. While the Act does not expressly prohibit the relief of specific performance to contracts for personal service, illustration (a) to Section 20(1)(b) refers to contracts for personal service. Therefrom, our courts have been treating it as a general principle and applying them in toto.

Rationale for non-application in employment contracts

Rationale for such non-application of the relief in employment contracts are observed in the English case of Johnson v Shrewsbury and Birmingham Rly Co[1]. Firstly, providing service is closely connected to the personal qualification of an employee, making it very subjective and therefore requiring constant supervision of the courts. Secondly, because parties should not be compelled to be in a relationship that they have opted out from.

In the illustration above where a singer was contracted to sing as the facts in GH Giles & Co Ltd v Morris[2] Meggary J in refusing specific performance had correctly observed that “for who could say whether the imperfection of performance were natural or self-induced”?

In Malaysia, the Federal Court decision of Mohd Ahmad v Yang Di Pertua Majlis Daerah Jempol Negeri Sembilan[3] is the authority for non-application of specific performance to contracts for personal service. It was held:

“[a] that the court will not order specific performance of a contract of service between master and servant, except [1] where a claimant before an Industrial Court claiming reinstatement on ground of dismissal without just cause or excuse under Section 20 of the Industrial Relations Act 1967; and [2] where a holder of any public office as set out in Article 132 of the Federal Constitution.”

The eloquence of this passage distils a direction on the lower courts to similarly apply the general rule against specific performance to contracts for personal service without looking into the requirements under Specific Relief Act[4] of whether the contracts are in minute details or dependent on personal qualification, as can be seen from the High Court decision of Mohd Sobri Che Hassan v Pihak Berkuasa Tatatertib Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai & Anor[5]. The Applicant’s application to quash the decision to dismiss him was dismissed following the general rule against specific performance as enunciated in Mohd Ahmad (supra). However, his appeal to the Court of Appeal against the dismissal was allowed[6], albeit on different grounds and Mohd Ahmad (supra) was distinguished because the Applicant was not praying for specific performance, but a review. Let’s see whether it goes to further appeal.

The rationale – an analysis


While the relief of specific performance is not applicable to employment contracts, reinstatement which has the same effect as specific performance in reinforcing a contract between an employer and an employee is on the other hand recognized as a remedy under section 20 of the Industrial Relation Act 1967. In fact, reinstatement was considered by Abdoolcader J as “a serious inroad into the general rule” in his decision of Sivaperuman v Heah Seok Yeong Realty Sdn Bhd[7]. Having the same effect, why the different treatment? A chasm between these two reliefs would require a conciliation.

The rationale given in Johnson’s case (supra) to justify refusal of the remedy of specific performance in contracts for personal service where neither an employer nor an employee should be compelled to be in a relationship which they have opted out of, seems to be out of place by today’s working standards. Where an order for reinstatement in favor of a dismissed employee being made, isn’t the employer being similarly compelled to in be in a relationship which they have opted out from? Given, an employer is always at liberty to file for a review to challenge such decision, but until it being quashed, that is the effect.

While our courts have religiously followed the general rule against specific performance in employment contracts, we see radical developments overseas challenging the general rule. In Siphokazi Somi v Old Mutual Africa Holdings (Pty) Ltd[8], an employee sought to declare her dismissal to be unlawful for breach of contract instead of unfair dismissal as she wished to enforce the provisions of the contract. In allowing the relief of specific performance to the dismissed employee, the Court observed:

“It is well-established that the remedy of specific performance in the case of an alleged contractual breach of the employment contract is a separate remedy from the unfair dismissal remedy provided for in the LRA. The right not to be unlawfully dismissed in the terms of the common law remained even after the introduction of the unfair dismissal concept by the Labour Relations Act….It is well-established in law that an employee whose contract of employment has been unlawfully terminated by the employer has an election to either accept the breach of contract and sue for damages or enforce the contract. The remedy in the case where the employee enforces the contract in the face of a breach would generally be specific performance.”[9]


The purpose of this analysis is not to suggest that a dismissed employee should go to civil courts for specific performance instead of filing a representation for reinstatement at an Industrial Court, bearing in mind specific performance requires a much higher threshold. An applicant has to establish breach of contract, show balance of convenience in his favor plus establishing the fact that the contracts are not dependent on personal qualification. However, should an applicant choose to go that path, I see no reason why he should be denied from exercising his right to either accept the breach and sue for damages, or to enforce the terms of contract by way of specific performance when a breach of employment contract occurs.

In addition, the breach of employment contracts is not limited to termination of contract. A breach may occur to any of the terms therein including conditions, duties, rights and benefits that should be allowed to be specifically enforced, subject of course to observance under Specific Relief Act 1950[10], otherwise what is the point of having conditions, duties, rights and benefits in an employment contract if they cannot be specifically enforced.

[1] (1853) De GM & G 914, 43 ER 358

[2] [1972] 1 ALL ER 960

[3] [1997] 3 CLJ 135

[4] Section 20(1)(b)

[5] [2016] 2 ILR 1, HC

[6] [2018] 2 CLJ 715, CoA

[7] [1979] 1 MLJ 150, FC

[8] Case No. 12828/14, July 3, 2015

[9] Paragraph [22] to [24] to Somi’s decision

[10] Section 20(1)(b)

Professionalism -vs- Idealism

20170415 Photo 1

One day, Zilu, Zheng Dian, Ran You and Gongxi Chi, all disciples of Confucius sat down in attendance with Confucius. Confucius asked them: I heard you all often say “Nobody understands my ambition. Now, suppose, there was someone who understood you and planned to employ you, what would you do?

Zilu hastily said: “Give me a middle sized kingdom with 1,000 war chariots between 2 large kingdoms threatening with invasion and food shortage. If I am allowed to manage it, in 3 years time, I would cause the country to become brave and to be able to find a direction to itself.

Grandmaster gave a faint smile and asked Ran Qiu to which he replied, “If I am allowed to reign a country of about 50 to 60 square feet, within 3 years, I would give the people enough food to eat and clothes to wear. But to make the country prosper through rites and music, that will have to wait for a sage or junzi.”

Next was Gongxi Chi’s turn who said: “I am willing to learn. I would like to dress in my robes of office to be a minor official”. He did not mention of ruling a nation or governing its people.

You’ll note that each answer was more modest than the last. Then came Dian’s turn.

“Dian, how about you?” Confucius asked. “My ambition is, at the end of spring, in the third month of the lunar calendar (April or May in western calendar) to put on newly made spring clothes, and in the season when all the world is in bloom and all of nature has come back to life, to go with a few adult friends, and a group of children, to bathe together in the waters of the River Yi, now free from the winter’s ice.

Once we are perfectly clean, we will bask in the spring breeze on the Rain Altar by the side of the River Yi, letting it blow into us and become one with us, to welcome the season of life and vitality along with the heavens and the earth, enjoying a rite of the spirit. When this rite is complete, everybody will happily return home, singing songs. This is all I want.”

When Confucius heard this, he heaved a long sigh and said: “I am with Dian!”

Perfection of character was a fundamental point. My ambition, like Dian, is to see all of nature in its proper place, including myself. This is idealism. This means Dian’s professional achievements would also be at a higher level than the other three whose ambitions are purely professional, nothing more.

It resonates with my belief that any advancement in whatever our undertaking in life starts with perfection of our own character. It has to start within our inner heart. So when I heard of Dian’s ambition, let me be the second person to say “I am with Dian!”


Removal of Sarahah apps from the Play Store: A Larger Perspective


The recent news of removal of Sarahah apps, the controversial mobile application that allows bullies to send hurtful messages is a victory to concerned mothers who presented the petition to Sarahah for removal of the application from the Apple and Google Play Store. To me, it tells of an underlying message for young people and teenagers.

Petitions have once again proved to be a powerful tool of request for a change. What begins as a tool of request to the government officials in the ancient times has metamorphosed into a powerful tool of request used by individuals today towards a cause. Putting down our signature on a petition is akin to hearing out our voice.

As a mobile application, Sarahah does not need much introduction. It was developed with the original intention of letting users express honest comments to their recipients. However instead of encouraging constructive comments, Sarahah became a conducive space for cyberbullies to send hateful messages to their targets while hiding behind the wall of anonymity. Teenagers and young people on the receiving end, seem to be perturbed by the messages. Underlying this phenomenon is the fragility of our young people.

Perhaps due to their age and having overprotective parents, teenagers and young people have high level of sensitivity and self-consciousness to negative comments from their peers. The more they are upset or reacted negatively to the hateful messages, the more motivated are the cyberbullies. The situation is the same in schools, the more the bullies see the victim being victimized, the more they become aggressive.

Removing a mobile application is only a short-term victory. It does not stop another similar application from coming up to the Play Store. A teenager growing up may still face real world bully at workplace or in a relationship. This is a question of reality. Dealing with bullies requires action from within us. Learn the psychology of a bully. Once this is understood, it becomes easier for a teenager to deal with a cyberbully. The best thing that a teenager or young people can do when receiving hateful messages, is to ignore them. Our self-worth comes from ourselves, not from these bullies.

At the same time, internet users need to be reminded of their responsibilities to other users. The Internet is a world wide web but the web is not theirs alone. They are sharing space with other users. Knowing that their every action and words may make or break other users, courtesy is the best policy when using the internet. Those cyberbullies sending hateful messages behind the wall of anonymity are no heroes. If they really have the guts, come out to meet the targets, say it out loud to them and give their line of reasoning.

The victory is way to go for mothers and young people, but the worst is still far from over. Sarahah is only a tool to bully. Cyberbullies still exist and there are real world bullies as well. How to deal with them requires a continuous effort from the authorities, parents, society and of course, teenagers and young people themselves.

Stay and Injunction: By Contradistinction


A lawyer was admitted as advocate and solicitor in High Court of Sabah and practiced in Sabah using work permit. He wanted to belong to Sabah, so he applied for an obtained an entry pass, valid for 2 years. If he fulfils the requirement to reside in Sabah for 2 years, he will fulfil the requirement to belong to Sabah. Just few weeks before expiry of the pass, his pass was revoked and he was issued a special pass instead, valid for 7 days only, after which he has to leave Sabah. He applied for stay of the effect of the decision by authority to revoke his entry pass.

A licensee was granted a temporary occupation license (TOL) to operate and mine ‘rare earth oxides and carbonates’ in the Gebeng Industrial area. The applicants sought to quash the TOL and to stay and injunct the issuance of TOL and the exercise of rights under TOL.

An applicant sought for an order of certiorari to quash the decision of the relevant authority to construct an alignment to a road which is said to be near to the properties of the applicants, and an order to stay the construction of the alignment pending disposal of the review application.

Three scenarios, one thing in common – the applicants in these scenarios applied for an order of stay but with different outcomes.

In the first scenario, the applicant survived the axe of deportation from Sabah at the Court of Appeal who reversed the decision of the High Court refusing an order of stay but only to find it reversed again at the Federal Court. The second and third scenarios were not so promising though, where courts formed the opinion that stay in the case amounts to an injunction against the Government under Section 29(2) of the Government Proceedings Act 1956.

Stay and injunction are two different reliefs, though line differentiating the two has been demonstrably difficult to discern. If even judges got them mixed up, what more parties and their lawyers.

General principles of stay in judicial review proceedings

Judicial review

A decision made by an officer or minister as well as other decision-making bodies can in principle be stayed by an order of court pending conclusion of a challenge to the decision-making power by way of judicial review. This is illustrated in R v Secretary of State for Education and Science, ex parte Avon Country Council[1] and the local decision of YAM Tunku Dato’ Sri Nadzruddin ibni Tuanku Ja’afar v Datuk Bandar Kuala Lumpur & Anor[2].

The power of a High Court to grant an order of stay is provided for in Order 53 Rule 3(5) of the Rules of Court 2012 which reads, albeit not expressly stipulated:

“The grant of leave under this rule shall not, unless the Judge so direct, operate as a stay of the proceedings in question”.

When applying for an order of stay under rule 3(5) above, the stay would have the effect of temporarily suspending the effect of the public law decision pending the outcome of the certiorari or prohibition challenging the public law decision. It therefore preserves the status quo by suspending the proceedings under challenge and preventing implementation of the impugned decision.[3]

A better attempt to define an order of stay is as stated in the following passage in the decision of SC Aggrawa J in Shree Chamundi Mopeds Ltd v Church of South Indian Trust Association, Madras:[4]

“While considering the effect of an interim order staying the operation of the order under challenge, a distinction has to be made between quashing of an order and stay of operation of an order.

Quashing of an order results in the restoration of the position as it stood on the date of the passing of the order which has been quashed.

The stay of operation however does not lead to the same result. It only means the order which has been stayed would not be operative from the date of passing of the stay order and it does not mean that the said order has been wiped out from existence.”

Principles applicable for a grant of stay in judicial review proceedings are similar to the granting of an application for interlocutory injunction as illustrated in the decision of Godfrey Philips (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd v Timbalan Ketua Pengarah Kesihatan (Kesihatan Awam) Kementerian Kesihatan, Malaysia.[5]

Therefore, for a court to grant a stay, the onus is on an applicant to establish the following: [a] that he/she is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a stay order; [b] that balance of equity (or known as balance of convenience) tips on his/her favour; [c] that a stay order is in public interest.

This is the difference in public law cases where a broader consideration of the ‘public interest’ which the public body exists to protect will be required rather than merely the narrow interests of the parties.

General principles of an injunction in judicial review proceedings

What by birth is a private law remedy, the injunction has now evolved its application on the public law domain as well. The principles applicable in considering an application for an injunction under public law are similar with those in private law. Nevertheless, courts have been very reluctant in granting injunction against public authority which is said to have the effect of granting injunction against Government, prohibited by the Government Proceedings Act 1956[6] and the Specific Relief Act 1950.[7]

In the second and third scenarios above, once again it was decided that granting of an order for stay would amount to an injunction. Section 29(2) of the Government Proceedings Act 1956 which have been oft-quoted to shield public authorities is reproduced as follows:

“The court shall not in any civil proceedings grant any injunction or make any order against an officer of the Government if the effect of granting the injunction or making the order would be to give a relief against the Government which could not have been obtained in proceedings against the Government.”

Notwithstanding the ratio in the Supreme Court of Lim Kit Siang v United Engineers (M) Bhd[8] regarding injunction against government, the word “civil proceedings” in Section 29(2) is defined in the same Act[9]which refers to any proceedings of a civil nature before a court but does not include proceedings under Chapter VIII of the Specific Relief Act 1950 or such proceedings as would in England be brought on the Crown side of the Queen’s Bench Division. Proceedings that can be brought on the Crown side of the Queen’s Bench Division include prerogative relief such as certiorari and prohibition. Therefore, such proceedings should not be considered as civil proceedings for purposes of Government Proceedings Act.

Balance of convenience

In considering whether there are serious issues to be tried, focus is on an applicant to demonstrate serious and irreparable harm if stay is not granted. This serious and irreparable harm must outweigh the harm to the respondent if stay is to be granted. In essence, the balance of convenience must tip in favor of the applicant. As to adequacy of damages, unless the public authority is able to show the damages it has to bear if stay is granted, adequacy of damages is less likely to be issue in public law cases as breach of public law cases does not necessarily give rise to a claim in damages.

In the third scenario above involving the construction of an alignment of a road by public authority, the applicants fail to tip the balance in their favor. The company that was appointed to construct the alignment road demonstrated that they would suffer irreparable harm to its reputation and finance if there is a delay to the project as it is subject to payment of LAD interest on daily basis and that there are other parties working on the area. An order of stay would affect these third parties’ work as well as create more disruption to road users or possible flooding. In contrast, the applicants have not demonstrated how irreparable are the damage to their properties due to the construction. Even if the applicants manage to show damage to their properties, that only reflects the private interest. Where public interest is involved, the balance of convenience must be tilted in favor of the public in general as against the private interest of the applicants.

Similar in the decision of Godfrey, the balance of convenience too tips heavily against granting of interim injunction. Where the need to protect public health in smoking outweighs the severe losses and damage likely to be suffered by the applicant as well as loss of reputation. Mohd Zawawi Salleh J made an interesting remark at paragraph [30] of the Godfrey’s decision:

“The likelihood of harm to the public’s health stemming from smoking is not disputed by the applicant. The harm to the public’s health is irreparable. The harm, by its nature, can seldom be adequately remedied by money damages and is often permanent or at least of long duration, ie irreparable. If such harm is sufficiently likely, therefore, the balance of harm will usually favor the refusal of stay and/or prohibition order to protect the public”.


Notwithstanding the similarity of principles in applying for stay and injunction, the effect between the two are not similar. In fact, Justice Gopal Sri Ram has made a good attempt to draw a line when he said:[10]

“By contradistinction, an injunction is directed at a party to a proceeding restraining him from doing or requiring him to perform a particular act. Put in another way, an injunction acts in personam, a stay does not.”

In learning the difference, drafting of the prayer therefore becomes crucial. An applicant should be careful to craft his prayer in such a way as to stay the effect of decision to be impugned rather than to stop or prevent public bodies from the performing an act. It is not a play on semantics. One acts in personam, the other does not.


[1] [1991] 1 ALL ER 289

[2] [2003] 1 CLJ 210

[3] R(H) v Ashworth Hospital Authority [2003] 1 WLR 127

[4] AIR [1992] SC 1439, 1444

[5] [2011] 9 CLJ 670

[6] Section 29(2)

[7] Section 55

[8] [1987] CLJ (Rep) 170

[9] Section 2, Government Proceedings Act 1956

[10] Sugumar Balaskrishnan v Pengarah Immigresen Negeri Sabah & Anor & Anor Appeal [1998] 3 CLJ 85

Updates of Rules of Court 2012 w.e.f March 1, 2018

As civil litigation practitioners going to court day in day out, Rules of Court 2012 is like a bible for us. Amendments are coming soon, so let’s get familiar with the updates so that we advice clients accordingly. The 4 new provisions under the Rules are as follows:

  1. Proceeding as a pauper


Pauper is a poor person. To sue, defend and continue a proceeding in court as a pauper, he must apply to court for an order to proceed as a pauper and he must affirm that he has property less than RM1000 in value.

No court fees will be charged to a pauper, even any solicitor acting for the pauper cannot take fees, though Court may order payment to the solicitors out of the monies received by pauper if he wins the case. Pauper cannot discharge his solicitor without leave of court and neither can his solicitor discontinue their service without providing reasonable grounds to Court.

2.  E-lelong system


E-lelong, an online property auction conducted by courts for sale of foreclosed properties, is now regulated under Order 13A of the ROC. With e-lelong, bidders can bid online instead of showing up in court to bid. User however needs to be registered to use this system.

Court may order that the foreclosed property be sold by way of e-lelong system and give directions to effect sale including uploading of notice of auction in e-lelong website. Under e-lelong system, a 3% of reserve price will be charged as execution fee.

3.  Set aside, stay and enforce an adjudication decision (Order 69A)


Sections 15, 16 and 28 of the CIPAA do not state the mode and manner of making an application to the High Court, hence the new Order 69A of ROC to provide for the mode and manner of application.

Setting aside is by way of an originating summons while stay is by way of a notice of application after filing of application to set aside. One may seek to enforce the adjudication decision as a judgement or order with permission of Court by way of an originating summons. Read further details in O69A for what is needed for affidavit in support when making such application.

4.  List of exempted laws (Appendix C)


Where legislation provide for specific mode and manner to make an application to court, the general rules contained in the Rules of Court do not apply.

Under the amended rules, there are 15 types of proceedings governed under specific written law, for example, matrimonial proceedings are governed under Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) Act 1976. Mode and manner of proceedings are contained the Act and its Rules.

#RulesofCourt2012  #RuleUpdates