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Hajiji says Sabah govt's stand is more than an aspiration, respects SLS's role on 40pc revenue
Published on: Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Hajiji says Sabah govt's stand is more than an aspiration, respects SLS's role on 40pc revenue
Hajiji stressed that this includes the State’s claim for the “lost years,” for which no review was conducted from 1974 until recently. 
Kota Kinabalu: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor reaffirmed, Friday, that the State Government will never give up Sabah’s fundamental constitutional rights in relation to the 40 per cent net revenue special grant under Articles 112C and 112D of the Federal Constitution. 

“This fact was reinforced by the Prime Minister in his 2023 budget speech when he recognised and confirmed that the Federal Government is committed to improving the rate of the special grant compared to what was previously agreed and will expedite the negotiations to find a solution,” he said in a statement. 

“This critical issue is now under the purview of the MA63 Technical Committee chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister. 

“We will continue to defend Sabah’s constitutional rights in relation to the existing revenue sharing formula, and the Federal Government must respect this.”  

He stressed that this includes the State’s claim for the “lost years,” for which no review was conducted from 1974 until recently. 

“For now, there is an interim arrangement – on a without prejudice basis – where the State receives much more than before pending further negotiations between the State and Federal Governments to claim what is rightfully due to the State. 

“Pending the ongoing negotiations, the interim amounts have increased from RM125.6 million in 2022 to RM260 million announced in January 2023 to RM300 million in July 2023. 

“While this falls short of what is expected, we have been committed and consistent in seeking more from the Federal Government than ever before,” he said. 

Hajiji also said that the State Government respects the Sabah Law Society’s (SLS) right to commence legal proceedings on the matter. 

“We recognise the important role of public interest litigation in promoting the rule of law towards fair and equitable administration of justice. 

“The State Government sees the initiative by SLS in a positive light that is not partisan and not political in the common furtherance of the constitutional arrangements when Sabah formed Malaysia in 1963. 

“I do not want to prejudge the outcome of the Court of Appeal, but I share the same sentiment as the rakyat and hope that any decision will be favourable to the State. 

“I have already instructed the State Attorney-General to scrutinise and review the ongoing legal proceedings and, if necessary, to correct any misguided statement that differs from the State’s clear and formal position. 

“Notwithstanding the ongoing proceedings in the Court of Appeal - we maintain the official demand of the State Government that the Federal Government is legally and constitutionally obligated to compensate the State of Sabah for what is lawfully due as a special grant, both historically and for the future.” 

He said this State right was negotiated prior to Malaysia’s formation and is enshrined in the Federal Constitution. 

“It is the financial entitlement of the State. This stand is very much more than an aspiration. 

“If there is no agreement or solution between the State and the Federal Governments on the special grant, we will activate the constitutional provision to appoint an independent assessor to determine this issue and decide what the Federal Government is obligated to pay Sabah. 

“I assure the rakyat that we will not stop in our relentless pursuit of all the State rights due under MA63 and the Federal Constitution. This is our uncompromising and absolute position,” he said. 

The SLS filed a judicial review against the Federal Government’s failure to review the 40 per cent special grant due to Sabah under the Federal Constitution. SLS obtained leave on June 8, 2022.

The Society filed the leave application on June 9, 2022, naming the Federal and State governments as the first and second respondents, respectively.

However, the Federal Attorney-General appealed against the High Court’s decision on Nov 11, 2022, to grant leave to SLS.

On Thursday, the Court of Appeal reserved its decision on the federal Attorney-General’s appeal against leave granted to the Sabah Law Society (SLS) regarding the State’s special grant.

Court of Appeal Justices Datuk Ravinthran N Paramaguru, Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali and Datuk Dr Choo Kah Sing adjourned their decision after hearing submissions from all parties. The court set May 24 for case management.

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