Hajiji dodges questions over Sabah govt intervention in 40% revenue rights case

Hajiji waving to the media as he left the venue.

KOTA KINABALU: With a wave and a smile, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor has once again sidestepped questions from the media amid public fallout over the Sabah government’s intervention in the 40% special grant appeal case.

Hajiji had officiated at an event at the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) here on Tuesday (May 21) but chose not to stop to field questions from reporters who waited for him.

"Next time," he said briefly, waving and smiling as he walked past the group.

Some reporters followed Hajiji to his car and pressed him for a response, to which he answered: "Later, we'll issue a statement."

The Chief Minister had dodged questions from the media after a function on Saturday (May 18).

State-appointed lawyer Tengku Datuk Fuad Ahmad had filed a surprise intervention on Thursday (May 16) in the Federal Attorney General's appeal against the Kota Kinabalu High Court’s decision to grant Sabah Law Society (SLS) leave to challenge provisions of the 40% special provisions grant.

The Court of Appeal was supposed to deliver its verdict on the leave application but following Tengku Fuad's intervention, it had to reserve its judgment until May 24.

Following the hearing, Hajiji issued a statement on Friday (May 17) vowing that Sabah will not give up its pursuit of the 40% revenue entitlement owed by Putrajaya to the state.

Tengku Fuad’s argument to block SLS from being granted leave for judicial review triggered a public and political backlash in Sabah.

Various leaders from Hajiji's ruling Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) coalition called for action to be taken against state Attorney General Datuk Nor Asiah Mohd Yusof as well as a revamp of the state Attorney General’s Chambers over the matter.

Local NGO Bersama Kita Peduli, however, urged the Sabah government not to make the state AG a scapegoat.

Its chairman Juriah Uda Sulai said she did not see any wrongdoing by Nor Asiah, who was overseas during the court proceedings with a delegation that included State Secretary Datuk Seri Safar Untong.

“If it is wrong for them to be overseas, then why were they given approval to go abroad?” she said in a statement.

On Sunday (May 19), Nor Asiah said the state AG’s Chambers respected the SLS’ right to seek judicial review on this matter, on the basis that public interest litigation was vital for upholding the rule of law and ensuring fair justice.

She added that the state AG’s Chambers would take the necessary measures to correct any misguided statement deviating from the state’s clear and formal position.

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