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Borneonisation suit: AG delays hearing

Two Sabahans seeking a ruling of their eight declarations
against the state and federal governments will have to
wait a little longer for the hearing.
By Luke Rintod of FMT
KOTA KINABALU: The Borneonisation suit against the Federal and State governments filed by two Sabahans two months ago which was fixed for hearing today before High Court judge, Justice David Wong Dak Wah, has been postponed to Nov 14, 2011, at the request of Federal Attorney-General.

The suit, filed by plaintiffs Mohd Nazib Maidan Dally, 35, and Bernard Fung Fon Chen, 70, on Aug 8, seeks eight declarations against both the governments, on the issue of their failures to implement “Borneonisation” of the federal public services in Sabah as agreed prior and as requisite to the formation of Malaysia Federation in 1963.

Borneonisation of federal services in Sabah is one of the 20 Points agreement, and is also assured and recommended in the Report of the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) in 1962 as conditions for Sabah (then North Borneo) to be co-partner with Malaya, Singapore and Sarawak in forming a new federation called Malaysia in 1963.

The duo’s counsel Peter Marajin, when approached by FMT in Kota Kinabalu today, said that days ago, the court granted Federal AG request for the postponement.

Observers believe the suit would be a closely-watched case as it has wide-ranging effect on the country as a whole and a test to Sabah’s autonomy as agreed in 1962 and 1963.

Similar landmark case

In March 2011, in another landmark case involving ‘state power’ , the High Court ruled in favour of a Sabahan who had sought a judicial review to overturn a federal government’s decision in “taking away” the power of the Sabah Yang di-Pertua Negeri in appointing Judicial Commissioners from the state.

Justice Wong in his landmark judgment then said the 1994 amendment to Article 122AB of the Federal Constitution to take away the power of appointing judicial commissioners (JCs) by the heads of state of Sabah and Sarawak was invalid as it did not have the consent of the two states.

He had said the amendment affected the operation of the Constitution as it removed the power of the appointment of JCs by the respective Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sabah and Sarawak.

Prior to the 1994 amendment, the appointment of JCs to the High Courts of Sabah and Sarawak was done by the governors of respective states on the advice of the Chief Judge of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak (formerly known as High Court of Borneo which exists parallel to High Court of Malaya).

In his 39-page written judgement delivered on March 15, Justice Wong said Article 161E (2) prohibits amendments to the Federal Constitution without the consent of the governors “if the amendment is such as to affect the operation of the (Federal) Constitution with regard to the constitution and jurisdiction of the High Courts of Sabah and Sarawak.”

Erosion of rights

Meanwhile on the Borneonisation policy, in the early accords between leaders of then Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore, it was expressedly agreed that staffing of Federal departments and agencies in Sabah should be filled by locals.

However, 48 years later, not only most of the Federal agencies here still headed by outsiders but lower ranked staff also had been recruited more and more from Peninsular, infuriating locals.

Met at the court in Aug 8, both Mohd Nazib and Bernard said that they were filing their summons to stop further erosion of Sabah rights and privileges.

“We are doing this not only for ourselves and the state but for our future generations so that they will be given fair treatment as contained in Malaysia agreements,” said police pensioner Bernard.

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