Sabah too has right to house High Court Registry, Liew tells Sarawak

De facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong today said the relocation of the Registry of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu is purely a judicial decision. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
De facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong today said the relocation of the Registry of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu is purely a judicial decision. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 — De facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong today said the relocation of the Registry of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu is purely a judicial decision.

He said the decision was made by the country’s top four judges sometime last month, and that it changes nothing as far as the administration of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak is concerned.

“Nothing physical moves except for the residence of the Registrar of the High Court,” Liew said in a statement.

Noting that there is no law nor constitutional provision which stipulates the registry must remain in Kuching forever, Liew said the registry has been seated in Sarawak for the past 55 years.

“In fact, it is to the contrary as provided in Article 121 (4) of the Federal Constitution. Impliedly Sabah too has its right to house the Registry,” Liew said.

He explained when the new Kota Kinabalu Court Complex became ready for occupation late last year, former Chief Judge Tan Sri Richard Malanjum felt it was time for Sabah to house the registry.

“This idea was put to the top management who also agreed. However, the Advocates Association of Sarawak flatly rejected the idea.

“Last March, the Chief Judge wrote to the Prime Minister for permission to move the registry to Kota Kinabalu premised on several reasons which the Prime Minister consented,” Liew said, adding there is no financial implication to such a move.

Following this the Yang di-Pertuan Agong granted his royal assent to move the registry to Kota Kinabalu earlier this month, after which the Chief Registrar issued the circular of relocation on Friday.

The circular, which was sent to Malaysia’s legal bodies and fraternity, took many by surprise. Lawyers and lawmakers based in East Malaysia expressed their concern over the relocation, with some questioning the legality and constitutionality of the move.

Earlier today, Sarawak’s Assistant Law Minister Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali had insisted that the relocation of the registry must have prior consent of Sarawak’s Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg.

She told reporters in Kuching that this was the mandatory requirement under Article 121(4) of the Federal Constitution that the chief minister must be consulted and gives his consent prior to the relocation.

“I believe the chief minister has not been consulted or have given his consent on the relocation,” she said

“Now, they (Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government) suddenly want to move to Kota Kinabalu. We don’t know the reasons, but if they want to move, the state government and the chief minister must be consulted and give their consent.

“Otherwise, it is not constitutional. It is against the rule of law which the PH federal government must comply with,” she said.