NGO highlights hidden danger in draft Legal Profession Bill 2019

Court. — DayakDaily.com file pic. // Photo: Pixabay

KUCHING, April 26: The provisions in the draft copy of the Legal Profession Bill 2019 can be found in the current Legal Profession Act (LPA) 1976 at Sections 1, 2 and 152, but the extension has not come into force for Sabah and Sarawak.

Sarawak Patriots Association (SPA) secretary David Hii Chin Loung explained this in response to the circulation of a proposed draft bill among Sarawak legal practitioners yesterday.

The draft copy states that `The Advocates Ordinance of Sabah [Sabah Cap. 2] and the Advocates Ordinance of Sarawak [Sarawak Cap. 110] shall be repealed on the coming into operation of this Act in Sabah and Sarawak.’

The draft further states that the `Act shall only be made applicable to Sabah and Sarawak with such modifications as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may by order make; and such order shall be published in the Gazette” and that `The Minister may appoint different dates for the coming into operation of the different parts or provisions of this Act and different dates may be appointed for the coming into operation of this Act in West Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.’

“However so, SPA would like to urge both Sarawakian and Sabahan Members of Parliament (MPs) to reject the said provisions containing the said extension of the LPA to Sabah and Sarawak,” he said in a press statement today.

“The LPA has not been extended to Sabah and Sarawak as of date, and the legal professions in Sabah and Sarawak are governed by their respective Ordinances.”

Hii pointed out that special safeguards were included in the Federal Constitution of Malaysia to protect the interests of Sarawakians in the Malaysian Federation, such as, inter alia, the independence of the Sarawak High Court and limitations on the practice of law to resident lawyers.

“This is an exclusive right that is protected under Article 161B of the Federal Constitution,” he said.

“These safeguards and assurances provided to Sarawak are critical and pivotal to secure the participation of Sarawak in the formation of Malaysia,” he added.

He stressed that to allow such provisions to remain would be an erosion or an attempt of an erosion of this exclusive right given to Sarawakians and Sabahans and would, thus, be an infringement of the constitutional rights of Sarawakians.

“The rights of Sarawakians must be respected as guaranteed in the Federal Consitution,” he reminded. — DayakDaily