Friday, January 18, 2008


Give power -back to Sabah: SLA
Power to appoint Judicial commissioners on ad hoc basis
Sabah Law Association (SLA) President Datuk John Sikayun has urged the Government to revive the power vested with certain authority on the appointment of judicial commissioners on an ad hoc basis in Sabah.
Some years ago, the law enabling the State Government to appoint judicial commissioners was repealed, John said in his address at the opening of the Legal Year here yesterday.
"It is hoped that the power by the relevant authority to appoint judicial commissioners on an ad hoc basis in the State would be revived," John said, adding such power was given up when the circumstances then made it justifiable.
He however said that with the State's rapidly expanding population and society's increasing demand for dispensation of justice, it is now the right time that the State be given back the power to appoint judicial commissioners.
According to him, giving the power back to Sabah in appointing judicial commissioners is crucial as this will help reduce the backlog of cases in the courts.
"The appointment of ad hoc judicial commissioners would be a practical move that would infuse dynamism in the judiciary. It would lead to better administration of justice," he added.
Meanwhile, John said that they have been continuously updating members and the other committees such the Women and Children's Rights Committee, Duty Counsel Committee and the Ethics Course Committee on the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) and Penal Code so that they are well acquainted with the new developments in this area of law.
"The amendments to the CPC and the Penal Code were fully enforced on September 7, 2007, wherein some of the recommendations and suggestions made by the SLA Court Practice (Criminal) and Human Rights Sub-Committee were accepted by the CPC Ad Hoc Review Committee," John said.
"As the said amendments have made extensive charges pertaining to human rights during arrest, raid and detention, we have written to all the enforcement agencies to hold dialogues and to update them on the amendments made and the problems faced by lawyers in the criminal practice," he further said.
He also said April 2007 also marked the setting up of a special sub-committee to deal with legal rights pertaining to women and children who suffer from abuse and violence such as rape, domestic violence, incest and child abuse.
"I am proud to say that the Sabah Law Association has possibly created history in this country by being the first Bar and legal body to set up this Women's and Children's Rights Sub-Committee in Malaysia," he said.
John added this committee had provided legal aid service to individual cases with complaints ranging from domestic violence, incest, bigamy, rape and hardcore poverty and created handouts on laws related to domestic violence and rape laws for the community, and conducted seminars in hospitals.
"This SLA's Woman and Children's Right Committee hopes to continue being the leading voice in all matters relating to women and children through seminars, legal aid and forum participation and look forward to greater collaboration with the Government, enforcement authorities, the media and other NGOs," he said.
John said the judiciary had continued to embark on internal initiatives to redress the delay in the disposal of and expediting the hearing of cases in the courts with the installation of a Wireless Fidelity System which enabled practitioners to get onto the internet and do their research while waiting for their cases to be heard.
He further said the judiciary had also successfully introduced three mechanisms to save time and cost for practitioners in Sarawak with the use of video conferencing for hearing non-contentious cases and witness statements between the courts in Sarawak, the use of short messaging system to inform practitioners of the staggered time in their fixture of hearing and the use of bar coding system for court files so that files could be retrieved easily.
"We look forward in earnest for these measures to become a reality in a few months' time in our courts," said John, adding it is encouraging to learn too that the Electronic Case Management (ECM) system would soon be introduced in Sabah.
John also said 2007 was a momentous year for the court officers with the launch of the Mobile Court and Night Court.
He said the Mobile Court is an avenue to provide easier and wider access to justice for all strata of society, especially the rural folks.
"While this is an initiative we can be proud of, it is sad to note that its implementation has some imperfections. Its objective and purpose would have been better served if there had been more cooperation from the other stakeholders who are expected to facilitate this initiative," said John who hoped things will improve in 2008 to make the implementation of the Mobile Court more efficient and effective.
For the Night Court, he said although it is working well, it is felt that there should be stronger response from the public, especially those from Kota Kinabalu.