High Court registry relocation to Sabah unconstitutional, says Sarawak CM’s Office

The Sarawak Chief Minister’s Office said there was no consultation between Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg on the relocation of the High Court principal registry to Sabah. — Bernama pic
The Sarawak Chief Minister’s Office said there was no consultation between Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg on the relocation of the High Court principal registry to Sabah. — Bernama pic

KUCHING, April 22 — The Sarawak Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) today claimed the relocation of the Sabah and Sarawak High Court principal registry from here to Kota Kinabalu has contravened the Federal Constitution.

It confirmed that there was no consultation between Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg on the relocation, emphasising that the consultation was a mandatory requirement under Article 121(4) of the Federal Constitution.

“The state government strongly objects to this non-compliance with the rule of law and views this relocation as unconstitutional,” it said in a statement.

“Although the state government accepts the final decision in this matter rests with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the prime minister, it is imperative that the fundamental constitution process of the consultation be adhered to.

“The unconstitutional act, if not checked, will in future have wider repercussions on the rights of Sarawak under the Federal Constitution,” it said in reference to a circular issued by the Chief Registrar of the Federal Court Datuk Sri Latifah Mohd Tahar on the relocation effective May 1.

The CMO also took note of a statement by de facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong that the decision on the relocation 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 was concerned.

Liew had also said nothing physical moved except for the residence of the Registrar of the High Court.

The minister also noted that there was no law nor constitutional provision which stipulated the registry must remain in Kuching forever, saying that the registry had been seated in Sarawak for the past 55 years.