KUCHING: Judicial Commissioner Christopher Chin has fixed Jan 23 to decide on whether he should recuse himself from presiding over the High Court case of Sarawak suing Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) for unpaid state sales tax (SST) of RM1.3 billion.
Chin, a Sabahan, has to make a decision over the matter following the application made by Petronas.
The case management was heard in the High Court judge chambers.
State legal counsel Dato Sri JC Fong told the media that Petronas’ main ground for asking him (Chin) to recuse himself is because he is just a “temporary judge” and he might not be made a full judge later on if he continues to preside over the case.
“They (Petronas) are afraid that he might not get promoted. That is the main reason,” he stressed.
The unpaid SST for 2019 to the tune of RM1.3 billion was calculated up to June this year.
The state government is relying on the Malaysian Agreement 1963, Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 and State Sales Tax 1998 (SST98) as the basis of its case but Petronas is arguing that the SST98 is ultra vires, null and void.
Separately, Petronas is also filing a judicial review on the notices of assessment issued by the state government through its Comptroller of the SST.
Petronas will know by this evening when the judicial review hearing will start.
Earlier, hundreds of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) members thronged the courthouse to show their support to the Sarawak government.