Separate High Court registries in Sarawak, Sabah up to Putrajaya, says MP

Santubong MP Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar doubts if a Private Member’s Bill will reach the debating stage. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: A Sarawak MP has conceded that it would not be possible for Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) to move a motion in the Dewan Rakyat to set up separate High Court registries in Sarawak and Sabah.

Santubong MP Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said he could not see GPS garnering two-thirds of the MPs’ support to amend the Federal Constitution for it to happen.

“Even If all Sarawak and Sabah MPs group together, it will still be up to the federal government to push through a bill to amend the constitution,” he told FMT.

Sarawak United Peoples’ Party secretary-general Milton Foo had proposed the setting up of a High Court in Sarawak with its own registry.

He urged GPS MPs to table a motion in the Dewan Rakyat, saying having separate High Courts in Sabah and Sarawak with their own registries would be in line with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

His proposal came in the wake of a decision by Putrajaya to base the Sabah and Sarawak High Court registry alternately in Kuching and Kota Kinabalu on a 10-year rotation system.

Sarawak lawyer Lim Heng Choo had also urged MPs from the two states to collaborate in tabling a motion to have a High Court registry in each of the two states.

This, he said, would streamline court administration in the states because each would then have its own registry, High Court and chief judge.

Wan Junaidi said: “The High Court registries are established based on the provision of Article 121(1)(a)(b) of the Federal Constitution, reflecting the judicial arrangements stipulated under Section 5 of the Act of Malaysia 1963 (Chapter 35) United Kingdom.

“Article 121(1) spells out that the location for the principal registry of the High Court for Sarawak and Sabah shall be determined by the Agong.

“Article 121(4), in determining the principal registry of the High Court of Sarawak and Sabah, states that the Agong shall act on the advice of the prime minister who shall consult the chief ministers of Sarawak and Sabah as well as the chief judge of the High Court of Sarawak and Sabah,” he said.

Under the present circumstances, he said, it would be difficult for the federal government to secure the support of two-thirds of the 222 MPs.

“A Private Member’s Bill will also not reach the debating stage under the present rules of the Dewan Rakyat,” he said.

Meanwhile, Batang Sadong MP Nancy Shukri said legal practitioners would know best if there was a need for separate High Court registries for Sarawak and Sabah.

“If they feel that it would serve them better, then it is for the Sarawak Advocates Association and the Sabah Law Society to push for the amendment to the Federal Constitution,” she said.