KOTA KINABALU: A Sabah PKR leader has come out in defence of party chairman Christina Liew over a call for her to go on leave because of a suit against her.
Sabah PKR disciplinary bureau chairman Sazalye Donol, who is also Kota Marudu branch chief, hit out at Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku president Jeffrey Kitingan for not being able to distinguish between a civil and criminal case.
Donol, who is also a practising lawyer, said that in the suit, over a land grab claim, the High Court had ruled in 2014 that Liew and two others must pay RM577 million in damages.
“This case is a civil matter, not criminal. Civil cases are subject to bankruptcy once they are resolved. But this case is still far from being over,” he said.
“If it is a criminal case, it is necessary for a minister to take leave or resign. Liew’s case has nothing to do with a criminal case,” Donol said.
He added that the kind of case Liew was facing would take a long time to be resolved in court.
Yesterday, Jeffrey had suggested that Liew, who is deputy chief minister, should take leave from her ministerial work immediately due to the on-going case.
Kitingan said that Liew, as a lawyer, should respect the court’s decision with regards to the case.
On Monday, the Federal Court 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.
Kitingan, who is MP for Keningau, said: “The massive amount of liability weighing on her shoulders automatically disqualifies her as an assemblyman.”
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 Baharuddin, the attorney for a group of 819 smallholders in the Bagahak smallholders’ scheme, and Siti Rahfizah Mihaldin, Liew’s former clerk.