Chong will not apologise to JC Fong over MA63 statement

Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen (right) holds the letter from state legal advisor JC Fong. On the left is Chong's special assistant Dr Kelvin Yii.

KUCHING, Dec 12: DAP MP Chong Chieng Jen has refused to apologise over his earlier statement alleging that the state legal advisor had said Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the Inter-Governmental Committee Report had no legal force in Malaysia.

In a letter to Chong dated Dec 6, Sarawak state legal adviser Datuk Fong Joo Chung had requested Chong to identify clearly which part of the submission in the case of Keruntum Sdn Bhd v. State Government of Sarawak contained the words “the MA63 and the IGC Report had no legal force in Malaysia”.

Fong had said in his letter that if Chong failed to do so within seven days, he would institute legal action against Chong for defamation “unless you issue a public retraction of your said unfounded allegations and apology on terms to be approved by me”.

On the sixth day upon receiving Fong’s letter, Chong replied and told a press conference today that there is no necessity for him to apologise, quoting the submission by Fong, acting on behalf of the Sarawak State Government, submitted in the Federal Court as follows:

“28(1) The IGC in its Report at para 26(4) did NOT impose a mandatory requirement that where the Federal Court is hearing or disposing an appeal origination from a Borneo State, the FC Appeal Panel must have a “Judge with Bornean judicial experience.”

“(2) The said recommendation was never and still has not been implemented by the Governments of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak in accordance with the provisions of Article VIII of the Malaysia Agreement or by any express provisions of the Federal Constitution. Neither has the said recommendation been incorporated into any laws relating to the powers, jurisdiction and procedures or rules of the Courts in Malaysia, such as the Courts of Judicature Act, 1964.

“(3) By reasons herein above, the applicant has no legal rights to enforce or implement the said recommendation to have a Judge with Bornean judicial experience to hear and decide on its appeal which originated from Sarawak.”

“The ordinary meaning of such statements is that the recommendation contained in the IGC Report which is part of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 has no force of law and cannot be invoked unless it is incorporated in the Federal Constitution or any piece of law in Malaysia,” said Chong.

“If a company or a person cannot avail itself or himself to the rights recommended in the IGC Report, it means that the said recommendation has no force of law or legal force.”

Furthermore, Chong said what he had said about the IGC Report having no force of law was first reported in the web news portal on Aug 5, 2017 in an article titled “Govt Lawyer: No need for judge with Bornean experience to hear case”.

“Why has the state government not taken any action to rectify such reporting in the first place if it were wrong reporting?

“Thirdly, my statement was not even directed at J.C. Fong in his personal capacity, but the state government and its stand on the enforceability of the IGC Report and MA63.”

Chong added that it is his duty as the people’s representative to question the government of the day on its position on MA63 and the ICG Report, especially given that the state legal adviser, has made a submission in Court which on the face of it, seems to contradict the position propagated by the state government to ordinary Sarawakians.

On Dec 7, 2017, the Federal Court adopted the Sarawak government’s position, i.e. the recommendations of the IGC Report which forms part of the Malaysia Agreement has no force of law unless such recommendations were incorporated in the Federal Constitution or any law.

“The state government may have won the legal suit against Keruntum Sdn Bhd but it has just shot itself in the foot in the pursuit of more autonomy for the state. The Federal Court’s decision will definitely be used by the federal government to resist Sarawak’s demand for the enforcement of the full terms of the Malaysia Agreement 1963.”

Chong also urged Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to explain to the people of Sarawak on the contradictory positions taken by the state government in the Federal Court and to Sarawakians. — DayakDaily