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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Application to stop Taib as governor dismissed


The Kuching High Court this afternoon dismissed the ex-parte application by Padungan assemblyperson Wong King Wei to stop Abdul Taib Mahmud from becoming Yang Di-pertua Negeri (governor) of Sarawak.

Abdul Taib is the outgoing chief minister of the state after 30 years at its helm.

The case was heard by judge Chew Soo Ho who dismissed the application with no order as to costs.

He said the court had no jurisdiction to interfere with the appointment as it was at the sole discretion of the Agong.

Wong (right) who is also Sarawak DAP's youth leader, said the court told him that the Yang di-Pertua Negeri could only be removed by way of a motion tabled in the state legislative assembly with a two-thirds majority.

Once that was done,the motion would then be forwarded to the Agong who would then remove him as Yang di-Pertua Negeri.

The court said traditionally, it would not interfere with the appointment of the head of state.

Wong argued that his action was not challenging the authority and the power of the Agong, but only asking the court to prohibit Taib Mahmud from accepting the appointment.

“We made this distinction, because one point is the appointment from the Agong, and the other is the acceptance of the appointment. But the court told us they had the same effect,” said Wong.

Premature consideration

On the question that the plaintiff had been engaging in commercial enterprises, the court said this was a premature consideration because Taib might relinquish all commercial posts after accepting the appointment.

The court noted that the state constitution does not allow the Yang di-Pertua Negeri to be actively engaged in commercial enterprises, and if he did, ran the risk of violating the state constitution.

“At this point I have to urge Taib Mahmud to take the advice from the court and after being sworn in as Yang di-Pertua Negeri, he must declare and relinquish all his commercial interests,” said Wong.

On the question whether Wong had locus standi to sue or not, the court said it would make the decision later.

Asked whether he would appeal, Wong said nothing much he could do now because of time constraints.

It has been reported Taib is expected to collect his instrument of appointment from the Agong on Friday, and will officially assume office soon after.

Under Article 2(2) of the state constitution, the Yang di-Pertua Negeri is not allowed to be involved in commercial businesses.

And under Article 6(5) of the state constitution, the chief minister is also not allowed to be involved in commercial businesses.

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