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Chief Minister’s public stand timely: Ex-Sabah Law Society head
Published on: Monday, May 20, 2024
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Chief Minister’s public stand timely: Ex-Sabah Law Society head
Roger believed a robust legal framework is essential for a Malaysia that upholds fairness and justice for its citizens as well as stand ready to collaborate with the State Government in its ongoing efforts to secure financial entitlements through negotiations or, if necessary, by activating the constitutional provision for an independent assessor.
Kota Kinabalu: Former Sabah Law Society (SLS) President Datuk Roger Chin commended Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor’s reaffirmation of the State Government’s commitment to uphold the State’s constitutional right to the 40 per cent net revenue special grant.

“The Chief Minister’s acknowledgement of the importance of SLS’s legal action in promoting the rule of law and ensuring a just outcome for Sabah underscores the significance of public interest litigation in safeguarding the rights of all Malaysians.

“The public will share the Chief Minister’s hope for a favourable decision from the Court of Appeal for Sabah.

“I am sure SLS will fight all the way to the Federal Court if necessary, for the people of Sabah in its pursuit of this case,” he said in a statement, Sunday.

Roger believed a robust legal framework is essential for a Malaysia that upholds fairness and justice for its citizens as well as stand ready to collaborate with the State Government in its ongoing efforts to secure financial entitlements through negotiations or, if necessary, by activating the constitutional provision for an independent assessor.

Recently, the Court of Appeal heard an appeal by the Attorney General of Malaysia challenging the leave granted to SLS which is seeking a judicial review against both the Federal and State governments concerning the Review Order 2022, which centres on Sabah’s Special Grant (40pc constitutional entitlement) which was heard on May 16.

The case has captured public attention due to the legal issues surrounding locus standi and justiciability.

“Before the appeal proceedings commenced, the Court of Appeal deliberated on the intervener application of the State Government in the case. 

“SLS raised objections to the intervention, citing inconsistencies in the State Government’s position, now intervening as a respondent despite requesting to be added as a co-appellant back in July 2023. 

“Despite these objections, the Court, in the interest of justice, granted the State Government’s application to intervene as a second respondent. 

“The Attorney-General, acting in their capacity as the guardian of public interest, argued that the dispute over the Sabah Special Grant falls within the exclusive domain of the Federal and State governments. 

“They contended that issues concerning the grant, as outlined under Articles 112C and 112D of the Federal Constitution, involve non-legal factors and are matters for negotiation between the governments, thus lying beyond the jurisdiction of the court,” he said.

Roger said, in contrast, SLS asserted that the failure to conduct a review in 1974 and account for the 48-year period between 1974 and 2021 (termed ‘the Lost Years’) constituted a breach of constitutional duty.

SLS argued that this breach is justiciable, emphasising the Court’s role in upholding constitutional provisions and ensuring government accountability.

“The State Government aligned with SLS’s position on justiciability, emphasising that breaches of constitutional duty are justiciable. 

“However, they drew a line stating that the amount of the grant is a matter for negotiation between the two governments.

They stated that the 40pc special grant revenue, as seen under Article 112C, is aspirational, designed as a goal rather than an absolute right enforceable by mandamus.

“The Attorney-General maintained that the legal interest in the case lies solely with the two governments, dismissing SLS’s involvement.

“Conversely, SLS argued for their locus standi based on public interest litigation criteria, which they believe have been met. They contended that the duty outlined under Article 112C is of paramount public importance, and a breach of this duty warrants judicial intervention,” he said.

Roger said the State Government supported the Attorney-General’s position regarding locus standi and opposed SLS on the issue, moving away from their previous position in the High Court where they were silent on this matter. 

After thorough deliberation, the Court of Appeal reserved its decision and scheduled a case management session for May 24. 

“The decision, eagerly anticipated by legal experts and public alike, holds significant implications for the relationship between the Malaysian Government and the people of Sabah,” said Roger, adding that it underscores the importance of upholding constitutional rights and ensuring accountability in governance.

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