Kota Kinabalu High Court

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal stood down for 25 minutes at 3.45 pm today “for serious deliberation of the case” after hearing submissions on an appeal over the dissolution of the Sabah legislative assembly.

Justice Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, who led a three-member bench comprising also Justices Datuk Abu Bakar Jais and Datuk Supang Lian, said the panel needed time for serious deliberation of the case.

The panel had heard submissions from counsel representing 33 assemblymen led by former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman who are appealing against the Kota Kinabalu High Court’s dismissal of their application for leave for a judicial review to challenge the decision of the Yang Dipertua Negeri in dissolving the state assembly on July 30.

The court also heard submissions from counsel representing the four respondents, namely Sabah Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin; Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal; the Sabah Government and the Election Commission (EC).

If the court decides in favour of Musa and the 32 other assemblymen, the case will be remitted back to the High Court for a hearing on the merits of the judicial review application. Otherwise, the ruling of the High Court would stand. Any party dissatisfied with today’s ruling has a last avenue of appeal, to the Federal Court.

The hearing of submissions began yesterday with counsel Datuk Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin arguing the case for the 33 assemblymen.

Then, Sabah Attorney-General Brenndon Keith Soh, acting for Tun Juhar; counsel Datuk Cyrus Das, appearing for Mohd Shafie and the state government presented their arguments.

The court today continued hearing the submission by Das and then heard the submission by Senior Federal Counsel Suzana Atan who is acting for the EC as well by Firoz’s reply to the respondents’ arguments.

The High Court, in dismissing the application of the 33 assemblymen on Aug 17, had ruled that Mohd Shafie had acted within the Sabah Constitution in requesting Tun Juhar to dissolve the state assembly and said the proclamation to dissolve the state assembly was constitutional and valid.

In their application for leave for the judicial review, Musa and the assemblymen backing him are seeking court orders to quash Mohd Shafie’s request to Tun Juhar to dissolve the assembly; quash the proclamation of the dissolution of the assembly; and quash the Sabah state government gazette notification on the dissolution.

The 33 elected representatives claimed on July 29 that they made up the majority in the state assembly and wanted Tun Juhar to swear in a new government which would oust the state government of Mohd Shafie.

Mohd Shafie, who is Semporna MP and incumbent assemblyman for Senallang, pre-empted Musa’s move by advising Tun Juhar to dissolve the state assembly, which had 65 members at that time, including five nominated assemblymen.

Following the dissolution of the state assembly, the EC set Sept 12 for nomination and Sept 26 for polling in the 16th Sabah state election. – Bernama