KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Democratic Action Party (DAP) yesterday claimed that the transfer of five judges from Sabah is an attempt by the federal government to strengthen its grip on Sabah affairs.
Its chairman Jimmy Wong Sze Phin said the reason given for the mass transfer was aimed at promoting the career of those involved and improving the judiciary was simply unacceptable.
Furthermore, he said the statement in justifying the move, which came in the form of a brief statement from the Chief Judge of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak Office, may not necessarily reflect the actual view of the Chief Judge himself.
"The justification was not made by Tan Sri Richard Malanjum himself, but the statement simply mentioned the Office and not issued by Richard himself.
"Of course, I hope it really is not the real agenda behind the transfer but if the federal government is really sincere about Borneonisation and respect the rights of Sabah, it should leave it to the State to determine and decide on its own affairs, including the judiciary," said Jimmy in press conference here.
He argued that even if the judges were to be transferred to expose them to different environments, their positions should be filled by other Sabahans to ensure the judicial rights of the State remain intake and respected by the federal government.
He expressed concern that the transfer might have a far-reaching implications, especially on the indigenous rights of the people of Sabah.
He said Peninsular Malaysian judges might not have the intimate understanding of the native customary rights and therefore would fail to defend them in court cases.
Jimmy said Sabah BN should at the very least make its stand on the issue clear instead of keeping silent.
He added the State Government also needed to make its view clear on the many other issues concerning the special rights of Sabah within Malaysia, especially with regard to the issue of high ranking positions in government departments in Sabah being monopolized by Peninsular Malaysians.
He claimed that more than half of the positions available in Sabah were filled by non-Sabahans, unlike Sarawak where the majority of the government officers were locals.
Jimmy also questioned the sincerity of the Federal Government in giving the assurance that the court ruling, banning the use of the word "Allah" in the Herald would not affect Sabah, noting that thousands of copies of the publication were confiscated in the State.
He also accused the central government of not having the commitment and sincerity to deal with the illegal immigrants problem in Sabah, saying that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak failed to include any specific allocation for implementing the recommendations that might be given by the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Illegal Immigrants.