CJ: Students to learn about courts, Constitution, Rukun Negara

Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum speaks to reporters after the opening of the legal year 2019 in Putrajaya January 11, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum speaks to reporters after the opening of the legal year 2019 in Putrajaya January 11, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 11 — The courts is in partnership with the Education Ministry to have the Federal Constitution and the Rukun Negara taught at schools to increase public awareness of the judicial system.

Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum said a programme is in the pipeline.

“Our targets are the schools. You will be surprised to know that the Constitution and the Rukun Negara, I understand that, are not taught in schools even until today.

“Hopefully with this programme, our young children will at least know the Constitution, the function of courts and the Rukun Negara,” he said in his speech opening the new legal year 2019.

A bit of history

The annual event today departed from its usual format of only having speeches delivered by the chief justice of Malaysia, attorney-general and the Malaysian Bar president.

For the first time, the state attorney-generals of Sabah and Sarawak, the presidents of the Malaysian Bar's east Malaysian counterparts Sabah Law Society and the Advocates' Association of Sarawak delivered their speeches at the event today.

Malanjum, who is himself a Sabahan, said they were invited to speak as a reminder that Malaysia was originally formed in 1963 by the four sovereign entities of the Federation of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore ― although the latter is no longer part of Malaysia.

Aside from Malanjum, the three other top judges ― President of Court of Appeal Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Seri David Wong Dak Wah ― also provided updates on the respective courts under their purview.

Malanjum said this was to illustrate that the Malaysian judiciary is presently managed by collective leadership of the top four judges.

Earlier in his speech at the same event, Sabah-born Wong said that it was Malanjum together with other local lawyers who in 2001 in Sandakan, Sabah revived the tradition of the opening of the legal year.

“Since that inaugural opening, opening of legal year have since become a permanent fixture of the Malaysian judiciary’s annual calendar held twice a year, one in

POJ followed by another one in one of the major towns in East Malaysia,” he said, hailing Malanjum for his foresight and appreciation of the judiciary's importance as the third pillar of government and as the defender of the Federal Constitution.

“The judiciary of High Court in Sabah and Sarawak stand proud today of the unprecedented fact that you are chairing today's proceeding,” he said.

Wong went on to explain why there were two High Courts in Malaysia ― the High Court in Malaya and High Court in Sabah and Sarawak.

“On the formation of Malaysia in 1963, Section 121(1) of the Federal Constitution created two High Courts of coordinate jurisdiction, namely, the High Court in Malaya and High Court in Borneo (now known as the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak),” he said.

He said the Federal Court has interpreted “co-ordinate jurisdiction” to mean that the High Court in Malaya and High Court in Sabah and Sarawak are two distinct entities which are completely independent of each other.

“This means that there cannot be any transfer of cases from the High Court in Malaya to High Court in Sabah and Sarawak or vice versa.

“Similarly, if a judge is transferred from the High Court in Malaya to the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak to serve, he or she can only exercise judicial power only after he or she is sworn in before the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak and vice versa,” he explained.

Wong also thanked the Chief Justice and the President of the Court of Appeal for ensuring that appeals originating from east Malaysia are heard by panels that have at least one judge from Sabah or Sarawak, adding that this practice was welcomed by the lawyers there.

The opening of the legal year was today reportedly attended by 500 persons, including Singapore's Chief Sundaresh Menon, representatives from the Indonesian judiciary, diplomats and law students from local universities.