The Kota Kinabalu High Court on Friday (21 August) dismissed a judicial review application made against the Sabah ceremonial head of state’s decision to dissolve the State Assembly last month.
Chief Minister Musa Aman and 32 other assemblymen backing him, however, filed an appeal minutes after Judicial Commissioner Leonard David Shim delivered his decision this morning.
The judicial review application was filed by 33 state assemblymen following Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin’s decision to dissolve the state legislature on 30 July, reportedly after he was met by caretaker Chief Minister Shafie Apdal.
Lawyer Tengku Fuad Ahmad noted after the hearing today that the judicial commissioner found that one locus standi was present for judicial review, and that Chief Minister Shafie Apdal had in fact lost the required majority — leaving him with two choices: to either resign or to dissolve the state assembly.
Sabah Attorney-General Brenddon Keith Soh, however, opined that with the High Court’s decision today, there should no longer be any doubts or disputes on whether a state election must take place.
“A democratic state election will take place, and the Election Commission bears the responsibility of ensuring that such an election will be held within 60 days [from the dissolution of the state assembly],” he stressed.
Soh highlighted that today’s victory was not about any other parties but “the people of Sabah”, and signals that democracy is still alive in the state.
Lawyer Marcel Jude, who filed a quashing order against Tun Juhar’s decision alongside businesswomen Margret Binsing and Tessa Romana, have since decided to withdraw their case following the development.
Commenting on the High Court decision, Shafie said that the High Court has “upheld the state constitution”.
He added that now it is time to prepare for the election and fight against “party hoppers” to establish sociopolitical stability in the East Malaysian state.
Shafie is a founding member of the Sabah Heritage Party (WARISAN). WARISAN is an allied party of Pakatan Harapan.
PH’s governance came to an abrupt stop when events following the “Sheraton Move” earlier this year saw former premier Mahathir Mohamad’s then-right-hand man Muhyiddin taking the mantle of Prime Minister, following a power vacuum left by the former’s resignation from the post.
The PH coalition had earlier wrested power from Najib Razak’s Barisan Nasional (BN) alliance in 2018. BN governed Malaysia for 61 years since the nation’s independence prior to the 2018 general election.
The political crisis saw certain factions in the Malay-centric Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and the PKR parties purportedly attempting to form an alliance with Umno and other parties in a bid to establish a new government.
Dr Mahathir was since ousted from Bersatu — the party he co-founded — leading him to establish a new Malay-centric party called Pejuang recently.
Shafie’s rival Musa is the sole Umno representative in Sabah’s State Assembly.
Musa was acquitted and discharged of all 46 criminal charges — involving corruption and money laundering — made against him in connection to timber concessions contracts in Sabah after the prosecution decided to drop all such charges against him.
In June, Musa was accused of abusing his position during his tenure as Sabah chief minister and the chairman of Sabah Foundation Board of Trustees chairman by allegedly receiving US$50.1 million from eight logging concessionaires in exchange for approval of logging concessions to 16 companies.
Sabahans are bound to hit the polls on 26 September.
Election Commission (EC) deputy chairman and University of Malaya law lecturer Azmi Sharom said on Monday that the two-week campaigning period is slated to commence on 12 September.