The de facto Law Minister comes to town

When Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said he was going “to closely monitor the resolution of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) on matters pertaining to Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63)” netizens did not take it well.

Monitoring for what, some asked.

Others said the minister was being arrogant and projecting an air of superiority, that in saying so he was issuing a veiled warning that the things the DUN members say and the resolutions they make better be acceptable to him and the PH government.

Can’t blame netizens, Sarawakians in particular, for thinking ill of the de facto Law Minister; he has not been handling himself well lately.

Firstly, in a meeting with GPS MPs before the second tabling of the failed constitutional Bill he appeared ready to have ‘pursuant to MA63’ inserted, but which he didn’t do.

Secondly, when Sarawakians rejected the move to transfer the High Court Registry HQ to Kota Kinabalu, Liew defended it, saying “there is nothing in law or the constitution for the Registrar of the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak to remain in Kuching forever”.

He went on to say “in fact it is to the contrary, as provided in Article 121 (4) of the Federal Constitution, which implies Sabah also has a right to house the registry”.

Yet after meeting Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg on Monday, he told reporters, “…I only came to know about it when it became an issue in the media”.

So, the de factor Law Minister didn’t advise the Prime Minister. How could he if he was not aware of it in the beginning!

But if he didn’t, who did?

No wonder the whole thing looks messy, ill-advised, and not well-thought out.

Strangely though, as much as he would not want to admit he is an interested party, Liew seems to want to make us think that it’s not the end of the story yet.

He seems to say that while the May 1 moving has been called off another date in the future is not impossible.

Look at this news report extract:  To a question, he (Liew) said Abang Johari “has made a strong objection on the fact that there was no consultation made”, hence he (Liew) took this into consideration.

The intimation to me is that if the chief minister had been consulted the objection would not have been “strong”?

Was that one of the reasons why he was meeting the chief minister – to see if the outcome would have been different if the chief minister had been consulted? That’s one.

Two, from this piece of conversation – “So having looked into that, and the court registrar decided that they will not implement the relocation at this moment” – Liew still didn’t seem to get it that it is not up to the court registrar to decide whether to move or when to move.

As an uninterested party, the minister sure had a convoluted logic. As an uninterested party he would have put an end to the whole issue; the de facto Law Minister can do that if that is what he wants.

And thirdly, is he again an uninterested party in the emergence in the social media of the proposed draft Legal Profession Bill (LPB) 2019?

Was he again unaware of the move to open Sarawak and Sabah to lawyers from Malaya until it became an issue among netizens?

Liew is probably watching the DUN in session through live streaming on social media even as I am writing this article, but if he expects to see and hear something completely different from the familiar, he will be disappointed.

He should know what to expect because he was in town and had just met the chief minister on Monday, and the chief minister said he “wants everything to be looked into” and that “there is no such thing as a piecemeal in this case since the MA63 is a package”.

You see, GPS does not make U-turns a way of life like PH does, so Liew can expect the same thing – insert ‘Pursuant to MA63’ and give ‘Federation’ a new meaning.