High Court dismisses Petronas' stay application in Sarawak govt suit

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KUCHING (Feb 11): The High Court here today dismissed an application by Petronas for a stay of proceedings in the Sarawak Government’s suit against the national oil corporation over the payment of State Sales Tax (SST).

Judicial Commissioner Christopher Chin made the ruling in chambers in the presence of Petronas' counsel Alvin Chong and state government's legal adviser, Datuk Seri J C Fong. 

Chin said the decision was made after taking into consideration his earlier ruling to dismiss Petronas' application to recuse him from hearing the suit on Jan 23.

"Hence, to stay these proceedings in the absence of any direct aspersions against me would be a failing in my part to discharge my sworn duty, an endorsement of a flaw in the system of confirmation of judicial commissioners and represent a fault in our constitutional provisions relating to the judicial institution," he said. 

Following his ruling today, the hearing for the suit  has been fixed to commence on March 13.

Petronas, through its lead counsel Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, submitted the application for stay of proceedings on Feb 6 pending their appeal against Chin's decision for refusing to recuse himself from hearing the suit. 

The Sarawak Comptroller of SST and the state government filed a writ of summons and statement of claim against Petronas on Nov 21 to recover the state sales tax owed by the national oil and gas company to the state.