Sabah, Sarawak High Court registry relocation to Kota Kinabalu scrapped, says chief registrar

It is believed that the move not to relocate the principal registry could be related to the strong objections from the state government as Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg was not consulted on the matter. — Reuters pic
It is believed that the move not to relocate the principal registry could be related to the strong objections from the state government as Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg was not consulted on the matter. — Reuters pic

KUCHING, April 23 — The relocation of the principal registry of the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak from here to Kota Kinabalu will not be implemented, the Chief Registrar of the Federal Court Datuk Sri Latifah Mohd Tahar said in a circular today.

She did not give the reason for not relocating the registry to the Sabah state capital which was supposed to be effective from May 1.

“This office wishes to inform that the relocation of the principal registry of the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu will not be implemented on May 1, 2019,” she said in the circular.

Senior lawyer See Chee How, who is also PKR’s Lintang State Assembly, when contacted, said he does not know the reason for not relocating the registry to Kota Kinabalu.

See was among those in the legal profession who had objected to the relocation of the principal registry to Kota Kinabalu.

It is believed that the move not to relocate the principal registry could be related to the strong objections from the state government as Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg was not consulted on the matter.

The Sarawak Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), in a strongly worded statement yesterday, had said the failure to consult the chief minister was a breach of Article 121(4) of the Federal Constitution.

The CMO had said the chief ministers of Sarawak and Sabah must be consulted before any step was taken to relocate the registry from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu.

Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) secretary-general Datuk Sebastian Ting welcomed the decision to maintain the registry in Kuching.

“I am happy that the judiciary has taken the step not to relocate the registry from Kuching,” he said.

He urged de facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong to apologise to Abang Johari and the people of Sarawak for the breach in the Federal Constitution.

“I know that he is gentleman enough to do that,” he said.

Yesterday, Ting, a lawyer by profession, threatened to file court action against de facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the Malaysian government over the relocation.

Liew had defended the decision to move the principal registry to Kota Kinabalu, saying that Article 121(4) did not state that it must remain in Kuching permanently.

He also said that the relocation was the decision of the country’s top four judges.

Liew, who is de facto law minister, today confirmed being notified of the chief registrar’s decision not to relocate the registry as scheduled.

In a rare move, Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) today said it supported the state government’s protest against the proposed relocation.

Sarawak PH chairman Chong Chieng Jen said the federal government’s decision was unconstitutional as Abang Johari was not consulted.

“In the present issue, Sarawak Pakatan Harapan is on the same page and position as the Sarawak state government ie. the decision for the relocation has to be put on hold or even withdrawn,” Chong said in a statement.