Chong has a different view for Abg Jo not to debate with Pandikar

Chong Chieng Jen

KUCHING: Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen saysd there is no point for Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari to debate with Parliament Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia over the enforceability of Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“This is because the Sarawak BN (Barisan Nasional) government’s legal advisor holds the same view as Pandikar Amin and had in August 2017 submitted on behalf of the state government in the Federal Court that MA63, including the Malaysia Report of the Inter-Governmental Committee 1962 (IGC Report), had no legal force in Malaysia.

“The Sarawak BN government and Abang Jo (Johari) should be truthful and frank with Sarawakians about the state government’s stand on MA63, the IGC Report and their legal effect,” said Chong through his press statement yesterday.

“On the one hand, the state government has repeatedly told Sarawakians that MA63 has the legal standing that is over and above the Federal Constitution.

“However, the Sarawak government’s legal advisor Datuk JC Fong, while acting for the Sarawak state government, told the Federal Court that the MA63 and the IGC Report had no legal force,” he added.

Chong, who is also Kota Sentosa assemblyman, further alleged that Sarawak’s legal advisor, representing the state 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, had 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’.

According to him, Clause 26(4) of the IGC Report states as follows:

‘26 (4) The domicile of the supreme Court should be in Kuala Lumpur.  Normally at least one of the Judges of the Supreme Court should be a Judge with Bornean judicial experience when the Court is hearing a case arising in a Borneo State; and it should normally sit in a Borneo State to hear appeals in cases arising in that State.’

“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 has overlooked is the non-compliance of the IGC Report in the constitution of the five-member 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 its attempt to set aside the judgement.”

He stressed further that instead of supporting the requirement of judges with ‘Bornean judicial experience’, Sarawak state government’s lawyer told the Federal Court that the IGC Report and the provisions therein had no legal force and thus, legally, there is no requirement.

Chong said the 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 denied that MA63 had any legal effect and supported the contravention of the provision in MA63.

“One of the most obvious erosions of the Sarawak’s rights under MA63 is the non-compliance of the requirement for judges with ‘Bornean judicial experience’ when hearing appeal arising from Sarawak.

“Yet, the BN state government condones and supports such erosion of power, simply because the panel has decided the case in favour of the state government.

“It just goes to show that the BN state government’s call for state’s autonomy and rights is merely for matter of convenience.  When it suits its interest (like the Keruntum’s case), the state government is prepared to forego and surrender our state’s rights.”

Chong pointed out that unless the state government could give a satisfactory explanation as to why the State Legal Adviser presented a totally contradictory stand in the Federal Court in the Keruntum case (which is the official state government’s stand), 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’.

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