Tiang urges for stringent scrutiny on applications of non-Sarawakian lawyers

Michael Tiang

KUCHING, Aug 28: Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Central Youth chief Michael Tiang hopes that the High Court of Sarawak will continue to scrutinise the applications by non-resident lawyers to be allowed to practise in Sarawak.

The scrutiny, he emphasised, must be done with stringent interpretation of both the Federal Constitution and the Advocate Ordinance Sarawak 1953.

“This is to safeguard and promote Sarawak’s special position and exclusive rights according to the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) as intended by our founding fathers,” he said in a statement today.

He was commenting about the applications by two senior and well respected legal practitioners in Malaysia, who are non-Sarawakians, to the High Court in Sarawak for admission to the Sarawak Bar to practise as advocates in Sarawak, which issue was raised by Parti Bumi Kenyalang president Voon Lee Shan on Aug 26.

Tiang, who is a Sarawak advocate himself, pointed out that it was Sarawak’s constitutional right to restrict non-residents from practising before the courts in Sarawak.


“Article 161B of the Federal Constitution in particular clearly provides a safeguard provision for Sarawak Bar to confine the right to practise in Sarawak to Sarawak lawyers only.

“Our Advocates Ordinance also requires only persons with Sarawak connection are allowed to be admitted as an advocate to practise before courts in Sarawak,” he elaborated.

All these statutory provisions, Tiang pressed, not only expressly manifested one of Sarawak’s many special positions and rights in Malaysia, but more importantly the laws were there to protect Sarawak lawyers’ interests by encouraging them to grow and develop its own Sarawak Bar.

Meanwhile, Voon revealed in a press conference that the two applications will be heard in the High Court soon and sought the stand of the Sarawak government, the Advocates Association of Sarawak and the Attorney-General Chambers on this matter.

He reminded that any decision on the admission of non-Sarawakian lawyers to practise in Sarawak must reflect and affirm the special safeguards of exclusive rights given to Sarawakians.

“I hope and pray that the Sarawak government will take notice of this matter seriously. Any leeway given or which could ‘dilute’ Sarawak’s rights should not be acceptable to the Sarawak government,” he said.

Voon, however, noted that lawyers from outside Sarawak can come based on certain criteria which will require them to apply for an ad hoc license from the High Court.

In spite of that, he added that he will gather a team of senior lawyers to argue this case in order to protect these very few remaining rights Sarawak have now. —DayakDaily