KUCHING – There are some junior lawyers who do not know who the chief minister of Sabah is.
This shocking revelation came from Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum in his speech at the Third Advocacy Skills Seminar, here Saturday.
“Some years ago, we asked a junior lawyer about who was Sabah’s Chief Minister. The reply we got was ‘some Chinaman around’,” Malanjum recalled, expressing his utter shock.
Malanjum had urged junior lawyers to widen their scope of knowledge not just on legal matters, but other issues.
The seminar was organised by Legal Plus Sdn Bhd in collaboration with the Advocates Association of Sarawak, Malaysia Inner Temple Alumni Association and the Lincoln’s Inn Alumni Association of Malaysia here.
After the seminar, while speaking to reporters, Malanjum said lawyers in Sabah and Sarawak might need to fulfil “a certain number of hours” attending courses and seminars to have their annual practising certificates renewed from 2018.
Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak said he was discussing the matter with the Attorney General’s Office and relevant stakeholders.
He said he preferred that the final decision on the implementation of the proposal be made on a consensus basis by all parties.
According to Malanjum, as the chief judge of the two Borneo states, he has the authority to formulate the rules, but would rather have a consensus with the stakeholders.
He added he was not certain if legal practitioners in peninsular Malaysia are required to attend courses before their certificates are renewed.
He also said it is mandatory for legal practitioners in Australia to attend courses and seminars.
“At the moment, we are still discussing the matter as there are pros and cons. We need to look into how we formulate the rules.
“Nevertheless, a consensus from associations and the Attorney General is needed before we can implement this.
“Hopefully, it can be implemented in 2018,” Malanjum was quoted as saying to the Star online.
The initiative is akin to the issuing of annual Practising Certificates (APC) to medical practitioners by the Malaysian Medical Council.
Malanjum said he was serious in introducing such a policy to expand the knowledge of lawyers on Sabah and Sarawak, particularly junior law practitioners.
He said Sabah and Sarawak lawyers have been called ‘jaguh kampung’ (local hero) due to the lack in advocacy skills and discipline to follow fundamental court rules and guidelines.
“Actually it is good for lawyers to attend refresher courses. We are floating with this idea to improve the standard of the profession,” he added.
Some 50 law practitioners attended the two-day seminar that offers nine Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points from the Bar Council Malaysia.
Judging by the number, Malanjum believed the proposal would receive positive response from the law fraternity here.
The Sabah Law Association and the Advocates’s Association of Sarawak respectively regulate about 3,000 lawyers in both regions.