KUCHING: The Kuching High Court has fixed Sept 7 to hear an intervener application by opposition Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) president Voon Lee Shan in the application by two prominent non-Sarawakian lawyers to be admitted as advocates in the state.
The application hearing of former chief justice of Malaysia Richard Malanjum and former chief justice of Sabah and Sarawak David Wong Dak Wah was adjourned today to a new date after Voon filed a notice of application as intervener with a certificate of urgency on Wednesday.
Chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim presided over the case.
Malanjum, who retired in April last year, and Wong, who retired in February, are Sabahans.
Voon said if the applications by Malanjum and Wong to practise in Sarawak were allowed, it would open the floodgates for peninsular lawyers to come to the state.
“It is in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) that lawyers outside Sarawak are restricted to practise law in Sarawak unless they could meet the requirements of the law under the Sarawak Advocates Ordinance 1953.
“If this right could be taken away, there is nothing more Sarawak could protect under MA63. The autonomy on immigration rights could also be diluted or removed,” he said.
Earlier, Advocates Association of Sarawak’s Kuching branch vice-chairman Liew Tang Chieh said there must be strict compliance with Section 2 (2) (a), (b) or (c) of the Advocates Ordinance 1953, which states that only lawyers with Sarawak connection can practise in the state.
The ordinance states that a person is deemed to have Sarawak connections if they are born in the state, have been a resident there for a continuous period of five years or more, and are domiciled in Sarawak.
Sarawak United Peoples’ Party youth chief Michael Tiang told FMT that Article 161B of the Federal Constitution provided a safeguard provision for the Sarawak Bar to confine the right to practise in the state to Sarawakian lawyers.
“The laws are there to protect Sarawak lawyers’ interests by encouraging them to grow and develop our own Sarawak Bar,” he said.
On Thursday, Sarawak’s Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring) Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali said although the state would not compromise on the law affecting non-Sarawakian lawyers who wished to practise in the state, their applications to be admitted as advocates would be considered objectively.
“We are firm and will not give up any of our rights,” she said.