PUTRAJAYA — Sept. 3, 2020: The Federal Court has ruled that the dismissal of Tan Sri Musa Aman as Sabah chief minister in 2018 should be heard on grounds of public interest.
In reaching this decision, one of three judges on the panel alluded to the fact that this was not the first time Sabahans had to face this kind of political turmoil and constitutional crisis — and it will not be the last if not finally resolved by this court.
Justice Abdul Rahman Sebli was apparently referring to the situation that ensued after the Sabah elections in 1985 and 1994.
In the elections on May 9, 2018, the Musa-led Barisan Nasional won 29 seats while the opposition consisting of Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal’s Warisan, DAP and PKR also won 29 seats while Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Star) won two.
BN and Star then formed a coalition which allowed Musa to be sworn in as CM on May 10 but two days later five assemblymen from Upko decided to support Shafie, who was then sworn in as CM.
Musa then sought a declaration from the court that he was the rightful CM because no vote of confidence had been taken against him.
In his judgment Rahman also spoke of the 2009 political and constitutional crisis from the removal of Perak mentri besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin served as another reminder that the issues raised by Musa in the leave questions needed to be resolved by the court.
Rahman and Justice Zabariah Mohd. Yusof had in a 2-1 ruling last week agreed that Musa’s complaint, though academic, should be heard.
But Justice Mohd. Zawawi Salleh, who chaired the bench, said the legal questions posed by Musa had no practical effect and would be a fruitless exercise.
He further pointed out that the 15th state assembly had been dissolved and the Election Commission had fixed nominations for September 12 and polling 14 days later.
Rahman agreed that the questions raised by Musa were of grave constitutional importance and had far reaching implications for the whole country.
“The people of Sabah have an inalienable right to know whether the removal of Musa was done validly, lawfully and in accordance with the constitution of Sabah.
“As it is, there is no closure yet on the issue of whether Musa had been lawfully removed from office,” outlined Rahman.
He also mentioned that the governor had dismissed Musa within approximately 48 hours after his appointment on May 10, 2018, when in fact there was no request for dissolution .
This was in contrast to the Perak case, where mentri besar Nizar had made a request to dissolve the assembly pursuant to Article 16(6) of the state constitution, which the Sultan of Perak denied.
On this point Rahman said that unlike the sultan, who is a Malay hereditary ruler, the office of the Sabah governor is a creation of the state’s constitution.
High Court judge Yew Jen Kie relied on the Perak case to hold that governor Tun Juhar Mahiruddin had the power to dismiss the CM.
Last November 28, the Court of Appeal struck out Musa’s appeal on the grounds that Shafie now enjoyed majority support.