Work experience doesn’t prove ‘Sarawak connection’, PBK’s Voon tells DAP’s Chong

Voon Lee Shan

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KUCHING, April 15: Former Chief Justice of Malaysia Tan Sri Richard Malanjum’s favourable judicial pronouncements on the Native Customary Rights (NCR) issues do not entitle him to a ‘Sarawak connection’ to be admitted to the Sarawak Bar.

Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) president Voon Lee Shan criticised Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen for welcoming the High Court’s decision to admit Malanjum to the Sarawak Bar, saying he lacked understanding of Section 2(2) of the Advocates Ordinance Sarawak particularly on the interpretation of ‘Sarawak Connection’.

“I regret to say that YB Chong erred in reading or could not understand Section 2(2) of the Advocates Ordinance Sarawak i.e. Sarawak connection.

“Sarawak connection as defined in Section 2(2) of the Ordinance does not include the judgments or work experience of Richard Malanjum,” he said in a statement today.

Admission to the Sarawak Bar, Voon asserted, is primarily premised on the residential requirements under Section 2(2) of the Ordinance, meaning that Malanjum must reside in Sarawak for a minimum of five years or more or he is domiciled in Sarawak as he is not Sarawak born.

“Whatever works he had done for the judiciary are good, he did it as part of his job as the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak and was paid by the government.

“The Advocates Ordinance Sarawak did not include the official duties of the judiciary to be a factor to be considered without the residential qualification for the purpose of admission to the Sarawak Bar.

“The Court must act within the Advocates Ordinance Sarawak in judicially construing those provisions and not otherwise,” he added.

Hence, Voon emphasised that he has instructed his legal team to lodge a Notice of Appeal to challenge the decision in the Court of Appeal even though he respects the decision of Judicial Commissioner Alexander Siew in dismissing the originating summons on April 12 with a cost of RM10,000 to be paid by him.

He also pointed out that politicising the issue of admission of advocates to the Sarawak Bar without the residential qualification may be construed as a failure to protect Sarawak rights and restriction of non-Sarawakians for the admission to the Sarawak Bar.

“Article 161B of the Federal Constitution had ensured that the changing of the residential requirement for admission to the Sarawak Bar must receive the consent of the Sarawak government before Parliament can legislate to change the residential requirement for admission to Sarawak Bar.

“We hope YB Chong who is also an MP is fully aware of Article 161B to protect the Sarawak rights if Parliament ever attempts to legislate and change the residential requirement for admission into Sarawak Bar,” he said.

Voon stressed that the issue of non-Sarawakians who did not fulfill the residential requirement as stipulated in the Advocates Ordinance shall be ventilated all the way to the Federal Court if necessary as it concerns fundamental issues of rights of Sarawakians and non-Sarawakians’ admission to the Sarawak Bar.

“Parti Bumi Kenyalang shall at all times protect Sarawak rights and we urge Sarawakians to stand firmly behind us,” he added. — DayakDaily