KOTA KINABALU, June 7 — Datuk Yong Teck Lee believes the federal government may have been ill-advised if it is really planning to apply to strike out his suit objecting to the establishment of a royal investigation into allegations of misconduct among judges.
The former Sabah chief minister was responding to a news report earlier today that cited an unnamed source saying the government would file for a strikeout of his suit that has been fixed for hearing on July 2.
He clarified that he is not against investigating the judicial misconduct allegations but the suitability of it being done by a royal commission of inquiry (RCI).
“Ultimately it is up to the court to rule whether to strike out the originating summons.
“Whoever is the minister or the officer advising the Cabinet on the RCI on judicial misconduct has not done a thorough job. It seems that the Cabinet has been wrongly advised,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.
News portal Malaysiakini had earlier cited a high-ranking government source whom it did not name saying Putrajaya will be filing papers in court soon to strike out Yong’s “frivolous” suit.
Malay Mail was unable to independently verify the government’s reported court plan. Calls to the Attorney General’s Chambers were unsuccessful even though today is a working day after the two-day Hari Raya Aidilfitri break.
De facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong responded to Malay Mail when contacted but said he could not verify the news report.
“I can’t verify it. The truth or otherwise of the matter will have to wait for the outcome of the court’s hearing,” the Sabah MP said in a WhatsApp message.
He said it is up to the government to file an affidavit in reply or rebut what the applicant said in his affidavit.
“It doesn’t stop the government from applying to court to strike it out on whatever legal grounds it deems fit and proper.
“As I said before, the government will have to wait for the due process of the law to take its course. Meanwhile, the RCI can wait until this is over while the police and the MACC can proceed with their investigation on any allegations of misconduct or corruption in the judiciary,” he said, the latter referring to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
Yong filed his originating summons on April 29, asserting that the RCI on judicial misconduct is unconstitutional and in breach of the principle of separation of powers.
He added that the proper legal procedure and platform for an investigation would be through a tribunal.
“We cannot have the executive branch of government probing the judiciary. A tribunal to investigate judicial misconduct is already provided for in the Federal Constitution,” he explained.
He said precedent was set in 1988 when a tribunal was formed to investigate the sacking of Tun Salleh Abbas as the then Lord President of Supreme Court.
Claiming to have been a victim of judicial interference during the 1999-2000 Likas election petition, Yong, who is a trained lawyer, said he too had a legitimate interest in finding out the truth.
Yong also pointed out that there were three ministers in the present-day federal Cabinet who may have conflict of interests when it came to implications of judicial misconduct.
He claimed Cabinet’s decision in February to approve the RCI after Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer alleged widespread corruption and abuses in the judiciary was tainted.
“I have detailed the conflict of interests by three ministers who have legal cases that might have implications of judicial interference or judicial misconduct. The three ministers presumably sat in the Cabinet meeting that approved the formation of RCI,” he said.
He named Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, whose husband Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was accused in several cases tainted with allegations of judicial misconduct, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran and Multimedia and Communications Minister Gobind Singh Deo who also have links to legal cases.