State government waits for lawyer’s association to make stand on legal profession bill

A picture of the top portion of the first page of the draft Legal Profession Bill 2019 that has been in circulation in the legal fraternity.

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, April 26: The state government will let the Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS) make its stance on the draft copy of the Legal Profession Bill 2019 known, before responding on the matter.

A highly placed source has confirmed the authenticity of the draft, which has been in circulation among the legal fraternities.

“The draft bill was submitted to Parliamentary Draughtsman Office, who sent it out to seek feedback for discussion in July this year. The bill comes from the Bar Council of Malaya and it is not a government bill,” said the source.

The source however pointed out that for the time being, the Sarawak Government needed to refrain from making its stand known because AAS, which is the custodian of the Advocates Ordinance of Sarawak, may hold a different view from the Sarawak Government.

“The AAS should first take an official stand on this matter and the State Government would protect the interests of the legal profession in Sarawak based on the official stand of the AAS,” said the source.

A draft Legal Profession Bill 2019 of 182 pages has been in circulation among the legal fraternities.

The draft bill, though has yet to be finalised and tabled, has raised alarm among Sarawak lawmakers including Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii and Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

The former objected to it based on its current wording, as he believed if tabled as is, the bill would repeal the Advocates Ordinance of Sarawak and Advocates Ordinance of Sabah.

The Advocates Ordinance of Sarawak has been safeguarding the privileges of Sarawak legal professionals whereby Malayan lawyers who seek to practice here must obtain permission from AAS.

Wan Junaidi, who shared the same view as Dr Yii, said the AAS will be abolished by the operation of the law under this draft bill.

This according to him, meant that the two States of Sarawak and Sabah legal profession would lose control of the States’ legal practitioners and have no more authority over the legal profession as provided for under the respective States’ ordinances. — DayakDaily