KOTA KINABALU: Sabah opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan believes Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew should take leave from her ministerial work immediately due to her on-going land grab court case.
In a statement here today, Kitingan said he is of the view that as a lawyer, Liew should respect the court’s decision with regards to the case in which she and two others were declared liable for RM557 million.
The Federal Court on Monday dismissed an application by Liew to introduce fresh evidence in her appeal against the High Court’s decision in ordering her and two others to pay RM577 million in damages in a land grab suit in 2014.
A five-member Federal Court bench led by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat dismissed the application by Liew and Samsuri Baharuddin and ordered them to pay costs of RM30,000.
“Since her appeal to submit fresh evidence has been rejected and the amount of the judgement against her exceeds more than half a billion ringgit, she should honourably take leave from her work until the case is resolved,” Kitingan said.
“It is a standard procedure in law which requires that when a member of the legislative assembly is fined more than RM2,000 for an offence, he or she should resign.
“The massive amount of liability weighing on her shoulders automatically disqualifies her as an assemblyman,” the Keningau MP contended.
The Tawau High Court had ruled on Sept 30, 2014 that Liew and two others had unlawfully induced a group of smallholders to breach their joint venture agreement with Borneo Samudera, a subsidiary of state-owned Sawit Kinabalu.
The other two were Samsuri, the attorney for a group of 819 smallholders in the Bagahak smallholders’ scheme, and Siti Rahfizah Mihaldin, Liew’s former clerk.
Justice Chew Soo Ho awarded RM557 million in damages to Borneo Samudera after ruling that it had proven the requisite conditions in law of inducement of breach of contract.
Liew, the appointed representative of the group, and her lawyers filed a notice of appeal against the decision.
Kitingan said Chief Minister Shafie Apdal should advise Liew to vacate her Cabinet position immediately.
“If that is not done, the state government will be reinforcing the public perception that it is a government which has no respect for the law,” he said.
“This disrespect for court decisions was given a dangerous precedent when the chief minister advised the director of the Water Department to continue working although the court had ruled that his appointment was unlawful,” he said, referring to the Amarjit Singh case.