PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has ordered the Sarawak lawyers’ body and state attorney-general to be included in a lawyer’s appeal to question the admission of two former top judges to practise law in the state.
The two are former chief justice Richard Malanjum and former chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak David Wong Dak Wah.
Judge Kamaludin Md Said said his panel of three wanted to hear submissions from the Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS) and state attorney-general Talat Mahmood Abdul Rashid, after noticing that both stakeholders were missing from the appeal application.
The other judges on the panel are Supang Lian and Hadhariah Syed Ismail.
Sarawakian lawyer Voon Lee Shan had sought to intervene in the petitions by Malanjum and Wong to be admitted to the Sarawak bar.
He claimed that under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), non-Sarawakian lawyers were restricted from practising law in Sarawak unless they could meet the requirements under the Sarawak Advocates Ordinance 1953.
His application to intervene was turned down by the Kuching High Court on Sept 15, 2020 and the court subsequently granted Malanjum’s petition. Wong was admitted to the Sarawak bar on Feb 2 this year.
Malanjum was born in Tuaran, Sabah, and served as chief justice from July 2018 to April 2019. Wong was born in Sandakan, Sabah, and became chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak from July 2018 to Feb 2020.
Earlier today, Tan Kee Heng, appearing for Malanjum and Wong, told the court that Voon’s lawyers had failed to serve their appeal on AAS and Talat Mahmood.
“Both of them (AAS and Talat Mahmood) argued during Voon’s intervenor hearing before the current chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak (Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim).
“AAS and the state AG have the right to be heard in Voon’s appeal today,” he said, adding that Voon cannot exclude both stakeholders.
Lim Heng Choo, representing Voon, said they took the position that the High Court order did not make any decision on AAS and Talat Mahmood when hearing the petitions by Malanjum and Wong.
“If they think their interest is affected, they can come in to this appeal,” he said.
Kamaludin then pointed out the High Court judgment had taken the views of AAS and the state AG on the petitions by Malanjum and Wong.
“We think it is important to hear them at this appeal. You are talking about the regulations on admission to practise and these are matters under the state bar and state AG,” he said.
He told Voon to serve AAS and the state AG the relevant court documents within seven days from today.
The court fixed Sept 2 for case management.