Baru Bian: Sarawak must take Putrajaya to court to challenge constitutionality of three Acts related to state boundaries
KUCHING, May 20 — Ba’Kelalan State Assemblyman Baru Bian today urged the state government to take the federal government to court on the constitutionality of the three Acts of Parliament that touch the state’s boundaries.
He said the state government has the legal standing to take the federal government to court on the constitutionality of the three Federal Laws.
“If the boundaries of Sarawak as extended by the 1954 Order in Council is non-negotiable as stated by the deputy minister, then it is incumbent upon this GPS government to take up a case in the High Court to challenge the constitutionality of the Petroleum Development Act 1974, Continental Shelf Act 1966 and Territorial Sea Act 2012, “ he said during the debate on the opening address of the State Assembly by the Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud.
He believed that taking the federal government to court is a mandatory step to take, failing which, the implementation of the Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2022 would be restricted and so will the state’s rights and sovereignty over all petroleum and natural resources within the 200 nautical mile boundaries following the Continental Shelf of Sarawak.
Deputy Minister of Law, Malaysia Agreement 1963 and State-Federal Relation Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, in clarification to points raised by Baru when winding the debate on Sarawak Land Code (Amendment) Bill two days ago, had firmly stated that the issue of state’s territorial boundaries was non-negotiable.
She had said the 1954 Order in Council extended the boundaries of Sarawak to include that part of the Continental Shelf being the seabed and its subsoil which lies beneath the high sea contiguous to the territorial water of the State and does not affect the character of the high seas or any water above the area of the Continental Shelf.
Baru said the deputy minister’s clarification contradicted the reasons given by the Speaker Tan Sri Asfia Awang Nasar when rejecting a motion by Batu Lintang State Assemblyman Chee Chee How for the State Assembly to challenge the constitutionality of the three Acts.
He said the Speaker had ruled that the three Acts, which were passed by Parliament, are relevant laws and binding on Sarawak and a matter for the court to determine upon proper application made by the person with 'locus standi' to make such application.
According to the Speaker, Baru said the State Assembly had no constitutional authority to pronounce whether any law applied or is relevant to Sarawak by reason that the State Assembly had yet to approve, legislate and endorse them. “My point is this — that the Petroleum Development Act 1974, the Continental Shelf Act 1966 and Territorial Sea Act 2012 are Federal Laws passed by our Parliament and were never challenged in any courts in Malaysia and therefore are valid and operative for all intents and purposes.
“I tend to agree with that part of the Speaker’s ruling which states that only the court can declare any laws to be null and void or unconstitutional, not any minister not even this august House,” he said.