KUCHING, Dec 5: Sarawak government is giving contradicting stands on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) as the state’s legal advisor had said that MA63 including the Malaysia Report of the Inter-Governmental Committee 1962 (IGC Report), have no legal force in Malaysia.
Referring to a news article on a news portal titled ‘Govt lawyer: No need for judge with Bornean experience to hear case’ (http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/08/15/govt-lawyer-no-need-for-judge-with-bornean-experience-to-hear-case/), state DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen said that state legal advisor Datuk JC Fong held the same view as Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Pandikar Amin Mulia on MA63.
“The Sarawak BN government and (Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi) Abang Jo (Abang Johari Tun Openg) should be truthful and frank with Sarawakians about the state government’s stand on MA63, the IGC Report and their legal effect,” Chong, also the state opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan chairman, told a press conference today.
Chong said that the state government has repeatedly told Sarawakians that MA63 has legal standing that is over and above the Federal Constitution, but the state’s legal adviser Fong while acting for the Sarawak government, told the Federal Court that the MA63 and the IGC Report have no legal force.
“All the talk of autonomy by Sarawak BN, the London trip, forwarding of the historical documents to (Prime Minister Datuk Seri) Najib (Tun Razak) and the so-called discussion are nothing but smokescreen of the Sarawak BN to deceive Sarawakians,” said Chong, who demanded an explanation from the state government on this matter.
Fong as the state’s legal adviser, representing the Sarawak government in the recent case of Keruntum Sdn Bhd vs. Sarawak State Government, submitted to the Federal Court that the IGC Report which is part of MA63 has no legal force, and that “Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya did not intend to enforce the provision in the 1962 Malaysia Report of the Inter-Governmental Committee”.
In the said case, the five-member panel of the Federal Court hearing the appeal ruled in favour of the Sarawak state government endorsing the latter’s action to revoke the timber concession previously granted to Keruntum Sdn Bhd.
What the Federal Court overlooked is the non-compliance with the IGC Report in the constitution of the five-member panel hearing the appeal, i.e. none of the five judges hearing the case has “Bornean judicial experience”.
Keruntum’s lawyer thus raised this objection in an attempt to set aside the judgement.
“Instead of supporting the requirement of judge with “Bornean judicial experience”, the Sarawak state government’s lawyer told the Federal Court that such the IGC Report and the provisions therein have no legal force and thus, legally, there is no requirement,” said Chong.
The Kota Sentosa state assemblyman and also a legal practitioner said that Federal Court is the only and the highest official forum in this country to interpret the Constitution and MA63.
“Yet, to the surprise of everyone, the Sarawak state government’s lawyer in Federal Court openly denies that MA63 has any legal effect and support the contravention of the provision in MA63.
“One of the most obvious erosion of Sarawak’s rights under MA63 is the non-compliance of the requirement for judges with “Bornean judicial experience” when hearing appeals arising from Sarawak.”
Chong charged that the state government condoned and supported such erosion of power, simply because the panel had decided the case in favour of the state government.
“It just goes to show that the BN state government’s call for the state’s autonomy and rights is merely for matter of convenience. When it suits its interest (like in Keruntum’s case), the state government is prepared to forego and surrender our state’s rights,” said Chong.
He said that BN has repeatedly proven itself capable of surrendering Sarawak’s rights over the past 54 years and the Keruntum case is one of the most recent examples of such betrayal. — DayakDaily