Sabah’s 13 new seats: Opposition parties to appeal dismissal of suits

Yong Teck Lee speaking to the media after the court case. (Facebook pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Opposition outfits Gabungan Sabah (GS) and Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) are likely to appeal the High Court’s decision here today to dismiss their legal actions against the government over the issue of new state constituencies for Sabah.

Yong Teck Lee, president of GS component Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), and six members of the coalition had sought a declaration to compel Prime Minister Najib Razak to table the Election Commission’s (EC) redelineation report on Sabah’s 13 new seats in the Dewan Rakyat.

PCS president Wilfred Bumburing had meanwhile sought a court injunction to stop the Sabah state election over Najib’s alleged failure to table the report.

Judge Azahari Kamal Ramli, who heard the cases jointly, struck out their suits saying the plaintiffs had no locus standi and the issue was academic since Parliament had already been dissolved on April 7.

The state election is scheduled to take place during the 14th general election (GE14) on May 9, with nominations set to take place on April 28.

Yong said GS was likely to appeal the decision despite GE14 being close.

“Our lawyers are waiting for the written judgment and grounds for the decision,” Yong told FMT in a text message.

Bumburing said he disagreed that he had no locus standi, stressing that as a balloting citizen he had a right to seek such a declaration from the court.

“As the 13 new state seats are part of the state constitution, it is my right as a voting citizen to defend the sanctity of the constitution,” he told FMT.

He said he was informed by his lawyers that it may take a week to receive the written judgment which would not provide enough time to act, and they may have to do so after the polls.

“Our lawyers told us the judge had said we can appeal to a special election court, even after the election,” he said.

Bumburing added: “Our lawyer also told us that our important case is a precedent maker for the whole world.

“During their preparation, our lawyers searched for past cases like ours in countries that practise federalism like we do.

“They found none. We hope we’ll make something out of this case,” he said.

In his summons, Bumburing had wanted the court to order the Sabah state assembly to convene an emergency session to repeal the enactment that was passed in 2016 to increase the number of state seats from 60 to 73.

Bumburing’s lawsuit named the Sabah chief minister, state government, state assembly and EC as defendants.

The GS members who had joined Yong in seeking the declaration were SAPP vice-president Shuaib Mutalib, GS secretary Edward Dagul, Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) deputy president Edward Linggu, Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah (PHRS) Youth chief Jovilis Majami, SAPP’s EC matters committee chairman Japiril Suhaimin and Parti Perpaduan Rakyat Sabah (PPRS) executive secretary Anesthicia Usun.

The group had asked the court to declare that Najib was constitutionally obligated to table the EC report before GE14.

They had named Najib and the EC as defendants.

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