Online petition urges Sabah govt to U-turn on SLS court action

KOTA KINABALU: An online petition has been initiated to urge the Sabah government to support the Sabah Law Society (SLS) in its 40% special grant court case against the Federal Government in the Court of Appeal.

So far, over 1,300 people have signed the petition on iPetitions which was started by a group identifying as “Concerned Sabahan”.

“We, the undersigned people of Sabah, respectfully call upon the Sabah government to unequivocally support the SLS’ legal action seeking a 40% share of net revenue derived from Sabah,” the group said.

It added that the SLS court action was a significant legal effort striving to uphold the rights of Sabah and Sarawak as outlined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“This agreement guarantees a fairer share of national revenue for these states.

“We are deeply troubled by recent reports indicating a possible lack of support from the state government for the SLS 40% action.

“This stance, if true, would be a significant disappointment, as it directly contradicts the trust placed in the government by the people of Sabah.

“Therefore, we urge the Sabah government to publicly declare unwavering support for the SLS 40% action and its pursuit of a just revenue distribution as outlined in the MA63,” it added.

The petition also called on the state government to work with the SLS to explore all legal avenues that ensure the success of the SLS action.

The online petition came amid a public fallout from the state government’s last-minute intervention in the Federal Attorney General’s appeal against a High Court decision to grant SLS leave to challenge the 40% special constitutional grant provisions last Thursday (May 16).

Tengku Datuk Fuad Ahmad was appointed to intervene on behalf of the state government in the Federal Government’s appeal of the November 2022 Kota Kinabalu High Court decision.

The High Court had granted SLS leave for a judicial review on the state’s right to receive 40% of its revenue, as stipulated in the Federal Constitution.

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

SLS had objected to the state government’s intervention but the AG, represented by a four-man team led by senior federal counsels Shamsul Bolhassan and Ahmad Hanir Hambaly, had no opposition to the matter.

The three-member Court of Appeal panel then granted the state government’s application to be an intervener and co-appellant against the leave granted to SLS.

Following the public backlash over the intervention, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor issued a statement the following day (May 17) vowing that Sabah will not give up in its pursuit of the 40% revenue entitlement owed by Putrajaya to the state.

Hajiji said the government will not surrender the fundamental constitutional rights of the state in relation to the 40% net revenue special grant under Articles 112C and 112D of the Federal Constitution.

The Court of Appeal reserved its judgement after adjourning the hearing and has set this coming Friday (May 24) for case management.

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