Judicial review application includes starting point to calculate 40% revenue for Sabah, says SLS

KOTA KINABALU: The judicial review application filed by the Sabah Law Society (SLS) regarding state revenue duties is a comprehensive solution to resolve outstanding issues regarding the 40% duty owed to Sabah by Putrajaya.

SLS member Dr David Fung explained that their action was different from the original summons previously filed by a group of politicians.

He said SLS also offered a list of remedies in its application to resolve the range of complex issues arising from the payment of the 40% net revenue to Sabah.

“Our remedies are such that they tackle head-on the various issues that arise from the promise of this 40% payment (to the state by the federal government),” he told a conference. release here, Friday, June 10.

“The assurances were given by the Federal Government of Malaysia and the State Government would be the trustee.

“That’s why we’ve run this action as it is so that the party (federal government) eventually has to pay, but not just any amount. (It has to be) the amount that was promised, which is 40%,” he said.

SLS chairman Roger Chin said that one of the main remedies of their action was that he was trying to introduce a formula to calculate and arrive at the actual assessment of the 40% duty.

“It’s easy to say 40% (must be paid) under the Federal Constitution, but what is the 40% essentially? Without further indication, it’s not even an easy number to reach, because we just don’t know what the components of net income are.

“So if we are successful with this action, then there will be guidance so that federal and state governments finally know exactly how the calculation should be done and how to arrive at the number,” he said.

Chin added that the two governments could move negotiations forward with a clear formula on the table.

“They can then decide if they want to increase or decrease the value but the starting point has to be there. So this action, among other things, is hoping that a formula can be clearly spelled out,” he said.

The SLS held the press conference to clear up any confusion behind their request for judicial review as well as to explain the difference between their action and the lawsuit filed by 12 lawmakers Sabah Pakatan Harapan previously.

SLS filed for judicial review on Thursday June 9 to, among other things, reverse Putrajaya’s publication of the annual grant for Sabah, claiming it did not comply with state revenue rights under the 1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63).

The application for judicial review was filed in the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak by SLS’s lawyers, Messrs. J Marimuttu & Partners.

The lawsuit comes after the federal government on April 24 released a five-year special annual grant of RM125.6 million for Sabah starting this year.

On June 3, 12 Pakatan MPs and Assembly members filed a lawsuit in the Kota Kinabalu High Court seeking a declaration of Sabah’s right to a 40% share of federal revenue.

They demand, among other things, a declaration that Sabah is entitled to 40% of the revenue derived by the federal government from the state each year to be “respected and delivered” as stated in the Constitution.

According to Chin, SLS has the locus standi to bring the action because it is a statutory body vested with the necessary statutory powers and authority “to defend the cause of justice without regard to its own interest or that of of its members”.

He said the SLS had in recent years become the voice for independent advice on legal matters and was not beholden to any political party.

“SLS’s goal is to uphold the law without fear or favor and that is why this action was passed unanimously by our members at our extraordinary general meeting to protect the right of 40% of Sabah,” he said, urging the public to support their action.

In addition to its statutory purposes, he said, the SLS was obligated under the statutory provisions set out in the Lawyers Ordinance (Sabah Cap 2) to uphold and ensure that the Federal Constitution is also respected at all times.