KUCHING: The Sarawak government has agreed that the Sabah and Sarawak High Court registry office be based alternately in Kuching and Kota Kinabalu on a 10-year rotation system.
Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg said the state government was initially against the relocation of the office, but that it eventually reached a “compromise”.
Yesterday, Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How moved an emergency motion for the Sarawak legislative assembly to reaffirm its decision against relocating the registry from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu.
This followed a Nov 12 meeting between the chief registrar of the Federal Court of Malaysia, senior members of the judiciary and Abang Johari to obtain Sarawak’s consent to the impending relocation on Nov 15.
However, the motion was rejected as Sarawak speaker Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar said under Standing Order 15 (2), the motion should have been submitted 24 hours before the day’s sitting.
Speaking after a dinner with Gabungan Parti Sarawak backbenchers here last night, Abang Johari said he was informed at the meeting that a decision had been made to move the registry to Kota Kinabalu.
Under Article 122B (1) of the Federal Constitution, the location of the registry is determined by the agong on the advice of the prime minister in consultation with the chief ministers of Sabah and Sarawak and the chief judge of the High Court.
See meanwhile maintained that the shift in location was unconstitutional, saying any decision should be made by the Conference of Rulers.
In May, several senior members of Sabah’s legal fraternity reportedly voiced disappointment with the decision of the Sarawak legislative assembly on April 30 protesting the relocation of the registry from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu.
They said both states have a shared constitutional right to the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak.
However, Sarawak tourism minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah speculated that the move could be part of an agenda to create a rift between the states.
“Sabah and Sarawak have always been very close, but during the amendment of Article 1 (2) of the Federal Constitution to restore their rights, they took different stands.
“There are ‘little hands’ doing things so that Sabah and Sarawak will fight,” he said.