Malaysian Bar assures Sarawak, Sabah legal bodies of their autonomy

Malaysian Bar President Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur March 16, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Malaysian Bar President Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur March 16, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 — The Malaysian Bar today assured its Sabah and Sarawak counterparts that it recognised their rights, amid claims it was pushing for a national law to regulate the legal profession.

The Malaysian Bar — which is the peninsular legal body — said that the proposed amendment it drafted to the Legal Profession Act (LPA) 1976 merely reproduced, without changes, provisions in the current law that allowed it to be extended to Sabah and Sarawak.

These provisions in the current LPA, however, have never been exercised. The legal professions in Sabah and Sarawak are governed by their own laws, namely the Advocates Ordinance of Sabah 1953 and the Advocates Ordinance of Sarawak 1953 respectively.

“It is emphasised that this reproduction is in no way intended to encroach on any rights that have been conferred on Sabah and Sarawak in governing their legal professions,” Malaysian Bar president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor said in a statement.

“The Malaysian Bar assures SLS (Sabah Law Society) and AAS (Advocates Association of Sarawak) that we have always recognised — and will continue to recognise — their autonomy and independence. 

“We would not take any action, nor would we condone any action that would result in a curtailment or erosion of such independence, having ourselves fiercely defended the independence of our Bar in recent years,” he added.

Abdul Fareed pointed out that the three Bars had together proclaimed in tripartite meetings in Miri, Sarawak, in 2009 and in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, in 2013 that they upheld the Federal Constitution, the Malaysia Act 1963, the Inter-Governmental Committee Report 1962, and the 20-point Agreement and 18-point Memorandum respectively.

“The SLS, AAS and Malaysian Bar enjoy a good and robust working relationship, and have forged a close friendship,” said Abdul Fareed.

Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing said yesterday that the Legal Profession Bill must be ratified by the Sarawak state legislative assembly if it is to extend jurisdiction to the state.

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