Friday, January 18, 2008


Sabah wants certain Federal statutes


The State Attorney-General’s Chambers is presently working with the Federal Attorney-General’s Chambers to extend to Sabah certain federal statutes, such as the Second-Hand Dealers Act 1946 and the Moneylenders Act 1951 (Revised 1989). Disclosing this yesterday at the opening of Legal Year 2008 at the High Court here, State Attorney- General Roderic Fernandez said Sabah requires such statutes to curb rampant scrap metal thefts and better control the activities of moneylenders in the State. Roderic said the Chambers is also working on amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976. According to him, over the past one year, the Chambers had its share of an array of legal challenges notably in the field of civil law. Owing to the peculiar legal landscape in Sabah which is as an aspect of legal pluralism, he said, the Chambers faces an increasingly arduous task in dealing with cases arising from administrative laws and Native laws. It is concerning native customary laws that litigation appears to be incrementally burgeoning due to a growing public awareness of this aspect of civil law, especially among the natives, he said. “Of particular interest to the Chambers is the increasing number of Native court cases going to the Native Court of Appeal, which is the highest court in the native judicial hierarchy,” he said. “Therefore, this is the right time for the Chambers to initiate steps to review the provisions of the Native Courts Enactment 1992 and all the Rules made under it in 1995.” Roderic pointed out that the Enactment and the Rules have to be revised so that whatever existing lacunae may be remedied.
“Native legal principles as propounded by the Native Courts, District Native Courts and the Native Court of Appeal must be taken into consideration and if appropriate, incorporated into the Enactment and Rules when the revision commences,” he said. “Such revision is very important because customary law provides a given social group with a reason for convergence rather than a stimulus for divergence. And in the context of the legal pluralism in Sabah, this is most relevant.” On the Mobile Court, Roderic said the recently introduced service has brought Court delivery system into the interior regions of Sabah and benefited the entire rural folks.
Meanwhile, Senior Federal Counsel of Sabah, Suhaimi bin Ibrahim said the Attorney General’s Chambers might appoint Assistant Public Prosecutors to conduct criminal prosecution in lower courts. “We conducted a survey to see how the appointments could be posted in lower courts in Malaysia,” he said. “The appointments are in line with the plan of the Honourable Attorney General of Malaysia to improve the conduct of prosecution in lower courts.” On the Night Court, Suhaimi said it has received positive response from the public,. and he hoped it will, be continued in the years ahead ‘This year, we will also see the full implementation of the new amendments to the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code which took effect from Sept 7 last year,” he said. Among the important features of the Code is the shortened period of remand from 14 days to 7 days if the punishment for the offence committed is not more than 14 years imprisonment. A directive by the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak to dispose of pre-2007 cases by February this year has seen a decrease in the number of detentions without trial and will improve the administration of the criminal justice system.