Sunday, February 28, 2021

Court stands down to deliberate appeal against dissolution of Sabah assembly

If the court decides in favour of Musa Aman and the 32 other assemblymen, the case will be remitted to the High Court.

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The Court of Appeal stood down for 25 minutes at 3.45pm today for “serious deliberation” after hearing submissions on an appeal on the dissolution of the Sabah legislative assembly.

Justice Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, who led a three-member bench alongside justices Abu Bakar Jais and Supang Lian, said the panel needed time to deliberate the case.

The panel had heard submissions from counsel representing 33 assemblymen led by former Sabah chief minister Musa Aman.

They are appealing against the Kota Kinabalu High Court’s dismissal of their application for leave for a judicial review to challenge the decision of the Sabah governor to dissolve the state assembly on July 30.

The court also heard submissions from counsel representing the four respondents: Sabah Governor Juhar Mahiruddin, Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal, the Sabah government and the Election Commission (EC).

If the court decides in favour of Musa and the 32 other assemblymen, the case will be remitted to the High Court for a hearing on the merits of the judicial review application. Otherwise, the ruling of the High Court will stand.

Those dissatisfied with the ruling have a last avenue of appeal, to the Federal Court.

The hearing of submissions began yesterday with counsel Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin arguing the case for the 33 assemblymen.

Subsequently, Sabah Attorney-General Brenndon Keith Soh, acting for Juhar, and counsel Cyrus Das, appearing for Shafie and the state government, presented their arguments.

The court today continued hearing submissions by Das before hearing submissions by senior federal counsel Suzana Atan, who is acting for the EC.

It also heard Firoz’s reply to the respondents‘ arguments.

The High Court, in dismissing the application of the 33 assemblymen on Aug 17, ruled that Shafie had acted within the Sabah constitution in requesting that Juhar dissolve the state assembly.

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

In their application for leave for judicial review, Musa and the assemblymen backing him are seeking court orders to quash Shafie’s request for Juhar to dissolve the assembly, the proclamation of the dissolution of the assembly, and the 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. They also called on Juhar to swear in a new government which would oust that of Shafie.

Shafie, who is Semporna MP and incumbent assemblyman for Senallang, preempted Musa’s move by advising Juhar to dissolve the state assembly, which had 65 members at the time including five nominated assemblymen.

Following the dissolution of the state assembly, the EC set Sept 12 for nomination and Sept 26 for polling in what will be the 16th state election in Sabah.

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