Federal Court must decide constitutionality of TYT’s exercise of power to remove CM, justice rules in judgment

In the 34-page judgment, the Federal Court judge (Abdul Rahman) said it was of public interest to hear the merits of former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman’s appeal instead of casting it aside as being academic. — Picture by Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
In the 34-page judgment, the Federal Court judge (Abdul Rahman) said it was of public interest to hear the merits of former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman’s appeal instead of casting it aside as being academic. — Picture by Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin

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PUTRAJAYA, Sept 3 — Issues concerning the constitutionality of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sabah’s exercise of power to remove a sitting and validly appointed Chief Minister must be decided once and for all by the Federal Court, Justice Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli said in his judgment.

In the 34-page judgment, the Federal Court judge (Abdul Rahman) said it was of public interest to hear the merits of former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman’s appeal instead of casting it aside as being academic.

“It is public knowledge that this is not the first time that the people of Sabah had to face this kind of political turmoil and constitutional crisis, and it will not be the last if not finally resolved by this court,” he said.

Justice Abdul Rahman said it was of great importance for the Federal Court to determine if the position of the law as interpreted by the High Court in this case, was the correct position of the law.

“This is to avoid a recurrence of the constitutional crisis, which has the potential to repeat itself after the results of the coming 16th Sabah State Election are announced by the Election Commission,” he said.

Last week, Justices Abdul Rahman and Datuk Zabariah Mohd Yusof in a 2-1 majority decision allowed Musa to appeal to the Federal Court against the Court of Appeal’s decision which was not in his favour.

Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Mohd Zawawi Salleh had dissented, ruling that leave to appeal should not be given to Musa and there were no “live issues” to determine.

In his judgment which was released today, Justice Abdul Rahman said there was no closure yet on the issue of whether Musa had been lawfully removed from office.

“The people of Sabah has an inalienable right to know whether the removal of Tan Sri Musa as the validly appointed Chief Minister was done validly, lawfully and in accordance with the Constitution of Sabah,” he said.

He said the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sabah had dismissed Musa within approximately 48 hours, adding that Musa was denied the opportunity to request for a dissolution of the state assembly.

Justice Abdul Rahman said Musa’s case stand in contrast to the Perak case where the then Mentri Besar of Perak Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin had made a request to dissolve the assembly pursuant to the Perak Constitution but was subsequently denied by the Sultan of Perak.

“Unlike the Sultan of Perak, who is a Malay hereditary Ruler, the office of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sabah is a creation of the Sabah Constitution,” he said.

He said the Court of Appeal, by holding Musa’s appeal academic, adopted the convenient solution without addressing the fundamental constitutional questions before it.

Musa was sworn in as Chief Minister on May 10, 2018, after securing a simple majority in the 14th general election but lost the majority when several assemblymen from his party (Umno) and from a Barisan Nasional component party (Upko) jumped ship to give their support to Parti Warisan Sabah led by Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

Musa then filed an originating summons to challenge Mohd Shafie’s appointment as the new Chief Minister, claiming that he was the rightful Chief Minister of Sabah.

On November 7, 2018, the Kota Kinabalu High Court in dismissing Musa’s originating summons ruled that Mohd Shafie’s appointment as Chief Minister was constitutional.

Musa also lost his appeal in the Court of Appeal last year which was dismissed on grounds that it was academic. — Bernama

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