Relocation of Registrar of High Court unconstitutional, says Datuk Sebastian Ting

Datuk Sebastian Ting

SUPP, like the majority of the Sarawakians, is shocked and disappointed with the high handed decision to relocate the office of the Registrar of the High Court via a letter dated 19th April 2019 signed by the Chief Registrar of the Federal Court Datuk Seri Latifah Mohd Tahar, said Piasau Assemblyman, Datuk Sebastian Ting.

The High Court Registry was established in Kuching since the formation of Malaysia in 1963, 56 years ago, which must have been made after a thorough discussions and much consultations amongst the then Chief Ministers of both Sabah and Sarawak and the Malayan leaders.

Ting added that the relocation was to take effect on the May 1, 2019 and with such a short notice of just mere 10 days of such an important matter does tell a lot to the GPS Government and the people of Sarawak as a whole, especially after the failed proposed Federal Constitution Amendment Bill 2019 where all the GPS Members of Parliament abstained during the voting on the 9th April 2019.

The failed proposed Federal Constitution Amendment Bill 2019 were 138 Members of Parliament, 10 short of the 148, the required two-third majority to pass the proposed controversial Federal Constitution Amendment Bill 2019.

“ Article 121(4) of the Federal Constitution is crystal clear and states as follows:

“In determining where the principal registry of the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak is to be, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall act on the advice of the Prime Minister, who shall consult the Chief Ministers of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the Chief Judge of the High Court”.

The word here is “shall” and thus mandatory for the Prime Minister to consult the Chief Ministers of Sabah and Sarawak. We do not know whether there was any consultation by the Prime Minister with the Sabah Chief Minister. But for Sarawak, today we read that our Chief Minister had confirmed that he was not consulted at all on this proposed relocation of the office of the Registrar of the High Court for Sabah and Sarawak to Kota Kinabalu.

There is a blatant breach of the Federal Constitution Article 121(4). The press statement of the Law Minister Datuk Liew dated 21st April 2019, which is a Sunday, attempted to explain the now controversial decision of such relocation. He made reference to Article 121(4) and stated, amongst others, “There is nothing in law or in the Constitution which says that the Registry shall remain in Kuching forever”,Ting said.

Liew, Ting pointed out, missed the most important point on the mandatory consultation with both the Chief Ministers of Sabah and Sarawak and the Chief Judge of the High Court. Did he miss it or he has some other reasons, best known to himself and those who made this decision.

“We always say, especially our Judges, our Federal Attorney General and Lawyers, and some (not all) Members of Parliament, that our Federal Constitution is the Supreme Law of our Country and must be followed, for otherwise, there will be chaos and anarchy.  Our country legal system cannot allow the “law” of individuals or “thoughts” of individuals to be over and above the Supreme Law of our Country, which is our Federal Constitution, which Members of Parliament, including our Prime Minister and his Cabinet had sworn to uphold,” he added.

Returning to the Law Minister Datuk Liew’s statement, he said that the decision to move the Registrar was made in March this year by the top four judges. It is interesting to note that two of the top four judges are from Sabah, the then (now retired) Chief Judge and the present Chief Judge of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak. Coincidentally, the Law Minister is also from Sabah.

“Even if the top four Judges had so decided, they would have expected the Law Minister and perhaps the Federal Attorney General to follow the mandatory requirement of the Federal Constitution, which is to consult the Chief Ministers of Sabah and Sarawak and the Chief Judge of the High Court.It is for the Law Minister and the Federal AG, not the top Judges, to advise the Prime Minister and Agong on this mandatory Federal Constitution requirement, which apparently the Law Minister had failed to do so. No matter how hard the Law Minister might want to explain his failure, he still cannot get pass the fact that Sarawak Chief Minister was never consulted on this relocation decision,” he said.

Ting called to Liew that  as a responsible Law Minister and a man of principle, he must surmount his courage and do the right thing. He must first apologize to the Chief Minister of Sarawak and the Sarawak people. Whether the Law Minister would apologize to the top four Judges for his gross failure, it is for the Law Minister to decide. As the Minister of Law, he should act with justice and impartiality; he is the protector of the Constitution and should not allow any abrogation or violation of the Constitution.

Sarawak DAP and PKR failed again. We have one Minister Baru Bian and one Deputy Minister Chong Chieng Jen in Putrajaya and yet they allowed the erosion of our fundamental rights under the Constitution which they as Sarawakians should guard.

Datuk Sebastian Ting

Datuk Sebastian Ting