KOTA KINABALU: All eyes are on two key events in Sabah today – the Election Commission’s (EC) announcement of the date of the snap state election and the High Court hearing of a bid by 33 assemblymen to put on hold the dissolution of the assembly.
In an earlier invite, the EC had timed the press conference at 10am today but later rescheduled it to 4pm.
The legal attempt by the assemblymen, led by former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman, was to question the July 30 dissolution by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri.
The Warisan Plus state government led by caretaker Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (pic) called for snap polls after his political nemesis claimed that he had an alliance of 33 assemblymen, enough to form a government with a simple majority in the 65-member House.
Under the constitution, the 16th Sabah state election must be held within 60 days from the date of dissolution.
As the political parties gear up for the polls, at the back of their minds is whether the High Court hearing will have any bearing on the election.
On Aug 7, Sarawak-based High Court judge Judicial Commissioner Leonard Chin set Aug 17 to hear further arguments from the lawyers on whether the court had judicial authority to hear and decide on the bid by the 33 assemblymen.
Chin wanted more written submissions from lawyers from both sides on the justiciability, or whether the court could or could not look into the powers of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri to dissolve the state legislative assembly.
Justiciability concerns the limits upon which a court can exercise its judicial authority.
Following the dissolution, the 33 assemblymen led by Musa took the legal challenge against the decision of Tun Juhar Mahiruddin to dissolve the state assembly under Article 21 of the state constitution without considering Musa, whom the group said could have been sworn in as chief minister as he had sufficient numbers in the 65-member House.
The 33 assemblymen named the governor, Shafie, EC and state government as respondents in the application for leave for a judicial review.
Musa’s lawyer Tengku Fuad Ahmad had told reporters last week that the crux of their argument was that the governor was improperly advised to dissolve the legislature under Article 7(1) of the state constitution and they were challenging the proclamation of election.
State Attorney General Brenndon Keith Soh, representing the state government, and senior federal counsels Suzana Atan and Narkunavathy Sundareson had argued in court that it was the governor’s prerogative to dissolve the assembly and it could not be challenged.
For lawyers on both sides, they do not rule out some kind of decision by the judge today, adding that any decision could be appealed.
Meanwhile, Shafie said that the Pakatan Harapan coalition parties in Sabah might contest under one logo in the coming snap polls.
He said that like the previous election where PKR, DAP and other Pakatan coalition parties had used only PKR’s logo to contest, it could be the same this time, using Warisan’s logo.
“But we have yet to finalise (the proposal) as discussions are ongoing,” he said, adding that local-based parties like Upko would most likely stick to using their own party emblem.–The Star