The Kuching High Court today ruled lawyer and state rights advocate Voon Lee Shan has no locus standi to be an intervener in the applications of two Sabah-born former senior judges’ to be admitted to the Sarawak roll of advocates.
Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim’s rejection of Voon’s application paved the way for former chief justice Richard Malanjum to practise law in the state.
The court will, however, make its decision on Wong’s application on October 8 after the state attorney general (SAG) objected to his application, arguing Wong had failed to meet all three requirements of the so-called Sarawak connection.
The SAG and the Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS) however, had no objection to the Tuaran-born Malanjum’s application and the key sticking point of the ‘Sarawakian connection’.
Voon, a secessionist politician and president of Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK), had tried to block Malanjum and Wong’s – Abang Hasim’s predecessor – applications to practise in Sarawak, as they were not born in the state, a key condition under Section 2(2) of the Sarawak Advocates Ordinance 1953.
Voon Lee Shan (fourth from right) with his legal team today.
He had also made Malanjum and Wong’s applications a state rights issue, saying if their applications are allowed, it “will open the floodgates for West Malaysian lawyers to practise in Sarawak”.
Malanjum, who retired as chief justice in April last year, used his permanent resident status and having lived in the state for 25 years as a basis to his Sarawak connection.
Wong retired last February.
The law only requires a non-Sarawakian to live in the state for five continuous years to qualify for admission to the bar.
Voon in his reaction said while he respects the court’ decision, it would nonetheless further erode the state’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
He said it will pave the way for non-Sarawakian officers in the federal civil service to use the legal precedent to seek rights reserved for Sarawakians under the MA63.
When filing his intervener application last month, Voon had said if the right to restrict lawyers from outside Sarawak to practise in the state could be taken away, “then there is nothing more Sarawak could protect under the Malaysia Agreement”.
‘‘The autonomy on immigration rights could also be diluted or removed,” he added.
The issue had also divided the state’s legal fraternity.
Voon, who had said he is not alone in objecting to admission, was ordered by the court to pay RM5,000 in legal costs to Malanjum and the AAS. – TMI