KUCHING, April 28 — The Malaysian Bar’s proposed amendment to the Legal Profession Act 1976 will not cover Sarawak that has its own legal practice regulation, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing said today.
He said the Legal Profession Bill must be ratified by the Sarawak state legislative assembly if it is to extend jurisdiction to the state that has its own Advocate Ordinance Sarawak 1953, with different criteria to practise as a lawyer.
Masing, who is also Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president, said he is sure that the state legislative assembly will not agree to Bill’s extension to Sarawak.
He said any law passed by Parliament that affects Sarawak’s rights will have to be endorsed by the state legislative assembly before it can be extended.
“If we endorse the draft Bill, we will open the floodgates for the more aggressive lawyers from Peninsula to practise in Sarawak,” he told reporters after attending the pre-council meeting of the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state assemblymen here.
“That is why it is very important that we must draw our line. If we make a wrong step and if we agree to the Bill, then it will become a law that affects our rights,” he said.
He was asked to respond to a draft Bill proposed by the Malaysian Bar, which among others, seeks to amend the Legal Profession Act 1976 and the Advocates Ordinances of both Sarawak and Sabah.
Masing said there is no reason for Sarawak to open its doors to outside lawyers since it has many capable and experienced practising lawyers of its own.
“Our local lawyers are trained in the same institutions as those from outside so there is no difference in qualifications between them, except that our local lawyers are not so aggressive,” he said.
Masing said Sarawak has its own Advocates Ordinance that regulates legal practice.
According to Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen, the Bar Council had early this year proposed a new Legal Profession Act to govern the whole country.
However, it had not been endorsed by the PH federal government.