Mazu issue: Court strikes out suit against CM

By Muguntan Vanar, The Star

The Court of Appeal struck out a suit by former Chief Minister Tan Sri Choing Kah Kiat against his successor Datuk Musa Aman over the construction of a Mazu statue in Kudat.

The three-men bench unanimously held that Chong, who filed the suit in his capacity as chairman of the Kudat Tuean Hou Charitable Foundation, was not representing a legally-registered body.

“It is, therefore, our finding that it is neither a lawful society nor an incorporated trust foundation,” Justice Md Raus Sharif said.

Justice Md Raus, who sat with Justices Abdul Hamid Embong and Sulong Matjeraie, made the decision following an appeal by Musa to strike out the case on the grounds that the foundation was an unregistered body.

He said the Amanah Raya Office and Sabah Attorney-General’s Office confirmed that the foundation was not a private trust and that it was not registered as one.

Justice Md Raus said that as an unlawful society, the court must act to strike down Chong’s suit without the need to proceed with the trial in keeping with the rules of High Court 1980.

On April 21, High Court Judicial Commissioner Yew Jen Kie dismissed an application by Musa to strike out the suit by Chong, Sabah’s 13th chief minister, who alleged that Musa and three others had abused their power over the Mazu project.

Musa and the three others named in suit contended that Chong did not have a locus standi in the suit since the Kudat Thean Hou Charitable Foundation had not been registered with the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

They said that this meant that the foundation did not have the legality to challenge the decision to withdraw the approval given by the Kudat Town Board to the foundation to construct a 10-storey-high statue of Mazu, the sea goddess.

In her ruling, Justice Yew said that the issue of whether Chong had the locus standi in the suit could only be determined through evidence adduced in the trial.

Chong, who quit from Musa’s Cabinet on April 13, 2006 after a fallout, said he would appeal to the Federal Court.