Malaysia Still Stuck With The CLP And The LLB

Politics of the Judiciary - What is there for the accused?
Google picture for illustration purpose.

Law education in Malaysia does not turn out brilliant lawyers who can contribute to novel developments

In taking the cue from former Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s various cases in court, it’s patently clear that the LLB and CLP do not turn out brilliant lawyers. These two programmes are not about courtroom skills. LLB is an academic programme which can only be used in teaching, according to the University of London.

The CLP has probably been designed to keep as many wannabe lawyers as possible out of the court and legal practice.

MUDA VP Lim Wei Jiet, a lawyer, was right when he dismissed the CLP as a mammoth memory exercise irrelevant in court and legal practice. Very few law students can memorise the bulky CLP syllabus.

The English Bar remains about being a Barrister in Law. In the old days, one only needed a Form 5 Certificate to be a Barrister at Law.

Then came the Form 6 requirement and finally LLB was needed to do the CLP or Bar. Initially, a Form 5 school leaver could join a legal practice as an apprentice under articleship and go on to practice law.

The Bar Council would hold courses for these apprentices. This was the best approach in legal education and perhaps should be brought back after the CLP is scrapped as its days, based on public perceptions, are numbered.

LLB Not For Court

These days, one doesn’t need an LLB to do the Bar in England and Wales. Non-Law degree holders can go through a six to 18 months law conversion course before doing the Bar. That has widened the talent pool in law.

England and Wales have since reformed law education. They have introduced different pathways for Advocates and Solicitors. Solicitors need not sit for the Bar but they can’t appear in Court unless they are Advocates as well.

Malaysia is still stuck with the CLP for mostly non-Malay lawyers and the LLB. They don’t turn out brilliant lawyers. Brilliant lawyers would contribute to novel developments which the court can declare as law.

It’s something that doesn’t happen in Singapore and Malaysia. The truth is stranger than fiction.

We can see the weaknesses in the Federal Court as well from the Ruling in the Allah case filed by the Herald, the Catholic weekly. The Church’s nine lawyers, assisted by the Catholic Lawyers Society, submitted 300 Pages on the history of Allah. The court cannot get into theology.

Since the Herald case, the Federal Court has avoided Allah cases like the plague and cautioned the government on the matter.

The court of law is only about law.

The court of law isn’t about ethics, moral values, theology, sin, God, justice or truth, all of these being explored by Islam, syariah, fatwa, Quran, Sanatana (science) Dharma (duties) in Hinduism and Indic religions like Buddhism and Ananda Marg. Indic religions, according to the Indian Constitution, are variations of Hinduism.

The Tribunals are not courts of law. They are courts of a good conscience, equity, and social justice for both sides. He who comes to equity must come with clean hands is a maxim in law. Lawyers can’t appear before Tribunals but may be permitted by the Chairman if points of law from the High Court are involved. The intention of Parliament on Tribunals was against allowing lawyers to appear.

Principle In Law From India

The Federal Court cited a principle in law from an Ananda Marg case in India, there being lacuna (gap) in local law, when it ruled that it was not an inherent practice to use Allah to refer to the “Christian God”.

It seems that Allah was the “Muslim God”. The Federal Court was not impressed by the 300 Pages proving that Arab Christians used Allah to refer to God.

The Federal Court felt that Allah was “there” i.e. in the Arab World among Christian as well and not “here” i.e. as an “inherent practice” among Christians in Borneo and by extension Borneon in Malaya.

The Federal Court Ruling, taking its cue from the Home Ministry procedures on public order, safety and security, was about Allah in Malay print in the Herald.

It was not about the local languages and dialects in Borneo using the term Allah for God.

There was no “power of language” in the Federal Court Ruling — and therefore no law — on Allah in Malay print in the Herald. It was a fatal flaw in law.

No Muslim in his right mind would attack a Church in Borneo, after several hundred years, for using the term Allah for God.

No court of law in the world has the right to tell anyone what he or she should call his or her God, whether there’s more than one God, whether to believe in this God or that God, or whether to believe in God at all. The Constitution enshrines freedom of conscience.

In the Ananda Marg case, the Supreme Court of India pointed out that the practice was a variation of Hinduism. It was not about any inherent practice like “dancing in the streets of Calcutta”.

It ruled that the IGP in Calcutta was right in holding that dancing in the streets affected public order, safety and security.

The IGP had disallowed Ananda Marg practitioners from dancing in the streets of Calcutta. They could dance anywhere but not in the streets of Calcutta.

The Home Minister in Malaysia barred the Herald from using the term Allah in its Malay pages to refer to the “Christian God” and cited “public order, safety and security concerns” for the ban. He claimed that some “staged” incidents at a Sikh temple in Miri and another four incidents outside Churches elsewhere in the country as proof of security concerns.

Sikhs use the term Allah for God in their Holy Book, Adi Granth or Granth Sahib. Ironically, in a contradiction in terms, the Home Minister did not go after the Sikh Holy Bible on the term Allah but mentioned the Miri temple in court as a security concern.

Allah For Hundreds Of Years

Borneon have been chanting Allah — the one and only — and Allahtala and Tuhan Allah for God for several hundred years in local languages including Bahasa Sabah and Sarawak Malay. Sarawak Malay is a variation of Iban, according to Universiti Malaya linguist Asmah Omar.

Bahasa Sabah is a local version of the Malay language spoken in the Johor-Rhio-Lingga region, the latter commonly recognised as the Bahasa Kebangsaan (national language) in Article 152.

The language in Article 152 was no longer in official use and has been replaced by Bahasa Malaysia which isn’t the Bahasa Kebangsaan (national language). Bahasa Malaysia has 40K words while Bahasa Melayu has only 20K words.

The redundant Order 92, Rule 1, of the Rules of the High Court states that cause papers in Malaya must be in the “out of official use” national language as stated in Article 152. They may be accompanied by an English translation.

In Indonesia, to cite a related example in law, Bahasa Melayu has never been in official use. Bahasa Indonesia isn’t considered Bahasa Melayu and has more words than Bahasa Malaysia.

The following link shows further weaknesses of the court of law in Malaysia. See here

In law, the civil court can, in fact, direct the National Registration Dept (NRD) to drop religion for example from the Applicant’s MyKad. It appears confused over its role. The directive can only be based on the Application by the MyKad holder. No civil court in Malaysia has given this advice to a MyKad holder.

However, in law, the civil court can’t direct the NRD to substitute Islam with another religion in the MyKad. The court cannot get into theology

Malaysia doesn’t have an alternative legal system or parallel legal system.

Syariah, according to a Declaration by the Supreme Court of India, is not law but based on a person’s willingness to accept it.

The court cautioned that it would be unconstitutional to impose syariah on anyone.

The Indian Declaration, being from the Commonwealth, is Advisory in Malaysia since there’s lacuna (gap) in local law. It’s not clear whether Maria Chin, who converted upon marriage, accepts syariah. See here

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Joe Fernandez
Longtime Borneo watcher Joe Fernandez has been writing for many years on both sides of the Southeast Asia Sea. He should not be mistaken for a namesake formerly with the Daily Express in Kota Kinabalu. JF keeps a Blog under FernzTheGreat on the nature of human relationships.