Kuching legal fraternity marks opening of 2024 Legal Year with Red Mass at St Thomas’s Cathedral

Members of the legal fraternity taking group photo after the Red Mass service held at St. Thomas Cathedral on Jan 13, 2024.

By Christopher Lidom

KUCHING, Jan 13: About 100 members of the legal fraternity in Kuching participated in special service, known as the Red Mass for the Opening of Legal Year 2024 at St Thomas’s Cathedral today.

The one-hour special service was to seek God’s blessings for those working in the legal profession throughout the year.


In their distinctive open court attire, legal practitioners entered the Cathedral around 8am to commence the service.

Legal practitioners are seen donning the Open Court Attire during the service.

The First Reading of the Gospel was conducted by retired Court of Appeal judge Datuk Lee Heng Cheong, and the Second Reading was performed by High Court judge Leonard David Shim.

Subsequently, Bishop of the Anglican Church in Sarawak and Brunei, Right Reverend Datuk Danald Jute delivered a sermon during the service. Kota Sentosa assemblyman Wilfred Yap, also a lawyer, read the Act of Commitment.

Red Mass organiser, Reverend and lawyer Datuk Bong Ah Loi.

Speaking to reporters after the service, Red Mass organiser and lawyer Datuk Bong Ah Loi explained that one of the primary objectives of the event, now in its third edition, is to emphasise the importance and role of lawyers in implementing justice in the land.

“In the church context, we would use the Word of God to remind us of the role lawyers play in society. This is to contribute towards better justice in our land,” he elaborated.

Lawyer Arthur Lee.

On the same note, lawyer Arthur Lee shared that the tradition of the opening of a Legal Year event is rooted in the Anglican legal tradition, originating in the 11th century in the Church of England.

In this religious event, lawyers seek God’s blessing before the commencement of a new Legal Year.

Lee explained that the term Legal Year refers to the opening and closing of the year near Christmas, with the closing referred to as the ‘Michaelmas’ term in the judicial calendar.

“Although not a tradition in Sarawak, Sabah, and the Peninsula, it was adopted from the English Bar. Tun Datuk Seri Richard Malanjum, the Chief Justice of Sabah and Sarawak, initiated the opening of the Judicial Calendar with the Legal Year ceremony about 20 years ago, previously held in courts and continuing to this day,” he added.

The opening of the Legal Year alternates between Sabah and Sarawak, with this year’s event scheduled to take place in Sabah next week. – DayakDaily