High Court calls for further submissions over Sabah election challenge

(FMT) – The High Court here wants further arguments on whether it has the judicial authority to listen and decide over a challenge on the authority of Sabah governor Juhar Mahiruddin to dissolve the state assembly.

Judicial commissioner Leonard Chin today asked the state attorney-general, representing Juhar, and counsel representing the 33 assemblymen including former chief minister Musa Aman, who filed for leave for a judicial review, to submit further written submissions.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing of the leave application, Tengku Fuad Ahmad, representing the 33, said the issue highlighted by Chin was whether the court has justiciability over the case.

“The question the judge is centring on is justiciability, whether the court can go further and inquire into the legality of Juhar and (caretaker chief minister) Shafie Apdal’s conduct,” he said.

“The state AG will file the written submissions next Monday and we will do ours by next Wednesday.

“We will reconvene on Aug 17 for additional arguments for a ruling (on the leave application). It’s up to the judge,” he said.

State Attorney-General Brenndon Keith Soh confirmed that his office will file the submissions on Monday.

Musa and the 32 other assemblymen are questioning the July 29 written request from Shafie to Juhar to dissolve the assembly.

The dissolution paved the way for a snap state election, the date for which is expected to be announced by the Election Commission (EC) soon.

The 33 assemblymen named Juhar as the first respondent, Shafie, the EC and the state government as the second, third and fourth respondents respectively.

Tengku Fuad said the main crux of their challenge was that Juhar was improperly advised to dissolve the assembly under Article 21(2) of the Sabah constitution.

“We also state that the governor failed to exercise his constitutionally mandated discretion under Article 7(1) of the state constitution.

“This is to consider Musa as being a person who commanded the confidence of the majority of the state legislative assembly and be sworn in as chief minister.”

Musa had claimed on July 29 he had the simple majority to form the state government after garnering support from 33 assemblymen.

The following day, however, Shafie dissolved the state assembly after obtaining consent from Juhar.