Sabah govt makes about turn after public backlash in 40% revenue entitlement appeal

Datuk Nor Asiah Mohd Yusof.-filepic

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government has withdrawn its challenge against the position of the Sabah Law Society (SLS) in its 40% special grant court case against the Federal Government in the Court of Appeal.

State Attorney-General Datuk Nor Asiah Mohd Yusof said she and her team which included the special legal advisor to the Chief Minister, Datuk Brenndon Keith Soh, as well as state counsels Devina Teo and Roland Alik informed the Court of the state government’s stand during the case management on Friday (May 24).

Nor Asiah said the state government did not appeal against the decision of the Kota Kinabalu High Court granting leave to the SLS to proceed with the substantive hearing of their judicial review application in respect of the 40% special grant entitlement of Sabah on Nov 11, 2022.

“The state government accepts the outcome as granted namely, that leave be granted for the matter to be ventilated on the merits at the substantive hearing of the judicial review application,” she said, in a statement on Friday (May 24).

“In addition, the state government retracts all submissions made in the Court of Appeal on the issue of ‘locus standi’ of the SLS as this was not advanced nor submitted in the High Court by the state government.

“And the state government retracts the submission made in the Court of Appeal referring to Articles 112C and 112D of the Federal Constitution as being ‘an aspiration’ and not a mandatory or absolute right of the state of Sabah,” she added.

Nor Asiah said they also informed the court that the services of Tengku Datuk Fuad Ahmad, who represented the state in the hearing on May 16, had been terminated.

ALSO READ: Court sets June 18 for decision in 40% revenue entitlement appeal

“The Court of Appeal was informed that Messrs. F.T Ahmad & Co has ceased to act for the Sabah government and that the State Attorney General’s Chambers has taken over the full conduct and care of the matter.

“The Court of Appeal recorded these positions and has fixed the ruling of this matter on June 18,” she said.

Nor Asiah added: “I assure the public that the State Attorney General’s Chambers is fully committed and will continue to remain steadfast for the people of Sabah to uphold the state’s constitutional rights as outlined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the Federal Constitution.”

The state government made a last-minute intervention in the Federal AG’s appeal against the High Court decision to grant SLS leave to challenge the 40% special constitutional grant provisions on May 16.

Tengku Fuad was appointed to intervene on behalf of the state government and also to apply as a co-appellant in the case alongside the Federal AG which was challenging SLS’ locus standi in the case.

Tengku Fuad’s arguments to block SLS from being granted leave for judicial review and on Articles 112C and 112D of the Federal Constitution as being ‘an aspiration’ triggered a public outcry and political storm in Sabah.

There were calls for the state AG to resign from both sides of the political divide over the handling of the case.

Following the public fallout 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 concerning the 40% net revenue special grant under Articles 112C and 112D of the Federal Constitution.

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