Warisan to appeal court decision striking out suit over Sebatik seat

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan will appeal the High Court’s decision to strike out its bid to declare the Sebatik state seat vacant after Hassan Gani Amir Gani defected to another party.

“Yes, we are appealing,” Warisan president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said on Friday (June 24), adding that he had directed their lawyers to study Thursday’s (June 23) decision.

Warisan secretary-general Datuk Loretto Padua said he would brief the party supreme council about the decision.

On Thursday, High Court judge Wong Siong Tung struck out the suit, ruling that an elected representative should be able act on his own independent judgement and not be legally constrained by the party or the electorate.

He said the combination of undated signed resignation letters and pledge of loyalty to Warisan prior to the 2020 state election equalled an unlawful scheme.

“Any causes of action based on such an arrangement (pre-signed resignation and pledges of loyalty) to deprive such freedom cannot be sustained in law.

“The appropriate penalty of the elected member of legislature for broken political promises is for the voters or electors to consider voting differently at the next opportunity,” he said in his judgement.

Warisan had filed a suit for a breach of contract in their bid to declare the Sebatik seat vacant which Hassan won on a Warisan ticket in the Sept 26, 2020 Sabah election.

On Feb 25, 2021, Hassan defected to the ruling Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) coalition, which forms the state government.

Warisan sought to enforce a “pledge of loyalty” and a “pre-signed, undated letter of resignation” both of which Hassan did.

According to Warisan’s suit, Hassan had an obligation or equitable duty to vacate his seat in the event that he broke his pledge of loyalty.

Hassan was the first Warisan assemblyman to defect and was followed by five others over the past two years. Warisan won 23 of the 73 state seats in the state assembly in the 2020 snap state polls.

Hassan’s case is seen as the party’s first test case as it intends to initiate action against other defectors who had allegedly signed similar undated letters of resignation.