Say no to extension of Legal Profession Bill to Sarawak and Sabah, Chong urges lawyers

Sulok Tawie
Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen speaks to reporters at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur April 8, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUCHING, April 26 — Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen has rallied the legal fraternity of East Malaysia to oppose the extension of the Malaysian Bar Council’s proposed Legal Profession Bill to their states.

Chong, who is the Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, today urged Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS) and the Sabah Law Society to formally express their objection towards the extension of the proposed Bill.

The Stampin MP pointed out that the words “Sabah and Sarawak” in Clause 1(2) of the draft bill should be deleted, and the proposed law should only be applicable to Peninsular Malaysia.

He also said he wanted Clause 211(2), which seeks the repeal of Sarawak’s Advocates Ordinance and Advocates Ordinance of Sabah, to be deleted.

Chong, who is a lawyer by training, said he will help to ensure that the new LPA will not be extended to the two Borneo states.

He said the draft of Legal Profession Bill was proposed by the Bar Council in January this year, but has only gone viral among the Sarawak legal practitioners yesterday.

“I have clarified with the de facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Kiong who confirmed that this is merely a draft proposed by the Bar Council for feedback among the stakeholders,” he said, adding that the draft has not obtained any endorsement from the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government.

Urging the AAS to write to its counterpart in the peninsula, Chong said: “Let us stand together to defend the rights of the Sarawak legal profession as provided in the Federal Constitution when we formed Malaysia in 1963.”

Chong also hoped that the Sabah Law Society objects to any move to extend the LPA to Sabah.

He said of particular concern to the Sarawak legal fraternity about the draft bill is in Clause 1(2) which states that the minister may appoint different dates for the coming into operation of the different parts or provisions of the Act in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.

He said another concern is that this Act shall apply throughout Malaysia but shall only be made applicable to Sabah and Sarawak with such modifications as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may by order make, and such order shall be published in the Gazette.

“Many see it as an attempt to encroach upon Sarawak’s rights as currently LPA 1976 is not applicable to Sarawak and its legal profession is governed under the Sarawak’s Advocate Ordinance 1953 which sets out very different criteria for admission to practise as a lawyer,” he said.

“Nonetheless, I have conveyed to Datuk Liew the stand of Sarawak legal profession that we do not want the LPA to be extended to Sarawak,” Chong added.

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