Kota Marudu Member of Parliament

Govt to study proposals for JPs to play bigger role – CM

KOTA KINABALU: The state government will look into The Council of Justices of the Peace Sabah’s (Majaps) view to gazette legally qualified Justices of the Peace (JPs) to be appointed as Second Class Magistrates to assist the courts to clear backlog of cases.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman said one of Majaps’ concerns was to allow suitable JPs in Sabah to become Second Class Magistrates to preside over cases of traffic and minor offences, to assist in remote areas or villages in Sabah where magistrates were limited or where there were none.

When Circuit Courts are not in session, the police depend on District Officers and Assistant District Officers to sit as Second Class Magistrates to issue remand orders, he said.

However, Musa said there were times when they were busy that the police had no choice but to take the arrested persons to another district, which was wrong under the law because Magistrates’ Courts have district limited territorial jurisdiction.

This means that a person arrested in Sipitang should not be brought to Beaufort to appear before the District Officer there as it is in another district, he said.

Therefore, Musa said he would very much like to see the services of legally qualified JPs be maximized for the benefit of remote interiors and to assist in presiding minor traffic and municipal offences as well as to hear remand cases as Second Class Magistrates where there were no resident magistrates and where the District and Assistant Officers were unable to attend speedily to them.

“I understand JPs are willing to render their services voluntarily.

“Majaps is of the view that the Sabah State Government can gazette, through the powers of the State Governor, legally qualified JPs to be appointed as Second Class Magistrates in order to assist the courts to clear backlog of court cases.

“I shall look diligently into this,” Musa stated  in his speech, which was delivered by Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Edward Yong Oui Fah, who represented him at the ‘Justice and Rights – The Way Forward’ seminar here yesterday.

The seminar was jointly organized by Majaps and the Sabah Law Association (SLA).

To reduce burden on the courts, Musa said mediation to settle disputes was encouraged in the courts in Sabah and Sarawak as an alternative in resolving disputes filed.

He said JPs could be trained as mediators to assist in resolving cases over disputes over land and moveable properties as well as accident claims filed with the courts in Sabah.

He said JPs could also be appointed as Native Court clerks to assist in the management of the daily running of the Native Courts and to guide the Native Chiefs on laws.

“I will certainly ask the State Attorney General to look into proposals from Majaps for JPs to play a more effective role.”

Furthermore, Musa said he would issue a circular to the various federal ministries and agencies for them to be in the know and to accept the powers of JPs in Sabah as provided under the laws to avoid inconvenience to the public dealing with these departments, due to the different powers of JPs in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.

He said Majaps had raised its concern on the recognition of the attestation and certification by JPs in Sabah on official government documents of federal ministries, departments and agencies, such as the Road Transport Department and Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB).

“In Peninsular Malaysia, powers of JPs are confined to certification of documents, whereas in Sabah, JPs can certify documents as well as attest or witness the signatory of the person signing before the JP,” he said.

Additionally, Musa said the state government would look into the request by Majaps to ensure some strict criteria were met in relation to the appointment of JPs in Sabah, such as a minimum standard of literacy and educational background, no criminal record and have contributed to society.

He said this was to uphold the dignity of the office of JPs by discharging their duties effectively and efficiently in accordance with the law in force.

“Majaps has proposed its views in selecting candidates and for all JPs to mandatorily become members of the council.

“The state government will look into this request.”

On another matter, Musa said the Sabah State Government had embarked on the path of raising Sabah’s rights within the framework of the law by the formation of the Committee for Revision of State Rights under the Malaysian Agreement 1963 chaired by the Minister for Special Tasks Datuk Teo Chee Kang.

He said  Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was attentive to the issues raised during the meeting with the Sabah State Cabinet during his recent visit to Sabah on the restoration of state rights and devolution of powers.

“This is proven by the Prime Minister’s announcement of the exemption of Sabah and Sarawak from the Sabah Cabotage Policy starting June 1, 2017.

“This exemption actually puts both states back to pre-Malaysia status quo in line with the Inter-Governmental Report (IGC) as far as shipping and navigation are concerned,” he said.

In a similar vein, Musa noted that the SLA has been instrumental in enhancing autonomy for lawyers in Sabah by tirelessly campaigning for amendments to the Advocates Ordinance with the Federal Attorney General chambers to create, among others, a statutory body for lawyers in Sabah.

As a result of years of engagement with the Federal Attorney General Chambers, he said the Advocates Ordinance (Sabah) Amendment Act 2016 was gazetted on March 30, 2017 and was expected to come into force in July this year.

He said a significant amendment to the ordinance included the creation of a new statutory body named the Sabah Law Society (SLS) with mandatory membership for all lawyers in Sabah and this would enable a better representation and regulation of the legal fraternity.

“It is material to record that the creation of a statutory body is in accordance with the constitutional safeguard as stated in the IGC.”

Musa also acknowledged SLA for its commitment to the Steering Committee for the Review of Subsidiary Title and Management Corporation which sought to revamp the land development process.

He said the proposed development involving the conversion of land from say Native Title to Country Lease would now 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 state of the Certificate of Fitness for Occupation (OC).”

Musa said the steering committee would now be looking into fresh legislation for high rise buildings and in particular the management corporation formed to maintain such buildings.

Another notable contribution is the ‘Land Dealings Electronic Submission System Version 2.1’, known as LADESS 2.1 together with the Lands and Surveys Department, which will streamline and expedite the system of land registration in Sabah, he added.

Musa also announced RM50,000 each to Majaps and SLA to assist their administration and to further their work.

Also present were Chief Justice of Sabah and Sarawak, Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili, Majaps president Datuk Seri Panglima Clarence B Malakun JP, Majaps deputy president Datuk Lawrence SH Thien JP and SLA president Brenndon Keith Soh.

Source: theborneopost