Court stops ex-CM’s bid to stop RCI into judicial misconduct

Yong Teck Lee.

PETALING JAYA: The High Court in Kota Kinabalu has struck out a suit by former Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee to stop the government from setting up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to investigate allegations of judicial interference.

Judge Ismail Berahim, who made the ruling in his chambers yesterday, said the suit was untenable as it based purely on conjecture and speculation.

The judge also ordered Yong to pay the government RM3,000 in costs.

Senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan, who appeared with Andi Razalijaya A Dadi, said the judge accepted the arguments put forward by Putrajaya.

Lawyers Lawrence Thien and Valery Lim represented Yong.

Last month, the government in its application to annul the suit, said Yong did not have the legal standing to stop the setting up of the RCI.

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.

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 on, that the RCI is inquiring into. This court ought not to entertain applications of such nature,” she said in the affidavit.

In his action filed on April 29, Yong sought a declaration that Putrajaya’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.