Nothing in law states High Court Registrar must be in Sarawak, says minister

De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong.

KOTA KINABALU: De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong says there is nothing in law or in the constitution for the Registrar of the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak to remain in Kuching forever.

Liew said in fact it is to the contrary, as provided in Article 121 (4) of the Federal Constitution, which implies Sabah also has a right to house the registry.

“The decision to move the Registrar to Kota Kinabalu was made by the top four judges sometime in March this year. In essence, it is purely a judicial decision.

“Moving the Registrar to Kota Kinabalu changes nothing as far as the administration of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak is concerned.

“Nothing physical moves, except for the residence of the Registrar of the High Court.

“Since independence, it has always been in Kuching. So, for 55 years, the registry has been seated in Sarawak,” he said in a statement over the uproar to relocate the Registrar from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu.

The federal government is relocating the Registrar effective May 1, according to a circular leaked online.

Chief Registrar of the Federal Court Latifah Mohd Tahar announced the move in the circular dated April 19. It is believed to have been sent to the legal fraternity countrywide.

Former chief justice Richard Malanjum.

Liew said when the new Kota Kinabalu Court Complex was ready for occupation late last year, the former chief justice (CJ) Richard Malanjum thought the time had come for Sabah to house the Registrar.

“This idea was put to the top management, who also agreed. However, the Advocates Association of Sarawak flatly rejected the idea.

“Last March, the CJ wrote to the prime minister for permission to move the Registrar to Kota Kinabalu, premised on several reasons, which the PM consented to.”

Liew said thereafter the Yang di-Pertuan Agong granted his royal assent to move it to Kota Kinabalu in early April.

He said it was only after that the chief registrar issued the circular for the relocation on April 19.

“There is no financial implication involved in such a move.”