Chief Judge: Amend laws that strips power to appoint judicial commissioners

A file photo of Tan Sri David Wong Dak Wah delivering his speech during the National Colloquium on Access to Justice 2020 recently.

KUCHING, Jan 17: Relevant parties are urged to look into Article 122AB of the Federal Constitution, which took away the power of the respective governors of both Sabah and Sarawak to appoint judicial commissioners.

In making the call, outgoing Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri David Wong Dak Wah has urged relevant stakeholders to look into the matter, noting that it is vital to ensure that there are judges of Borneo judicial experience in the various State Superior Courts to deal with matters peculiar to respective states.

“Of course the law as it stands now does not require the chief justice to empanel a member of the appellate court of possessing Borneo judicial experience. Speaking personally, it is my hope that one day this will be changed.

“That said, we are fortunate and grateful that the chief justice has seen fit to continue the practice of her predecessor in requiring the presence of the judge of Borneo judicial experience in an appellate panel,” he said in his speech during the opening of the Legal Year 2020 themed Justice and Beyond here today.

Wong added that Article 122AB of the Constitution, which was passed in 1994 without the consent of the respective state governments, thus contravened Article 161E(2)(b) of the Federal Constitution.


“I urge the relevant stakeholders to look into this. This amendment took away the power of the respective Tuan-Yang Terutama’s (governor) power to appoint judicial commissioners.

“The rationale of this provision was to ensure that there are judges of Borneo judicial experience in the various State Superior Courts to deal with matters peculiar to respective states,” he continued.

Wong said will soon embarking on a new phase of life which is called “retirement” and pointed out that it was his last speech as the Chief Judge for Sabah and Sarawak.

At the same time, Wong revealed that the judiciary of Sabah and Sarawak will be launching three new applications to facilitate legal processes and procedures, namely the artificial intelligence (AI) for sentencing, Self-Representing Litigants Apps and the social media website for the East Malaysian Courts.

Wong recalled that during his three years tenure working in Sarawak, he had the opportunity to work with the information technology personnel from Sarawak Information Systems Sdn Bhd (SAINS) to enhance the judiciary system in Sarawak.

“We now have an apps for the judiciary of East Malaysia which allows judges and lawyers to manage their works. For the lawyers, they can access their files, file in documents and check on the status of their cases from that apps from anywhere in the world.

“For judges, they are also able to access their files with details as to their status in terms of timeline for finishing their trials, delivery of decisions and grounds.”

Thus, he believed technology is forever changing and the Judiciary of Sabah and Sarawak is aware of the fact and had not rested on its laurels. — DayakDaily

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