PETALING JAYA: The Kota Kinabalu Court of Appeal today affirmed a ruling to annul an application by former Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee to stop the government from setting up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to investigate allegations of judicial interference.
A three member bench chaired by Hanipah Farikullah said Yong’s suit was premature and speculative in nature. “We dismiss the appeal and affirm the decision of the High Court.”
The bench ordered no costs to the government as the issue was of public interest.
On July 24 last year, Kota Kinabalu High Court judge Ismail Brahim struck out Yong’s suit stating it was based purely on conjecture and speculation.
In June, the government in its application to annul the suit, said Yong did not have the legal standing to stop the RCI.
An affidavit affirmed by then senior federal counsel Alice Loke said Yong had given no reasonable cause of action to warrant the reliefs sought, adding that he had failed to demonstrate how he was affected by the decision to set up the RCI.
On April 29, Yong said that Putrajaya’s decision to set up the RCI was unconstitutional and in breach of the principle of separation of powers.
“There is no provision in the Commission of Enquiry Act to investigate the judicial branch of government. Setting up the RCI would be interference by the executive branch of government in the judiciary,” he said.
On Feb 21, then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Cabinet had agreed to set up an RCI to look into allegations of judicial misconduct, after senior judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer claimed abuse and interference in the judiciary.
Hamid had made several allegations in a 65-page affidavit filed on Feb 14 in support of an application by lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo to declare that the chief justice had failed to defend the integrity of the judiciary in court cases.
On Aug 11, the Judges’ Ethics Committee issued a show cause notice to Hamid for affirming the affidavit and to give an explanation in respect to remarks made in a recent judgement he delivered in a criminal appeal.
His lawyer, Joy Wilson Appukuttan, had told FMT that Hamid had been given a month to reply to the notice.