Sulaiman vs Raghad: Application only filed in court to enjoin Taib as third defendant, not served personally

(From row, second right) Shankar, Tan and Alvin Yong, defence counsel for Raghad at the Kuching High Court on Nov 9, 2023.

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Nov 9: An application has been filed in court to enjoin Sarawak’s Governor Tun Pehin Sri Taib Mahmud as the third defendant in the suit brought by his sons Dato Sri Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Abdul Taib and Dato Sri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib against his wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Raghad Kurdi Taib and RHB Investment Bank Berhad over the injunction placed over the disposal of CMS shares.

The plaintiff’s counsel Alvin Chong had filed an affidavit to enjoin Taib as the third defendant following his earlier submissions challenging the authenticity of the signature on documents related to Taib’s transfer of CMS’ shares to Raghad.

In today’s case mention presided by Judicial Commissioner Alexander Siew in Kuching High Court, lead defence counsel for Raghad, Shankar Ram Asnani pointed out that Chong has yet to serve the application personally on Taib, despite the filed application in court.

“I am given to understand after checking with Mr Alvin Chong that Enclosures 132/133 (applications to enjoin Taib) have not been served on Tun Pehin Seri Haji Abdul Taib B Mahmud personally and as a matter of law and principle, it is absolutely pertinent for the Plaintiffs and their advocates to serve Tun Pehin Seri Haji Abdul Taib B Mahmud personally with the application and because there is this basic right to be heard and to oppose such application to enjoin him as a proposed third defendant,” said Shankar.

Apart from highlighting the necessity to serve application on Taib personally, Shankar further pointed out that there are “serious constitutional issues” to be dealt should Taib, who is the Head of State, were to be included as the third defendant in the suit.

His argument was supported by defence counsel for second defendant RHB Investment Bank Berhad Tan Kee Heng who cited Articles 181 to 183 of the Federal Constitution before stated that “a case concerning the ruler of a state in his personal capacity shall only be vested in the special court under the Federal Constitution and not any other court in Malaysia”.

Supporting Tan, Shankar added that Article 181 to 183 of the Federal Constitution should be read together with Article 160(2) and the provisions of Article 1, 10 and 44 of the Sarawak Constitution.

Shankar argued that “no proceedings may be brought against the Governor in his personal capacity except in the Special Court established under the Federal Constitution (with the Chief Justice as one of the presiding judges) and that the Plaintiffs have also not sought the consent of the Attorney General of Malaysia personally to institute any proceedings against the Governor and this is apart from the constitutional position under Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution relating to assets and/or properties of Muslims”.

Siew after hearing arguments from both sides, set Nov 27 for further case management.

The case, despite several sessions of case mention, remains at the stage of case management due to the filing of new affidavits at each case mention.

In the last case mention dated Oct 6, the case took a surprise turn when Chong submitted new affidavits, which are statements from two forensic handwriting experts challenging the authenticity of Taib’s signature on documents of CMS’ share transfer. — DayakDaily