Prior to the Order 53 of the Rules of Court 2012
coming into force, there were several principles that govern the locus standi
previously. Locus standi by definition simply means that an applicant must have
sufficient interest to apply for judicial review for that matter. As per quoted
by Tun Salleh Abas L.P as he was then, every legal system has a
built-in-mechanism to protect its judicial process from abuse by busybodies,
cranks and other mischief-makers by insisting that a plaintiff should have a
special interest in the proceeding which he constitutes. This special interest
is a nexus between him and the party against whom he brings his complainants to
court and is known as locus standi.
Reading judicial review in line with locus standi, it
must be taken into note that there was a traditional approach before the new
approach came into force. As for the traditional approach of judicial review,
it was not based on statutory but rather an inherent right of the courts. The
courts were not supposed to interfere with the merits of the decision as they
only have supervisory jurisdiction. The courts had no inflicted power upon them
to change decisions on their own and they were only allowed to review the
decision-making process and not the decision itself. As far as the current
approach is concerned, the courts are now able to critically analyse the merits
of the case and providing relief to the aggrieved party1.
It must be noted that prior to year of 2000 in
Malaysia, there was no statutory Enactment that defines locus standi. The
judges had the utmost discretion when it came to determining locus standi,
where there were procedures and rules laid down by them, which is prior to the
introduction of Order 53 of the Rules of Court 2012.
It is worth-noting that the law on locus standi has
not been interpreted consistently in Malaysia. There was an oscillation between
progressive and regressive jurisprudence in the field of judicial review in
Malaysia throughout the years prior to the introduction of Order 53 of the
Rules of Courts 2012 which formalized the concept of locus standi2.
The oscillation can be seen where Malaysian cases applied different approaches
in interpreting the concept of locus standi, which will be explained below.
Prior to 1988, the approach that was given during this
period was the liberal approach in which the approach is open to reformation
and new ideas and they are not confined by traditional approach or thinking.
This approach contributed to the development of the public interest litigation
In early 1980s, the remedies that were
most used during the traditional view on locus standi were mandamus and
certiorari whereby the statute governing these areas were the Specific Relief
Act. In determining whether one has locus standi to apply for judicial review,
the court must be satisfied that the applicant has sufficient interest in the subject
matter and that the action applies to be reviewed has affected his interest in
Applying the case of Lim Cho Hock v Government of the
State of Perak, Menteri Besar, State of Perak and President, Municipality of
the court emphasized that in line with the changes in judicial matters; it is
more towards a liberal scope of standing in matters related as to whether an
applicant has a locus standi. In this case, the public interest litigant whom
was a member of Parliament and State Assemblyman sought a declaration that the
appointment of Chief Minister as the President of Ipoh Munipal Council to be
void and null as the Chief Minister could not hold both positions at the same
time. Although he did not succeed in obtaining the declarations sought, he was
apparently instituting the action on behalf of the community and as a taxpayer
himself. This shows that the court applied liberal approach as he has
sufficient interest in the said matter relates to the appointment of president
of council. Thus, it can be said that the approach the court applied is on the
test of sufficient interest. As long as the applicant has sufficient interest
in the subject matter of the action, he has the locus standi to apply for
judicial review on the such matter.
Then came the case of Tan Sri Haji Othman Saat v Mohd
In this case, the court applied the ‘sufficient interest’ test whereby the
applicant for judicial review on declarations shall have sufficient interest in
applying as such. In addition to sufficient interest test, the principle
established is that an interest was with the applicant as a citizen to
challenge unlawful administrative actions or any actions against public
interest. In this case, the court recognized the liberalization of rule of
locus standi, where it was held that:
“We refer to Lim Cho
Hock v Government of the State of Perak & 2 Ors 1980 2 MLJ 148, and
accept and approve the discussion in the judgment in that case (at
1 Tan, M. (n.d.).
Notes on judicial review. online Academia.edu. Available at:
http://www.academia.edu/12987662/Notes_on_judicial_review Accessed 22 Jan.
P.J., & Lau, H. (2012). Public
Interest Litigation in Asia. London: Routledge, pg 84
3 Keong, D.
(2016). An Overview on the Public Interest Litigation in Malaysia:
Development and Dilemma Under Provision of Remedies for Enforcement of
Fundamental Rights. online Academia.edu. Available at:
Accessed 22 Jan. 2018.
4 T. R. (2004).
The Role of Public Interest Litigation in Promoting Good Governance in Malaysia
and Singapore. The Journal of Malaysian
Bar, 1(XXXIII). Retrieved January 22, 2018, from
5 1980 2 MLJ 148
6 1982 2 MLJ 177