The Federal Court has upheld a Registrar of Societies decision to deregister Sarawak Nasional Party (SNAP).
A Federal Court five-member panel today upheld the Registrar of Societies’ (ROS) decision in 2002 to cancel SNAP’s registration, after the party failed to comply with a notice requiring it to produce evidence that its leadership crisis had been settled.
The court allowed ROS’ appeal to overturn the Court of Appeal’s decision in June 2010 restoring SNAP’s registration.
Federal Court judge Abdull Hamid Embong, who chaired the panel, held that ROS was empowered under Section 16 (1) of the Societies Act 1966 to direct a party to settle its dispute.
The ROS, he said, needed to form an opinion whether there was a dispute as quickly as possible or else the fate of a society would be left in limbo, and all its activities would have to be suspended.
“To make inquiries into those meeting as suggested by the respondent, SNAP’s then deputy president Justin Jinggut, would delay the whole process,” he said in his 25-paged judgment.
Justice Abdull Hamid said the decision to de-register SNAP was merely consequential to the failure of SNAP to comply with the ROS’ notice, adding that no reason was required under the law.
“There is no evidence of any bad faith or bias against SNAP when the ROS acted under section 13 (1) (c) (ix) (of the Societies Act). His (ROS) action is more administrative than quasi judicial, even though the rights of SNAP were affected,” he said.
The panel, also comprising Federal Court judges Suriyadi Halim Omar, Ahmad Maarop, Zaleha Zahari and Sulong Matjeraie, awarded ROS a sum of RM20,000 in legal costs.
SNAP, once a BN member
In 2002, the SNAP leadership was split into two factions, one led by its former president, the late James Wong Kim Min and the other by the late Peter Tinggom, the party’s former deputy president, who subsequently formed a new political party called the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP).
On Nov 5, 2002, the ROS deregistered SNAP after the party failed to comply with a notice issued by ROS requiring it to produce evidence that the crisis was settled.
SNAP’s then deputy president Justin Jinggut filed a judicial review of the ROS ruling, which was dismissed by the High Court on Sept 15, 2006.
On June 23 2010, the Court of Appeal restored the party’s registration after allowing Jinggut’s appeal to set aside the High Court’s decision.
On Feb 21, 2012, the Federal Court gave ROS the nod to appeal against the Court of Appeal.
Set up in 1961, SNAP was once a Barisan Nasional component in Sarawak. Its current president is Stanley Jugol.
ROS was represented by Senior Federal Counsel Amarjeet Singh while SNAP was represented by lawyer Khoo Guan Huat.