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Judicial RCI: Gov't was ‘wrongly advised’ to strike out my lawsuit, says ex-CM

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Former Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee believes that Putrajaya has been “wrongly advised” to strike out his originating summons challenging the constitutionality of the proposed Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the judiciary.

Speaking to the Malay Mail, Yong maintained that his legal challenge was valid.

“Ultimately, it is up to the court to rule whether to strike out the originating summons.

“Whoever is the minister or the officer advising the cabinet on the RCI on judicial misconduct has not done a thorough job.

“It seems that the cabinet has been wrongly advised,” he was quoted as saying.

A high-ranking government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, previously told Malaysiakini that Putrajaya wanted to strike out the legal challenge as there was precedent for forming an RCI on judicial matters, pointing to the one in 2008.

The government thus regarded Yong’s suit as “frivolous”, the source said.

The hearing for the suit is set for July 2.

In his originating summons filed on April 29, Yong argued that an RCI would result in executive interference into the judiciary, and proposed that the government conduct a tribunal for the judges instead.

He is seeking four declarations: 

  • That the decision by Putrajaya to set up the RCI is unconstitutional as it will be in breach of the principle of separation of powers and Article 125 of the Federal Constitution, the latter of which outlines the procedure for the suspension and removal of judges;
  • That the decision to set up the RCI is tainted with conflict of interest and also premature as it is premised on "unsubstantiated and general allegation”; 
  • For the High Court to declare that the appropriate action is for the relevant authorities to first investigate the allegation; and
  • For cost and other relief as the court may deem fit.

Former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram also mooted a similar alternative.

However, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has maintained that the government is interested in pursuing an RCI.

Putrajaya had in February agreed to set up an RCI after Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer alleged widespread corruption and abuses in the judiciary.

Four months on, however, the commission has yet to materialise.

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