Tue, 12 Dec 2023


Court strikes out suit to remove Sabah, Sarawak from Federation
Published on: Saturday, May 27, 2023
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Court strikes out suit to remove Sabah, Sarawak from Federation
The Kuching High Court struck out a suit by 12 plaintiffs seeking the withdrawal of Sabah and Sarawak from Malaysia. (Facebook pic)
KUCHING: The High Court here has struck out a suit by 12 plaintiffs to remove Sabah and Sarawak from the Federation of Malaysia as the pleadings do not disclose a reasonable cause of action.

Judicial Commissioner Alexander Siew said the suit, viewed as a whole, was unsustainable and misconceived.

He said the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the nation and both territories are part of the federation.

“Sabah and Sarawak cannot be (removed from) Malaysia without the necessary amendments to the Constitution.

“Any amendment to the Constitution also requires at least two-thirds support of Parliament and consent of both states,” he said when allowing Putrajaya’s application to annul the suit.

“This court cannot disregard or rewrite the Federal Constitution, which it would be guilty of doing if it were to grant the declarations being sought in this suit,” Siew added.

He ordered the plaintiffs to pay RM10,000 each to the federal and Sarawak governments.

Last December, senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan submitted that the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

Shamsul said the union in 1963 of the three territories which now form Malaysia – Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak — was the result of an international treaty.

In the suit, the plaintiffs sought a declaration that the Malaysia Agreement 1963 was void from the outset.

The plaintiffs were under a “grave misunderstanding” that they could push for Sabah and Sarawak to exit Malaysia through a court process, said Shamsul.

He said policy decisions were the business of the legislature and the executive.

Senior federal counsels Ahmad Hanir Hambaly, Liew Horng Bin and Zain Ibrahim and federal counsel Athina Sim also appeared for the Federal Government.

Counsels JC Fong, Nicholas Bowie Buyong and Khairul Kabir Abdul Kadir represented the Sarawak Government, which took a similar stand as Putrajaya.

In rebuttal, lawyer Voon Lee Shan said the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak “belonged to the people of the land”.

“The power of the legislature, the executive and the court comes from the people of the land who are supreme,” he said, adding that the judiciary had the necessary jurisdiction to adjudicate the plaintiffs’ claim.

Voon said the plaintiffs filed the suit on the grounds that Malaysia was illegally formed.

“This is not a dispute between international bodies or between countries,” he added.

Led by Dorus Katan Juman, the plaintiffs filed a writ and statement of claim last year, naming Putrajaya, and the British and Sarawak governments as defendants.

They sought damages for mental and emotional stress, as well as loss and damage from the unlawful or illegal acts of the three defendants, jointly and individually.

Shamsul said the British government was unrepresented as the plaintiffs did not serve the legal papers in accordance with the law.

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