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Polls zones: Court bid fails
Published on: Thursday, May 16, 2019
By: Jo Ann Mool

KOTA KINABALU: The Court of Appeal on Wednesday dismissed the appeal by Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President Datuk Yong Teck Lee (pic) and six individuals against the High Court’s decision to reject their action to compel then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to table the Election Commission’s (EC) report on 13 new Sabah State Assembly seats in Parliament.

Court of Appeal Justices Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Datuk Yaacob Md Sam and Datuk Yew Jen Kie dismissed the appeal with RM5,000 cost after hearing submissions from both parties.

In their unanimous decision, the appellate court held that the declarations sought by the appellants in their originating summons are but a restatement in the duties of a PM provided under the Federal Constitution, relating to the submission of the Election Commission’s reports on delineation. Given that the appellants abandoned on the prayer for mandamus order…it was academic because no actual relief was sought by the appellants.

In their originating summons filed at the High Court on April 4, 2018, Yong and six others - Dato Shuaib Dato Mutalib, Edward Dagul, Japiril Suhaimin, Linggu @ Edward Bukut, Jovilis Majami and Anesthicia Usun - named then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and EC as the first and second defendants, respectively.

The plaintiffs sought, among others, a declaration that the PM shall present or table the report to Parliament as soon as possible after the report had been submitted to him.  The High Court had, on April 23, 2018, dismissed the plaintiff’s action, ruling that they had no locus standi to do so and that the issue was academic since Parliament had been dissolved on April 7 the same year, paving the way for the 14th general election.

Earlier, counsel Yong Yit Jee, who represented the plaintiffs together with counsel Ken Yong, submitted that it was a unique case about constitutional law and public interest where a single actor, due to his inaction, failure, neglect and/or refusal, has caused and will cause severe prejudice to Sabah people.

They raised four grounds in the appeal and, among others, submitted that the High Court judge erred in finding that the subject matter of the present case is academic and of no practical utility due to the dissolution of the House of Representative on April 7, 2018.

Senior Federal Counsel Azizan Md Arshad and Andi Razalijaya A Dadi, who acted for the respondents, submitted that the appeal must be dismissed with costs on the grounds, among others, that the matter had become academic. 

They submitted that the reason being that when the Dewan Rakyat was dissolved on April 7, 2018, there were no longer any members of the House.

“The report cannot be laid as there are no members before whom the report could be laid for a decision. The court does not act in vain. Any order compelling the Prime Minister to lay the report before the Dewan Rakyat was futile and would be of no utility,” they submitted.



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