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June 18 decision on federal govt's appeal over Sabah's 40% revenue legal challenge

Publish date: Fri, 24 May 2024, 06:31 PM

KOTA KINABALU (May 24): The Court of Appeal on Friday fixed June 18 to deliver its decision on the federal government’s appeal against the leave granted to the Sabah Law Society (SLS) to seek a judicial review regarding 40% grant revenue for Sabah.

Court of Appeal judges Datuk Ravinthran N Paramaguru, Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, and Datuk Dr Choo Kah Sing set the date during case management held online on Friday.

The federal government is appealing against the Kota Kinabalu High Court’s decision on Nov 11, 2022 to grant the SLS leave to seek a judicial review regarding the matter to compel the return of 40% of federal revenue earned from Sabah, according to the Federal Constitution.

On Nov 11, 2022, judge Datuk Ismail Brahim granted the SLS's application for leave, ruling that the SLS had locus standi for a judicial review as it was a public interest litigation.

The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) then obtained a stay order to stop the High Court from hearing the merits of the case pending the appeal.

The SLS filed the judicial review application in 2022 to overturn the federal government’s gazette of a RM125.6 million annual grant for Sabah, claiming that it violated Sabah's revenue rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Sabah Attorney General Datuk Nor Asiah Mohd Yusof said she appeared for the Sabah government in the proceedings, together with special legal adviser to the chief minister Datuk Brenndon Keith Soh, and Sabah government counsels Devina Teo and Roland Alik.

“The Court of Appeal was informed that Messrs FT Ahmad & Co has ceased to act for the government of Sabah, and that the Sabah AGC has taken over the full conduct and care of the matter,” she said in a statement here on Friday.

Nor Asiah said having scrutinised and reviewed this matter and the proceedings that had taken place, the Court of Appeal was informed of several subsequent positions by the Sabah government.

As the Sabah government did not appeal against the decision of the High Court dated Nov 11, 2022, it accepts the outcome as granted, namely that leave be granted for the matter to be ventilated on its merits in the substantive hearing of the judicial review application.

In addition, she said the Sabah government retracts all submissions made in the Court of Appeal on the issue of locus standi of the SLS, as this was not advanced nor submitted in the High Court by the Sabah government.

The Sabah government also retracts a submission made in the Court of Appeal, referring to Articles 112C and 112D of the Federal Constitution as being ‘an aspiration’, and not a mandatory or absolute right of Sabah.

Nor Asiah said the Court of Appeal had recorded these positions.

“I assure the public that the Sabah AGC is fully committed, and will continue to remain steadfast for the people of Sabah to uphold its constitutional rights as outlined in the MA63 and the Federal Constitution,” she said.

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