KOTA KINABALU: The move to shift the Registrar of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu is a 'purely judicial' decision and legal, says Datuk Liew Vui Keong.
According to the de facto Law Minister, there was nothing in the law or the Constitution stating that the Registrar shall remain in Kuching forever.
"Since Independence, the Registrar of Sabah and Sarawak has always been in
Kuching. So for 55 years, the Registrar was in Sarawak.
"There is nothing in the law or in the Constitution that says that the Registry shall remain in Kuching forever.
"In fact, it's to the contrary, as provided in Article 121(4) of the Federal Constitution. Impliedly, Sabah too has its right to house the Registrar," he said in a statement Sunday (April 21).
Liew, who is Batu Sapi MP, said the "purely judicial" decision to shift the location of the Registrar was made by the top four judges in March this year.
"Moving the Registrar to Kota Kinabalu changes nothing as far as 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," he said.
"When the new Kota Kinabalu Court Complex was ready for occupation late last year, newly retired Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum thought the time had come for Sabah to house the Registrar.
"This idea was put to the top management who also agreed. However, the Advocates Association of Sarawak flatly rejected the idea," Liew added.
According to Liew, Malanjum wrote to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad asking for permission to move the Registry to Kota Kinabalu based on several reasons to which the Prime Minister consented.
"There is no financial implication to such move.
"Thereafter, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong granted his royal assent to move the Registrar to Kota Kinabalu in early April. Only after that did the Chief Registrar issued the circular of relocation on Friday (April 19)," he said.
Meanwhile, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Datuk David Wong Dak Wah said the relocation of the High Court's Registrar was because it was moving to a bigger space.
He said the new Kota Kinabalu Court Complex was better equipped to handle the online system.
The relocation, which will come into effect on May 1, has triggered dissatisfaction among the legal circles in Sarawak.