Sulaiman vs Raghad: Civil suit postponed until May 8 due to Taib’s death

Counsels Alvin Chong (left) and Jonathan Tay (second left) represented the plaintiff in today's hearing.

Editor’s note: The story has been updated at 6.41pm

By Lian Cheng and Dorcas Ting

KUCHING, March 14: Today’s hearing of Sulaiman vs Raghad case has been postponed to May 8, due to the passing of Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud on Feb 21, 2024.

The request was put forward by the plaintiff counsel Alvin Chong, who requested for the hearing to be adjourned, on the grounds that the plaintiffs Dato Sri Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Abdul Taib and Dato Sri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib were putting the house in order following the demise of their late father Taib.

In this high-profile case, Taib’s sons Sulaiman and Abu Bekir, represented by counsels Chong and Jonathan Tay, had in 2023 filed a suit against their stepmother Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Raghad Kurdi Taib and RHB Investment Bank.

Following the turn of events, Taib’s sons, through their counsels submitted that the transfer of their late mother’s estate to Raghad be declared null and void, and her 50 million CMS shares be returned to their late mother Datuk Patinggi Puan Sri Laila Taib’s estate.

They also demanded an injunction to be placed against Raghad, her trustees, servants and agents, as well as those of RHB, for the sale, disposal, transferring and mortgaging of the 50 million CMS shares that she is currently holding.

In response to Chong’s request today, Raghad’s counsel Alvin Yong said following the last hearing where the point of jurisdiction – whether the Civil Courts have jurisdiction over matters concerning Syariah matters – was brought up, he hoped to provide the court with three authorities on the issue.

Tan Kee Heng, the defence counsel for RHB Investment followed, arguing that the matter on point of jurisdiction was brought up by Raghad’s counsel in its earlier submissions, which cited Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution, that “the Civil High Court has no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdictions of the Syariah Courts”.

Providing references to three cases, he stressed that “where no jurisdiction exists, the suit is not competently brought and the Court therefore has no power to take one more step”.

“Jurisdiction does not originate in consent or acquiescence of the parties and cannot be established, where it is absent, by such consent, acquiescence or waiver of rights”, he argued, adding that “jurisdiction challenge has always been allowed by the Court at any stage of the proceedings”.

Judicial Commissioner Alexander Siew, who presided over the case, set May 8 for next hearing. — DayakDaily