Sarawak lawyers to challenge High Court registry shift from Kuching

Sarawak lawyers Dominique Ng (second from right) and Voon Lee Shan (second from left) after the press conference outside Kuching High Court.

KUCHING: Several Sarawakian lawyers say they are looking into the possibility of challenging the decision on the relocation of the Sabah and Sarawak High Court registry office from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu.

“This (the decision to relocate the registry) has the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong but we are contemplating seeking an application of judicial review or filing an originating summons,” Dominique Ng said.

The relocation of the registry comes into effect today (Nov 15) after the Sarawak government had reached a “compromise” agreement with Putrajaya that the registry would be based alternately in Kuching and Kota Kinabalu on a 10-year rotation system.

This followed a Nov 12 meeting between the chief registrar of the Federal Court of Malaysia, senior members of the judiciary and Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg to obtain Sarawak’s consent over the relocation of the registry.

Ng said the registry was a symbol of Sarawak’s judicial system as it existed even before the formation of Malaysia.

“We are not only talking about the administrative part of it. We are talking about what ought to be the basic fundamental right of Sarawakians. How can they just come in and move it?

“I’m given to understand that the chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak has agreed with the relocation of the registry. I can’t blame him since he’s a Sabahan.

“But as a Sarawakian, I consider that as not being fair to us,” he told reporters at a press conference here today.

Ng said the state government might have given its consent for the relocation of the registry from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu but Sarawakians should not give up on the matter so easily.

“Abang Johari had given the consent. Perhaps, he was under pressure but I don’t think we should give up easily like what had happened to our oil and gas (rights) in the past.

“This is another argument in our favour on why we should be independent. If we are not independent, those from Malaya would continue making decisions for us without a proper agreement or consent,” he said.

Meanwhile, another practising lawyer, Voon Lee Shan, who is also the president of Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK), has expressed his disappointment with Abang Johari for reaching a “compromised” agreement with Putrajaya.

He described the relocation of the registry as a form of disrespect to Sarawakians.

“We expected Abang Johari to be firm in all negotiations, especially issues involving the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“The chief minister should be protecting the interests of the state.

“Also, for those Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders, please tell your ‘bosses’ (about the issue concerning the relocation of the registry). Don’t be quiet. You’re Sarawakians,” he said.