Court of Appeal judges’ experience in context of Sabah and Sarawak should be considered, says Baru

Baru speaking to reporters at the PBB Dayak Ministers’ Open House DBNA headquarters in Kuching today (June 16, 2019).

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By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, June 16: In contrast with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s stance, Sarawak Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) chief Baru Bian holds the opinion that “judge with Bornean experience” as mentioned in the Inter-Governmental Commission Report 1962 (IGC Report) may include judges from Malaya who are familiar with Sarawak and Sabah.

“…if you talk about what ‘Bornean experience’ means, of course, the argument is that there should be somebody from the Bornean States, that sits on the appeal on hearing of the cases that come up to appeal in the federal court.

“But Borneon experience could be any of the judges that could be from the Semenanjung too but have the exposure in the context of Sabah and Sarawak, I think that is probably be the more acceptable interpretation and understanding of that.

“Because we also have to give credit to judges. They are learned people and they learn the law. And basically experiences should just be another additional thing to help them in deciding cases before them. So I think that is very crucial — experience in the context of Sabah and Sarawak,” Baru told the media when met at Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) Dayak Ministers’ Open House at Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA) headquarters here today.

Baru, who is also Works Minister, was asked to respond to Abang Johari’s statement last night during the State Gawai Celebration here.

Abang Johari had asserted that High Court cases reviewed in the Appellate Court and Federal Court should include at least one judge from either Sarawak or Sabah.

Abang Johari said he brought up the issue for discussion in the Steering Cabinet Committee for the review of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (and IGC Report) as he believed that normally, Court of Appeal of cases, which originated from the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak, are heard by judges who are not from the two East Malaysian States.

In Paragraph 25(4) of the IGC Report, it is stated that a judge of “Bornean judicial experience” must sit in on any case in the Federal Court that originates from Sarawak and Sabah.

“This is an issue you all know that I have raised before which is consistent with our desire as recorded in IGC,” said Baru, who agreed with Abang Johari that this was a relevant issue that needed to be dealt with though the two interpreted “Bornean experience” differently.

“That is one of the issues that we raised. So I think it is a very relevant issue, and the only problem now is that there is no clear provision of the law but this was the understanding that we had as I have said in the IGC. So we hope that this would be considered.

“Yes, Indeed it has been raised. This is one of the issues that have yet to be decided. So we just leave it as such for the time being. Many other issues are still under discussion, so that is correct, that was one of the things that we addressed, so we hope that there would be some understanding on this matter,” he said.

Meanwhile, for Paragraph 25(4) of the IGC Report to take effect, it may involve amending the Federal Constitution.

“Eventually, that probably will be deemed necessary, because there has to be a clear provision of the law so that there should not be any debate on the matter.

“So I think that is a reasonable conclusion that one should have. As I have said, it is still under the discussion for the technical committee, I think it will eventually raised in the steering committee.

“I really hope that there will be some understanding and some conclusion on this, that is final,” Baru said. — DayakDaily