Sharifah Hasidah: Sarawak, Peninsula Malaysia need to bridge gap in ADR practice

Suriyadi (right) presenting a memento to Sharifah Hasidah.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, June 15: There is a need to identify, address and bridge the gap in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) practice, in which parties resolve disputes outside the courtroom, between Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak.

Deputy Minister of Law, MA63 and State-Federal Relations Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Gazali emphasised that in Sarawak, issues with regards to the service of documents to the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) Malaysia’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur continues to pose as a challenge given the geographical distance between East and West Malaysia.

“It is therefore important for local players to equip themselves with the requisite tools to effectively utilise ADR in fostering an environment of dispute avoidance (or to resolve inevitable disputes) – ultimately to overcome and minimise legal risks that may affect Sarawak’s development process.

“With various plans for infrastructure developments, foreign investments, increased participation of international entities, as well as spillover effects from the establishment of new Indonesian capital in Kalimantan, there will be an unprecedented rise in the number of cross-border disputes in Sarawak,” she said.

Sharifah Hasidah highlighted this in her keynote remarks at the AIAC’s Roadshow titled ‘Future of ADR in Sarawak’ held at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here today.

AIAC director Tan Sri Datuk Suriyadi Halim Omar was among the distinguished guests present.

The event saw the attendance of more than 100 professionals from different backgrounds with one objective; to elevate the status of ADR in Sarawak to position Malaysia as the preferred ADR seat and venue for local and international hearings.

In Sarawak’s foray of various new ventures, Sharifah Hasidah pointed out that disputes are inevitable, whether domestic or international commercial transactions, while noting that disputes involving complex subject matters will be subjected to cultural nuances and cross-border complexities.

“This is where ADR should be available to resolve disputes expediently. ADR’s distinctive characteristics are favourable for business and individuals alike.

“Moreover, the advancement of ADR in Sarawak may also contribute to the second strategic thrust under the Post-Covid Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030 which is to improve the ease of doing business and making Sarawak an investment destination of choice for foreign investors,” she said.

She also extended an invitation to fellow Sarawakians to engage further in the AIAC’s capacity building efforts and apply for empanelment with the AIAC and build their skills further in this niche area.

At the event, the AIAC Malaysia together with the ADR practitioners in Sarawak have pledged their commitment in enhancing the status of Malaysia’s ADR in Sarawak after both parties exchanged their views and suggestions.

Experienced ADR speakers from Sarawak namely George A.W. Chapman, Alex Ngu Sze Shae, Satinder Singh Sandhu and AIAC’s Balqis Azhar explored the discussion on the future of ADR in Sarawak and related matters that were both interesting and engaging.

The AIAC is an international organisation established in 1978 pursuant to a Host Country Agreement between the Malaysian government and the Asian African Legal Consultative Organisation. — DayakDaily