Friday January 18, 2013
SNAP now officially and legally defunct
KUCHING: The 51-year-old Sarawak National Party (SNAP) is finally, officially and legally defunct.
The High Court’s decision to deregister the party 11 years ago has been upheld by the Federal Court in Kuala Lumpur.
Its president Edmund Stanley Jugol (pic), who confirmed this, said he was informed on the phone and email by his lawyer early yesterday.
“The Federal Court overruled the Court of Appeal’s decision which reinstated the party three years ago,” he told The Star yesterday.
Stanley said although he was a bit disappointed, he accepted the Federal Court’s decision as a law-abiding citizen.
Federal Court judge Tan Sri Abdull Hamid Embong, who chaired a five-member panel, held that the Registrar of Societies (ROS) was empowered under Section 16 (1) of the Societies Act 1966 to direct a party to settle its dispute.
The ROS, he said, needed to form an opinion whether there was a dispute as quickly as possible or else the fate of a society would be left in limbo, and all its activities would have to be suspended.
Justice Abdull Hamid said the decision to deregister SNAP was merely consequential to the failure of SNAP to comply with the ROS’ notice, adding that no reason was required under the law.
“There is no evidence of any bad faith or bias against SNAP when the ROS acted under section 13 (1) (c) (ix) (of the Societies Act). His (ROS) action is more administrative than quasi judicial, even though the rights of SNAP were affected,” he said.
The panel, also comprising Federal Court judges Tan Sri Suriyadi Halim Omar, Datuk Ahmad Maarop, Datin Paduka Zaleha Zahari and Datuk Sulong Matjeraie, awarded ROS a sum of RM20,000 in legal costs.
SNAP was deregistered on Nov 5, 2002 following its failure to resolve its leadership crisis.
The ROS had said then that SNAP leaders failed to respond satisfactorily to a show-cause letter issued to them.
SNAP was embroiled in a leadership crisis when its then president Datuk Amar James Wong Kim Min expelled Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing from the party in April, 2002 on grounds of party indiscipline.
Following Tiong’s expulsion, the party leadership was split into two factions — one headed by Wong and the other by his then vice-president Tan Sri William Mawan.
Mawan and his group subsequently formed Sarawak Progres-sive Democratic Party (SPDP).
SNAP’s then deputy president Datuk Justine Jinggut filed a judicial review of ROS’ ruling, but it was dismissed by the High Court on Sept 15, 2006.
He, however, obtained a stay of execution pending disposal of his appeal to the Court of Appeal.
In June 2010, the Court of Appeal decided to set aside SNAP’s deregistration by ROS.
Following the decision, ROS then filed its appeal to the Federal Court.
SNAP, one of Sarawak’s oldest parties, was formed on April 10, 1961.
It was the third party formed after Parti Negara Sarawak (Panas) opened the way for Dayak participation not only in preparing Sarawak for independence, but also for full involvement in political activities.
Although there were Dayaks in SUPP and Panas, Dayak interests in the two parties were secondary and their roles minimal.
SNAP was born in Betong and its formation was greatly wel-comed by the vast majority of Ibans.
Among the founders were Stephen Kalong Ningkan (who became its secretary-general), J. S. Tinker (chairman), Edward Howell, Edwin Howell, Ivory Kedit, Mathew Dana Ujai, David Lawrence Usit, Nyipa Julin and Lionel Bediman Ketit.
After serious thought, SNAP accepted non-Dayaks as party members in 1963 with Wong as the first Chinese to join it.
Others who later joined the party included Wee Hood Teck, Wee Boon Ping and Ho Ah Chon. Abang Othman Datuk Abang Moasili was the first Malay to join the party.
Hood Teck and Boon Ping became the main financiers of the party.
Their presence and that of other non-Dayaks made SNAP a multi-racial party, although the bulk of its members were Dayaks.
In 1983, SNAP shrunk when Tan Sri Leo Moggie and several Dayak leaders left and formed Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS).