SUPP appalled by proposed LPB draft

Datuk Sebastian Ting

Secretary General of SUPP, Datuk Sebastian Ting said SUPP is very shocked and appalled to read the draft of the Legal Profession Bill 2019 (LPB 2019) proposed by the Malaysia Bar Council and was circulated among the legal fraternity, since yesterday.

The proposed draft LPB 2019 was prepared by the Bar Council of the Malaysian Bar and had been submitted to the Secretariat of the Federal Parliament for consideration to be tabled as Legal Profession Bill 2019 for debate and subsequently to be passed as Legal Profession Act 2019.

As the proposed draft of the LPB 2019 would have serious impact and consequences to the legal practices in both Sabah and Sarawak, Ting said the important question here is whether, in the preparation of the draft Legal Profession Bill 2019, there was any consultation or adequate consultation with the stake holders, namely The Sabah Law Society and The Advocates Association of Sarawak and the two governments of the day for Sabah and Sarawak.

The Sabah Law Society (SLS)  and Advocates Association Sarawak (AAS)
had just issued a joint statement dated 27th April 2019 that they were never consulted on this proposed draft Legal Profession Bill 2019 and that both SLS and AAS and they categorically opposed the provisions containing both the extension of the Legal Profession Act 2019 (LPA 2019) and the repeal of the Advocates Ordinances of Sabah and Sarawak as contained in the draft Legal Profession Bill 2019.

“It is indeed very disappointing that a responsible The Bar Council had chosen not to consult the stakeholders, both SLS and AAS on this important proposed draft Legal Profession Bill 2019.  We would not be surprised if both the Governments of Sabah and Sarawak were not consulted at all on this proposed draft Legal Profession Bill 2019.The Bar Council must have  considered, discussed and thus decided in their numerous meetings that it was not necessary at all to consult SLS, AAS and the Governments of Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.

Ting said he  did not know their reasons for not consulting SLS, AAS and the Governments of Sabah and Sarawak.

“Was it due an inadvertent oversight, or pure arrogance and or was it a case of them of sending a message that the lawyers in Sabah and Sarawak are insignificant, exhibiting their inner thoughts of brushing Sabah and Sarawak aside, because to them, Sabah and Sarawak are only two out the 13th States of Malaysia, just like Kedah and Perlis.

Will The Bar Council issue a statement to clarify their position ?” he asked.

Had the Malaysia Bar Council consulted SLS and AAS and the Governmemts of Sabah and Sarawak, Ting pointed out,  this draft Bill might not have surfaced in this present form and thus
the reaction to the proposed draft Legal Profession Bill 2019 would not have been so furious and fierce.  Our fellow lawyers in Peninsula Malaya should not take our lawyers in Sabah and Sarawak for granted and should instead show mutual respect for each other, so that our nation can move further as One.

Clause 211(2) is very clear of its intention, which is to repeal The Advocates Ordinance of Sabah ( Sabah Cap 2) and The Advocates Ordinance of Sarawak ( Cap 110) on the coming into operation of this Act in Sabah and Sarawak

SUPP believes that the above is not in line with the Federal Constitution, against the spirit of the formation of Malaysia and against the
safeguards for Sabah and Sarawak with the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

We must reiterate this important fact that both The Advocates Ordinances of Sabah and Sarawak are pre MALAYSIA Ordinances and they are considered to be Federal law.

Can section 211(2) then repeal our Advocates Ordinances by the passing of this Draft Legal Profession Bill 2019?

Indeed, he said, the draft Legal Profession Bill 2019 cannot repeal our Advocates Ordinance of Sarawak.

“We are of the opinion that our respective Sabah and Sarawak DUNS are proper legislative assemblies and  authority to consider, amend and repeal our own Ordinances as this had been one of our few safeguards during the formation of Malaysia that our own Ordinances, pre formation of Malaysia, shall remain our Sabah and Sarawak respective laws and these Ordinances were NOT repealed at the time when Malaysia came into existence or be repealed by an Act of Parliament without the consent of our  Sarawak DUN or Sarawak Legislative Assembly.

In addition,  the proposed Bill is likely to breach Article 161B of the Federal Constitition.

It states: “(1) In so far as any provision made by or under an Act of Parliament, by removing or altering a residence qualification, confers a right to practise before a court in the States of Sabah and Sarawak or either of them on persons not previously having due right, that provision shall not come into operation until adopted in the States or State in question by an enactment of the legislature.”

Further,  Ting said, we need to refer to Paragraph 4(d) of the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report Annex A which reads as follows,

“Restriction on the lines of the existing Borneo legislation should be continued, so that practice at the local Bar would, subject to certain exceptions provided for in that legislation, be restricted to resident advocates, until otherwise agreed by the Borneo State Legislatures”.

It was agreed that during the formation of Malaysia, the exclusive rights of the Sarawak Bar to practise in respect of all Sarawak matters as stated in the Advocates Ordinance of Sarawak before Malaysia Day would continue. The Ordinance remains good law and applies only to Sarawak. As stated above,  only the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly can repeal the Advocates Ordinance of Sarawak.

The draft Legal Profession Bill 2019 in this present form must not be allowed and SUPP hopes all the 56 Members of Parliament ( 25 MPS in Sabah and 31 MPS) will vote against it if it is presented and tabled to Parliament for debate.

Sabah and Sarawak should come together and be on the same page on this important matter, he added.

Datuk Sebastian Ting

Datuk Sebastian Ting