`Proposed legal profession amendment bill aims to strip Sarawak, Sabah of their rights’

Rita Insol

KUCHING, April 27: Lawyer Rita Insol opined that the proposed amendment to extend the Legal Profession Act to Sabah and Sarawak is an attempt to remove the rights of these two Borneon states under Article 63 of the Malaysia Agreement and Article 161B of the Federal Constitution.

She cautioned that the proposed extension of the Act to the two states (see section 1(2) of the draft Legal Profession Bill), if successful, would remove the exclusive rights of advocates in Sarawak to practise in Sarawak.

Further, Section 211(2) of the proposed bill also proposed to repeal the Advocates Ordinances of the two states.

“However, Article 161B of the Federal Constitution also provides a saving clause, in that any provision to remove or alter the residence qualification to confer a right to practice before a court in Sabah and Sarawak shall not come into operation unless the respective legislative assemblies of the two states pass an enactment to adopt the Legal Profession Act,” said the former Magistrate and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) deputy secretary-general in a statement today.

Rita explained that advocates in Sarawak and Sabah were governed by their respective Advocates Ordinance. Section 8 of the Sarawak Advocates Ordinance, 1958, confers an exclusive right to Sarawak advocates to practise in Sarawak.

Section 4 the same Ordinance specifies the criteria for admission to the Sarawak bar and one of the criteria states that the applicant must have  Sarawak connections, in that he has been born in Sarawak, he has been ordinarily resident in Sarawak for a continuous period of five years or more and that at the time of consideration of his application for admission, he is domiciled in Sarawak.

“The restriction on extension to non-residents to practise as an advocate in Sarawak and Sabah is specified in Article 63 of the Malaysia Agreement 1963. This restriction is enshrined in Article 161B of the Federal Constitution,” she shared. — DayakDaily