KOTA KINABALU, June 10 — The Sabah Law Society (SLS) said today it had mounted its suit against the federal government to challenge its decision for a Special Grant that was in contravention to the law as it felt it was its duty and place as a legal body.
President Roger Chin said that SLS, as a statutory body with no ties to the government or any political parties, had the locus standi to mount such a suit.
“We took this up because we felt that the Bar has a locus standi in matters under its objectives. We do hope that if a challenge is imminent from the federal government, we have a very good chance of overcoming this,” he said in a press conference today.
Chin said that the SLS had unanimously decided in an extraordinary general meeting to pursue the case independently as it had good standing and was the best party to do so.
“The SLS is the voice of independent legal advice. We are not beholden to any parties and we want to uphold the law without fear or fervour that is why this action was mounted — to protect Sabah’s 40 per cent entitlement rights as stipulated in the Federal Constitution,” said Chin.
He also said that the SLS was aware of the complexities of a 40 per cent revenue formula, but said that he hoped a review would be able to provide proper guidelines to calculate the sum.
“We want to remedy the last 49 years. We want them to pay the state, not just any amount but the 40 per cent the state is entitled to. This is not a political stance, as our members come from all parties but we are in agreement and come together for this. We have had too many lost years already,” said lawyer David Fung.
The SLS yesterday filed its suit to ask for a judicial review of Putrajaya’s annual grant to Sabah worth RM125.6 million which was announced in April and gazetted. The announcement was made jointly with the state government who welcomed the news and said it would still pursue its 40 per cent entitlement meanwhile.
SLS is asking for an overturn of the gazettement of the annual grant for Sabah, saying it was not in line with the state’s revenue rights under MA63.
The Review now published in the recent Federal Gazette on the April 20, 2022 is only in respect of years 2022 to 2026. It has failed to address the lost years from 1974 to 2021.
“Under Article 112D (3), it is incumbent upon the federal government to hold a Second Review in 1974. The Federal Government failed or neglected to hold that Second Review. This is in clear contravention of the Federal constitution. This contravention is to the detriment of the people of Sabah.
“By failing to hold that review for periods from 1974 to 2021 the people of Sabah have lost the benefit of the 40 per cent entitlement as of right under the federal constitution. These are revenue lost yearly,” said Chin.
Earlier this month, 12 Sabah Pakatan Harapan lawmakers had also filed a claim in the High Court to seek Sabah’s rights to its entitlement for the return of 40 per cent of federal revenue derived from the state.
Sabah chief minister Datuk Hajiji Noor said he took the SLS suit as a positive sign of its non-partisanship.