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Doubts on State AG’s readiness for the tasks ahead
Published on: Monday, May 20, 2024
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Doubts on State AG’s readiness for the tasks ahead
Doubts on State AG’s readiness for the tasks ahead
Kota Kinabalu: SAPP called for a total revamp of the Sabah Attorney General Chambers in view of four pressing constitutional issues now facing Sabah.

Sabah Progressive Party President Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee these were the so-called Sulu claim, the Territorial Sea Act 2012, the legality of Jawatankuasa Desa Madani (JKDM) implementation only in Sabah and the recent fiasco over the chamber’s handling of Sabah’s 40pc constitutional entitlement.

The Nominated Assemblyman said in the Sulu claim the Madrid Court contended that Malaysia was not properly summoned (i.e. that the original summons to the Stampa arbitration was not done properly by procedure). 

“The same Madrid Court ordered that the proceedings to appoint a new arbitrator be restarted. 

“In other words, although Malaysia’s Law Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said has beaten Spanish Arbitrator Gonzalez Stampa, Azalina did not beat the Sulu case. 

“If the Sulu lawyers wish to do so, the entire arbitration process will restart. Is our Sabah AG ready? Or does Sabah leave everything to the Federal AG? 

“Don’t forget that a serious mistake in acknowledging the Sulu claim of the 1878 pajak was made by the then Federal AG (Tommy Thomas) based on wrong historical facts,” said Yong, an ex Chief Minister and himself a lawyer, in a statement, Sunday.

Secondly, he said, is the Territorial Sea Act 2012, which the Federal Government’s rebuttal to Terengganu shows that the Federal Government is similarly denying Sabah’s territorial sea limits under the British Order in Council 1954 and the Federal Constitution in defining the territory of the Malaysia federation. 

“This constitutional case has huge economic and financial implications to Sabah. This case will need top legal minds and strategists,” he said.

Thirdly, Yong said, is the unconstitutional interference in the administration of villages in Sabah by the Federal Government in arbitrarily forming ‘Jawatankuasa Desa Madani’ (JKDM) along party political lines. 

“Village administration is the third and lowest tier of government in our Malaysian federal system.  This third tier of government is the exclusive jurisdiction of the Sabah Government. What is going to be the legal advice of the AG to the Sabah government?” he asked.

Fourthly, Yong said, was the fiasco of handling of the Judicial Review case over Sabah’s 40pc net revenue entitlement under Articles 112C and 112D of the Federal constitution. 

“The judicial review application by the Sabah Law Society (SLS) in June 2022 received the support of the Sabah Government at the time (refer to Sabah Government press statements of 9 June 2022). 

“Surely, the Sabah AG Chambers have always been aware of the Sabah Government’s support of the SLS application for judicial review.

“AG (Sabah Attorney-General), where were you? My known fact is that nobody from the AG Chambers was with lawyer Tengku Datuk Fuad Ahmad at the Court of Appeal.

Where was the Sabah Attorney General? 

“Why was no lawyer from the Sabah AG Chambers assigned to be present at the Court of Appeal on 16 May 2024? Where was everyone?,” he asked.

As the Sabah Attorney General said in her statement (see main report), “the Sabah AG Chambers have been actively participating in all matters (relating to the 40% net revenue) together with the Sabah Ministry of Finance and the Federal government.”

“So, why was no lawyer from the Sabah AG Chambers present with Fuad at the Court of Appeal to firmly state the stand of the Sabah government on the 40pc net revenue claim?,” Yong said.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President Datuk Chin Su Phin said the buck stops at the Sabah Attorney-General Datuk Nor Asiah Mohd Yusof.

He said Nor Asiah, as the top legal advisor to the Sabah Government, should not have left it to an appointed legal counsel who may not have been properly instructed on the official stand and position of the State government.

He aid Nor Asian should take the responsibility for purportedly appointing a legal counsel to represent the Sabah Government on May 16 when the Court of Appeal here heard the Federal Government’s appeal against a Kota Kinabalu High Court decision to grant the SLS leave for judicial review on Putrajaya’s constitutional duty to pay the 40pc revenue to the State.

Chin said in the sudden last-minute intervention Fuad presented arguments which appeared to contradict the official stand of the State government regarding the 40pc special grant under Article 112C and 112D of the Federal Constitution.

Chin said six component parties of Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) had a meeting in which Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Haji Noor asserted that the State Government did not appoint Fuad as the legal counsel to represent the State Government on this matter. 

In fact, he was bewildered on why the State Attorney-General remained overseas during the hearing of such an important case that concerned the interests of Sabah. 

“It is not known if Fuad was appointed by the Sabah Attorney-General to represent the State government as the latter is currently overseas.

“This issue seems to be a political conspiracy to topple the GRS government and tarnish the reputation of our Chief Minister. 

“To date, we do not know who instructed Fuad to represent the State Government. But what he said in court contradicted the stand of the State Government and Chief Minister,” Chin said. 

He said the legal suit by the SLS represents the hopes and rights of the people of Sabah in claiming its longstanding entitlement under Article 112C and 112D of the Federal Constitution and must surely be commended for its efforts and time.

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