Shafie Lets A-G Deal With Legal Challenge

KOTA KINABALU: Caretaker Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal is leaving it to the State Attorney- General to handle a legal bid to stop the forthcoming state election.

But he is confident the absolute authority of the Head of State to dissolve the assembly would not be brought into question.

“I don’t wish to preempt it, let the legal process be done but I’m confident the court will not overturn it,” he said to reporters here today.

Stressing that all requirements had been adhered to, Shafie said it had also been made known that he had made a request to Tun Juhar Mahiruddin to dissolve the assembly on June 29.

“Well before the other side announced they had the numbers,” he said.

“The process in fact began even earlier in terms of advising the Head of State in my capacity as chief minister.”

Under the state constitution he said it was the Head of State who had the sole authority when it comes to the dissolving the assembly.

Earlier today it was reported that a lawyer and two businesswomen have filed for a judicial review to stop the state elections in view of the current Covid-19 threat.

According to the Star, local lawyer Marcel Jude, Margret Binsing from Tambunan and Tessa Romana from Penampang are seeking a High Court order to quash  Juhar’s decision to dissolve the state assembly on July 30.

They are also seeking an order against the Election Commission chairman not to conduct the state election unless all movement control orders are uplifted or provisions were made to allow for the Sabah state elections under the recovery movement control order (MCO).

In their court papers, the trio also sought a declaration that holding the state election during the term of the recovery MCO is unlawful, null and void.

Jude said that they had named Juhar as first respondent and the Election Commission chairman as second respondent in the suit filed via e-filing with the Kota Kinabalu High Court at noon Aug 2.

The High Court electronic system set Sept 14 for the court to hear their bid, Jude said.

They also hoped that the court considers an Erinford injunction granted against both Juhar and EC chairman until the conclusion of the appeal of Tan Sri Musa Aman in the Federal Court in respect of his claim to be the rightful Chief Minister of Sabah.

In their court papers, they said the MCO from March 18,2020, was tentatively scheduled to expire on August 31,2020

They argued that Sabah was currently under the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic and thanks to efforts by frontliners, the pandemic had been brought to a level of control but the danger remains.

“Therefore, this is not the time or place to have the state election because it will bring people together, creating crowded spaces and confined areas and remove physical distancing on a large scale for the population of Sabah, ” they said in their court filing.

This creates the possibility of the Covid-19 pandemic in Sabah getting out of control with increased infections and deaths, they said in the papers that also claimed that to hold an election would be highly prejudicial to the people of Sabah and endanger their health.

In the court documents, they said that the MCO does not allow for elections to be held or any activities concerning elections and if held, it should be after Aug 31.

They also said that the EC cannot hold the elections and the electoral rolls must first be cleaned up before the state election.

Elections must be held fairly and people who go to vote must do so in conditions that are safe and without any form of fear or insecurity, Jude, Binsing and Romana argued in their court papers.

Following the dissolution of the assembly on July 30, it is mandatory for the Election Commission to hold state elections within 60 days.