21/08/2020 03:19 PM

KOTA KINABALU, Aug 21 -- The High Court today dismissed an application by 33 assemblymen for leave for a judicial review of the decision of the Yang Dipertua Negeri in dissolving the state legislative assembly on July 30.

Judicial Commissioner Leonard David Shim found that the second respondent in the case - Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal - had acted within the Sabah Constitution in requesting the first respondent - Sabah Yang Dipertua Tun Juhar Mahiruddin - to dissolve the state assembly.

"And the first respondent (Tun Juhar) had acted within the ambit of his constitutional power to dissolve the state assembly," he said when ruling on the matter today.

Almost immediately after the ruling was handed down, the 33 assemblymen filed an appeal against the High Court decision.

The 33 assemblymen are led by former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman, who is the assemblyman for Sungai Sibuga.

Shim also said that the proclamation to dissolve the state assembly was constitutional and valid.

In announcing the ruling today, he said the court looked into the substance rather than the form of the written request (letter by Mohd Shafie to Tun Juhar to dissolve the assembly).

The 33 applicants' contention is that the letter was invalid and incapable of invoking the Yang Dipertua Negeri's power to dissolve the state assembly, and therefore it was ultra vires the Sabah Constitution and justiciable.

However, Shim said he found that the decision to dissolve the state assembly and the proclamation were not amenable to a judicial review, thus non-justiciable.

The judicial commissioner also found that the 33 applicants had locus standi in that they had a real and genuine interest in the matter (Tun Juhar's decision to dissolve the assembly).

"After considering the affidavits, written and oral submissions (by the applicants' counsel), the applicants have met the threshold of locus standi,” he said.

The applicants were represented by a team of lawyers led by Tengku Fuad Ahmad, while Tun Juhar, Mohd Shafie and the third respondent, the Government of Sabah, were represented by Sabah Attorney-General Brenndon Keith Soh. Senior Federal Counsel Suzana Atan and S. Narkunavathy represented the Election Commission, the fourth respondent.

In their application for the leave for judicial review, Musa and the assemblymen backing him are seeking court orders to quash Mohd Shafie’s request to Tun Juhar to dissolve the assembly; quash the proclamation of the dissolution of the assembly; and quash the Sabah state government gazette notification on the dissolution.

The 33 elected representatives claimed on July 29 that they made up the majority in the state assembly and wanted Tun Juhar to swear in a new government, thus toppling the state government of Mohd Shafie.

Mohd Shafie, who is Semporna MP and incumbent assemblyman for Senallang, pre-empted Musa’s move by advising Tun Juhar to dissolve the state assembly which had 65 members at that time, 60 elected and five nominated. 

In July last year, the Dewan Rakyat approved a bill that provides for the Sabah state assembly to have 73 seats, 13 more than in the dissolved assembly.




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