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Sabah’s 13 new seats: Ex-CM wants court to rule on Najib’s inaction

SAPP chief Yong Teck Lee, 6 others file an originating summons, asking court to compel Prime Minister Najib Razak to table report in Dewan Rakyat.

Yong (4th from right) with the other plaintiffs and lawyers outside the Kota Kinabalu High Court.

KOTA KINABALU: A former Sabah chief minister and six other opposition members are seeking a court order to compel Prime Minister Najib Razak to table the Election Commission’s (EC) redelineation report on Sabah’s 13 new state seats in the Dewan Rakyat.

Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Yong Teck Lee led the group, all from opposition pact Gabungan Sabah, in filing an originating summons at the High Court here today.

They named Najib and the EC as defendants.

Aside from Yong, the other opposition members behind the action were SAPP vice-president Shuaib Mutalib, Gabungan Sabah secretary Edward Dagul, Parti Solidariti Tanah Air deputy president Edward Linggu, Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah youth chief Jovilis Majami, SAPP EC matters committee chairman Japiril Suhaimin and Parti Perpaduan Rakyat Sabah executive secretary Anesthicia Usun.

In their originating summons filed by lawyers Maijol Mahap, Yong Yit Jee and Benazir Japiril Bandaran, the group asked the court to declare that Najib was constitutionally obligated to table the EC report on the additional 13 seats in the Dewan Rakyat in time for the 14th general election (GE14).

SAPP president Yong Teck Lee (centre, in white shirt) fielding questions from the press outside the Kota Kinabalu High Court today

Speaking to reporters later, Yong said a Federal Government Gazette dated Feb 21, 2017 showed that the EC report was submitted to the PM on that date.

“We are thus seeking a court declaration that the prime minister was constitutionally bound to table the EC report to the Dewan Rakyat after the EC submitted its report to him,” he said.

Yong added the group also sought the court’s declaration that the constitution did not provide any discretionary power to the prime minister not to table the EC report in the Dewan Rakyat.

“This will contradict what Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told Parliament last week that the PM has the discretion not to table the report. There is no discretion under the constitution.

“The decision whether to approve the EC review is up to the Dewan Rakyat and not the prime minister.

Yong, however, pointed out the group did not intend to stop the coming general election.

“We are not seeking for the court to declare the general election null and void but only the court’s declaration for the PM to table the EC report on the review of the Sabah constituencies as soon as possible,” he said.

He added that the failure by the PM to table the EC report in the Dewan Rakyat before its expected dissolution soon would be a reflection of the ruling Barisan Nasional’s disrespect for the state constitution.

“It is a disregard for the state legislative assembly and an insult to the Sabah people,” he said.

Yong also pointed out that there was no obstacle to the tabling of the EC’s redelineation report for Sabah compared with the report for states in the peninsula.

“There is no court case in Sabah to prevent the EC from submitting the report to parliament (unlike) in Selangor, Penang and other states in the peninsula. So it should have been a smooth process.

“If the PM can overcome so many hurdles in Peninsular Malaysia, just to table the EC redelineation report there, and all done in one day, what is stopping him from tabling the report on Sabah?

“Nobody has answered on the reasons for this. So, in this case, we put the issues before the court and all those involved will need to answer,” he said.

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