20 January 2009

Sabah A-G quits as legal adviser

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Attorney-General Datuk Anthony Roderic Fernandez (pic) dropped a bombshell in the midst of the high-profile Mazu statue civil suit by quitting as the state’s top legal adviser.

Fernandez submitted his resignation to Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah on Friday. However, he told The Star that his resignation was due to “personal and family reasons.”

“It is just the timing. It has nothing to do with it (Mazu case),” said the 50-year-old Fernandez, who headed the state’s defence in the suit by former chief minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat over the revocation of approval for the Mazu statue by the state government.

The sudden resignation of Fernandez, who was appointed for a three-year term as state Attorney-General in May 2006, came to light at the hearing of the Mazu case before Judicial Commissioner Yew Jen Kie at the High Court here yesterday.

The court was informed that a legal firm, Shelley Yap Leong Tseu Chong Chia and Co, has now been appointed by the state to represent three of the four defendants including Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman following Fernandez’s resignation.

The state’s new defence lawyer Richard Barnes asked the court to adjourn the case for three months. Lawyers for the plaintiffs did not object. The court set May 4 as the next hearing date.

Fernandez was a senior partner in the legal firm Shelley Yap before taking up the Sabah Attorney-General’s position. Chong was the retired partner of the same company.

Last week, Chong testified in the case and was scheduled for cross-examination by Fernandez yesterday.

Apart from Musa, the other defendants in the suit are former State Secretary Datuk K.Y. Mustafa, permanent secretary to the Local Government and Housing Ministry Datuk Ujang Sulani and the Kudat Town Board.

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