Ex-Sabah CM files lawsuit to stop RCI on judicial misconduct

Former Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee.

KOTA KINABALU: Former Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee has initiated legal action to stop the government from setting up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to investigate allegations of judicial interference and misconduct.

Yong has filed an originating summons at the High Court here to seek a declaration that the decision by the federal government to set up the RCI is unconstitutional and in breach of the principle of separation of powers.

This would be in contravention of Article 125 of the constitution, he said.

“The purpose of this originating summon is to ensure that the Federal Constitution is adhered to and the judiciary is protected.

“I am advised that investigations into judicial misconduct can only be conducted by setting up a tribunal or a special committee of judges as provided for under Article 125 of the Federal Constitution.

“There is no provision in the Commission of Inquiry Act to investigate the judicial branch of government. Setting up the RCI will be an interference by the executive branch of government in the judiciary,” he said in a statement today.

Yong said he was also seeking, among other reliefs, a declaration that the decision to set up the RCI was tainted with conflict of interest.

He said this was because the Cabinet included members such as Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo, the brother of Sangeet Kaur Deo, whose application in another case first gave rise to the allegations by Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer of judicial misconduct in cases concerning the late Karpal Singh.

Besides that, he said Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran was also the former counsel in the M Indira Gandhi child conversion case, in which Hamid claimed he was reprimanded for his dissenting judgment.

“I am advised that, therefore, the Cabinet’s decision is tainted with conflict of interest to the extent of breaking the law,” Yong said.

On Feb 21, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Cabinet had agreed to set up an RCI to look into allegations of judicial misconduct after Hamid claimed abuse and interference in the judiciary.

He made the allegation in a 65-page affidavit filed on Feb 14 in support of an application by Sangeet to declare that the chief justice had failed to defend the integrity of the judiciary in court cases.

The government has yet to announce the composition of the RCI and the terms of reference.