Ex-Sabah CM has no right to stop RCI on judicial interference, govt says

Former Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee says he was advised that only a tribunal can investigate judicial misconduct.

PETALING JAYA: The government says former Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee does not have the legal standing to stop the government from setting up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to investigate allegations of judicial interference.

An affidavit affirmed by senior federal counsel Alice Loke said Yong had given no reasonable cause of action to warrant the reliefs sought.

Loke said Yong had likewise failed to demonstrate how he had been affected by the government’s decision to set up the RCI.

In the document sighted by FMT, she said Yong must show that he had suffered damage or injuries.

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

Loke said an RCI under the Commission of Enquiry Act 1950 had yet to be set up.

“The declaration sought is based on matters which Yong is speculating that the RCI is inquiring into. This court ought not to entertain applications of such nature,” she said in the affidavit filed last week.

In any event, she said the legal position is that matters which the RCI inquires into and consequently its findings and recommendations are not subject to judicial challenge.

“Further, an RCI would not prevent an investigation by the appropriate authorities. If the allegation in the affidavit of Hamid discloses the commission of offences, the relevant enforcement agencies can proceed to conduct investigations,” she said.

As such, Loke said Yong’s application is scandalous, frivolous and vexatious and an abuse of process.

She urged the court to strike out the originating summons with costs.

In his action filed on April 29, Yong sought a declaration that Putraya’s decision to set up the RCI was unconstitutional and in breach of the principle of separation of powers.

He said he was advised that only a tribunal could investigate the judicial misconduct of judges

“There is no provision in the Commission of Enquiry Act to investigate the judicial branch of government. Setting up the RCI would be interference by the executive branch of government in the judiciary,” he said.

Hamid, a Court of Appeal judge, made several allegations in a 65-page affidavit filed on Feb 14 in support of an application by lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo to declare that the chief justice had failed to defend the integrity of the judiciary in court cases.

Yong’s suit is scheduled to be heard in the Kota Kinabalu High Court on July 2.