SPEECH OF CHIEF MINISTER OF SABAH, YANG AMAT BERHORMAT TAN SRI DATUK SERI PANGLIMA MUSA HAJI AMAN AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE NEW SABAH LAW SOCIETY SECRETARIAT, SUITE 6-6-11, 6TH FLOOR MENARA MAA, LORONG API-API 1, KOTA KINABALU
ON 2ND DECEMBER 2017
Today we are witnessing a milestone for the Sabah Law Society which was just established on 1st July 2017. I am pleased to see the Sabah Law Society established as the statutory body to regulate all lawyers in Sabah, and for the first time in Malaysia, there are two statutory bodies for the same profession, the other statutory body for lawyers being the Malaysian Bar Council, which only regulates the lawyers in West Malaysia.
I understand that it was not an easy road for the Sabah Law Society to get established. The legal entity you see today was due to the continuous efforts of Sabah Law Association over many years in engaging with the Federal Attorney General Chambers and overcoming many obstacles to ensure the Advocates Ordinance (Sabah) Amendment Act 2017 was approved by the Federal Cabinet and finally passed by the Dewan Rakyat and the Dewan Negara last year. The Advocates Ordinance (Sabah) Amendment Act 2016 was gazetted on 30th March 2017 and came into force in July.
It is material to record that the creation of a statutory body in Sabah is also in accordance with constitutional safeguards as stated in the Inter-Governmental Report. This historic moment provides recognition for the autonomy of the legal profession in Sabah. The SLA deserves credit and recognition for their perseverance in engaging with all the necessary stakeholders to bring these amendments to fruition.
In this respect, I commend the efforts of the current Executive Committee of the Sabah Law Association and past committees and members of the Sabah Bar who had contributed to making the Sabah Law Society a reality. The fact that the first Executive Committee of the Sabah Law Society now is the current Executive Committee of the Sabah Law Association is a timely and appropriate recognition of this team effort.
Lawyers play an important role in moving our State forward. The law regulates most aspects of our lives and we need our Sabah lawyers to be alert and continue to uphold the notions of fairness and justice in our Courts and community. I note that previously the Sabah Law Association had been active in hosting public seminars and talks, taking up pro bono cases and legal awareness activities and helping the Government with proposed new laws and regulations. The SLA members have also been assisting the State Government on the Committee to Study the Rights of Sabah in the Malaysia Agreement 1963. In addition, I also note that the SLA had been vocal on legal issues of interest that affect the community.
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the SLA for their commitment and input to the Steering Committee for the Review of Subsidiary Title and Management Corporation headed by the Minister of Special Tasks, YB Datuk Teo Chee Kang which seeks to revamp the land development process. As you would have read recently, proposed developments involving the conversion of land from say Native Title to Country Lease will require approval for the conversion before the Development Plan can be approved. The intention is for the reduction in time for the issuance of strata titles to within one year from the date of the Certificate of Fitness for Occupation (OC). The Steering Committee will now be looking into fresh legislation for high rise buildings and in particular the management corporation formed to maintain such buildings.
I am also aware of the call by the SLA at the Opening of the Legal Year 2017 in Sandakan for further law reform towards the amendment of the Sabah Law Ordinance, specifically with reference to the indefeasibility of title upon transfer and the protection of the bona fide purchaser. There must be certainty in land transactions as the general public and financial institutions require confirmation of their ownership and interest. I look forward to the SLS providing the State Government with their proposals for our consideration.
I would also like to acknowledge the contribution of SLA which resulted in the launching of the “Land Dealings Electronic Submission System Version 2.1” together with the Lands and Surveys Department. The computerisation of land registration or land information systems is an inevitable consequence of the global impact of computers into everyday transactions. As a result of this collaboration between the Association and the Lands and Surveys Department, the conveyancing practice in Sabah has been refined with the removal for the requirement of escrow documents.
I look forward to seeing the Sabah Law Society continue these and other efforts. I note from the slide show shown earlier that the Sabah Law Association has been involved in many activities related to educating the public and its members as well as assisting the judiciary, to the extent that you had no time to organize an annual dinner. With all the constructive and beneficial work that you have put into creating the Sabah Law Society, it is only timely and deserving that you organize an annual dinner for the Sabah Law Society. I would be honored to attend.
On this note, I wish you well in this new role and I am now honoured to officially launch the Sabah Law Society Secretariat. Thank you.