2 MLJ 187
STEPHEN KALONG NINGKAN v TUN ABANG HAJI OPENG AND TAWI SLI
HARLEY AGCJ (BORNEO)
KUCHING CIVIL SUIT NO K 45 OF 1966
7 September 1966
Constitutional Law -- Constitution of the State of Sarawak, Articles 1, 5, 6, 7, 10, 24 and 44 -- Whether Governor has power to dismiss Chief Minister -- Allegation that Chief Minister has ceased to command the confidence of majority in Council Negri -- Lack of confidence may be demonstrated only by vote in Coucil Negri.
Article 6(3) of the Constitution of the State of Sarawak gives power to the Governor to appoint as Chief Minister a member of the Council Negri who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of a majority of the members of the Council Negri; while Article 7(1) provides that if the Chief Minister ceases to command the confidence of a majority of the members of the Council Negri, then unless at his request the Governor dissolves the Council Negri the Chief Minister shall tender the resignation of the members of the Supreme Council. On the 16th June 1966, the Governor of Sarawak (the first defendant) received a letter signed by 21 members of the Council Negri to the effect that the writers had no longer any confidence in the plaintiff, their Chief Minister. The Governor thereupon wrote and informed the plaintiff on the 16th June that from representations he had received he was satisfied that the plaintiff had ceased to command the confidence of the Council Negri and invited the plaintiff to resign. The plaintiff in his reply of the 17th June informed the Governor that the Governor's views as to the loss of confidence of the members of the Council Negri in the plaintiff was not supported by the meeting of the Council Negri held on the 14th June and the plaintiff in the same letter requested that he be supplied with the names of the persons who had signed the representations. In reply to this letter the Governor in his letter of the 1966 2 MLJ 187 at 188
same date informed the plaintiff that as the plaintiff had refused to tender the resignation of members of the Supreme Council in accordance with Article 7(1) of the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (although the plaintiff had ceased to have the confidence of a majority of the members of the Council Negri) he declared that the plaintiff and other members of the Supreme Council had ceased to hold office and appointed the second defendant as Chief Minister forthwith. The Governor also forwarded a list of the names of persons who had signed the representations as requested by the plaintiff. The plaintiff thereupon commenced proceedings against the Governor and the second defendant claiming the following reliefs: (a) a declaration that the Governor acted unconstitutionally when he declared on the 17th June that the plaintiff had ceased to hold the office of Chief Minister; (b) a declaration that the Governor should not have relieved the plaintiff from the office of Chief Minister on the ground of alleged loss of confidence in the plaintiff as Chief Minister: (c) a declaration that the purported dismissal of the plaintiff by the Governor was ultra vires, null and void; (d) a declaration that the plaintiff is and has been at all material times the Chief Minister of Sarawak and (e) an injunction restraining the second defendant from acting as Chief Minister.
(1) the Governor of Sarawak was limited by Article 6(3) of the Constitution of Sarawak to appointing as Chief Minister a member of the Council Negri who in his judgment was likely to command the confidence (and approval) of the Council Negri and therefore it followed by section 21 of the Interpretation Ordinance that only when the Council Negri had shown lack of confidence (and lack of approval) could the Governor's power to dismiss, if it exists, be exercised....