Hornbill Unleashed

February 28, 2014

DAP assemblyman fails in bid to stop Taib from becoming Sarawak governor

DESMOND DAVIDSON

DAP’s last-ditch effort to stop outgoing Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud (pic) from being appointed as the next head of state failed, after the Kuching High Court today ruled that it had no jurisdiction over the appointment.

Judge Chew Soo Ho dismissed DAP Padungan state assemblyman Wong Kin Wei’s application for an ex parte injunction, saying that the appointment is at the sole discretion of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and the court had no jurisdiction to interfere with the prerogative.

Taib is scheduled to have an audience with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Shah Mu’adzam tomorrow afternoon.

In his writ of summons, Wong stated that Taib would be violating Article 2 (2) of the State constitution should he accept the post of head of state.

In his application, Wong claimed Taib was and is, at all material times, actively engaged in commercial enterprise.

Article 2 (2) of the Sarawak constitution states the governor C, as the position was known when the constitution was drawn up, “shall not hold any office of profit and shall not actively engage in any commercial enterprise.”.

DAP had earlier said their research showed “there was ample” evidence that Taib was engaged in illegal business activities, both in Malaysia and overseas.

The opposition said Taib was listed as a director and major shareholder of a Malaysian investment holding company called Mesti Bersatu Sdn Bhd.

Justice Chew, in his hearing in chambers (but held in a courtroom because his chambers was to small to accommodate all the legal counsel), ruled that it was premature to assume that Taib would violate the constitution since he has yet to be appointed.

Wong later told reporters that it was the court’s view that Taib could declare his business interests and relinquish them before he assumes office.

On Wong’s claim that the appointment would affect and prejudice his constitutional rights and that of the citizens of Sarawak, the court ruled that Wong would suffer no special damage and therefore he did not have the proper basis to come to court.

The court also ruled that if a decision was made to bar Taib from assuming office, there would be a La Cuna – a Latin term meaning “to intentionally and permanently give up, surrender or leave”.

It said without a head of state, there would be no executive authority and this would create a vacuum in the administration of the state.

The court said therefore, public interest and national interest would override Wong’s personal interest.

Wong apologised to fellow Sarawakians for his failure and said he would not appeal the court decision.

The court ordered no costs, even though Wong in his application sought it, as well as further interim orders and reliefs that the court deems just and necessary pending the disposal of the application.

Taib, meanwhile, will vacate his Balingian state assembly seat tomorrow.

In a news conference at the state legislative assembly building, Speaker Datuk Amar Mohammad Asfia Awang Nassar said he received a letter from Taib yesterday stating that he was vacating the seat tomorrow.

Asfia said he notified the Election Commission in writing today of the impending vacancy.

Taib’s vacating the seat would trigger a by-election.

The EC will to convene a meeting at its headquarters in Putrajaya on March 6 to discuss the seat. –

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