After court 'blunder', Sabahans more united over state rights, says Anifah

KOTA KINABALU: The alleged "blunder" in the state government's argument at the appeals court to block the Sabah Law Society (SLS) from seeking a judicial review on revenue rights has a silver lining, Senator Tan Sri Anifah Aman said.

“Objectively, the blunder has brought about something very positive. The one clear message is that Sabah is not backing down even an inch. The words used by the Chief Minister in his statement are loud and clear.

“While we must learn from what has happened...from the mistakes made, let us also build on our strength.

"Personally, I see that the Malaysia Agreement 1963 issue brings all Sabahans together despite our differences.

"This is what makes us strong,” Anifah, who is Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) president, said in a statement Tuesday (May 21).

He said it was clear that Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor had reiterated that the state government is “uncompromising and absolute" in its position to pursue state rights despite an alleged "misguided statement" in the arguments at the Court of Appeal last week.

Anifah's statement comes amid a political and public backlash after the state-appointed counsel Tengku Datuk Fuad Ahmad argued that the state rights in the Federal Constitution were not "absolute or mandatory" and were just "aspirational" at the Court of Appeal hearing on Thursday (May 16).

The Sabah government applied to be an intervener and co-appellant in the Federal Government's appeal against leave granted by the Kota Kinabalu High Court to SLS's application for a judicial review on Sabah's right to be paid back 40% of the revenue collected by the Federal Government from the state.

Anifah, a former foreign minister, said the state rights were raised during the Barisan Nasional government, which saw the then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak forming a committee with him and then law minister Datuk Nancy Shukri to oversee issues on MA63.

Amid the fallout from the Court of Appeal hearing, Hajiji stressed that the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah government has not never given up on its fundamental constitutional rights in relation to the 40% net revenue special grant under Articles 112C and 112D of the Federal Constitution.

State Attorney General Datuk Nor Asiah Mohd Yusof, who is facing calls from various parties to resign over the handling of the matter, had assured her office will take measures to correct its lawyer's “misguided statements".

"The state Attorney General’s Chambers will take necessary measures to correct any misguided statement that deviates from the state’s clear and formal position,” she said in her statement.

Amid public questions on why the state government needed to go against SLS legal action, Anifah appealed for calm among the people in the state.

“Whatever actions and decisions we make must be in the best interest of Sabah and the people.

“Our journey in pursuing our rights has been a long one. Who knows when we will ever achieve our goals. But it’s not wise for us to be divided and make a public enemy of certain parties at any point of this journey.

"We’re all in this together,” he added.

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