No reason why legal practice exam cannot be held, says Suhakam commissioner

No reason why legal practice exam cannot be held, says Suhakam commissioner

PETALING JAYA: Aspiring lawyers and other stakeholders are hoping the Legal Profession Qualifying Board (LPQB) will work towards overcoming issues related to the Certificate of Legal Practice (CLP) examination.

“It is unfair (for law students) to be kept in the dark and due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the process feels forever and fraught with numerous uncertainties,” a CLP candidate who only wished to be known as Ann told theSun.

She added the LPQB should offer its own standard operating procedures (SOP) to enable the examination to be conducted rather than wait for the National Security Council (NSC) to decide on it.

“Waiting for the NSC takes time and the CLP has been postponed a few times as it is, causing a ripple effect for future candidates as well,” the 26-year-old said.

Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) commissioner Datuk Mah Weng Kwai (pix), who is a former LPQB member, said the CLP examination should be held as soon as possible.

“Covid-19 has indeed influenced the CLP examination schedule. I don’t see any obstacle to continuing the CLP as long as suitable SOP are observed,” he added.

He went on to say that as fully-vaccinated people are now allowed to travel between Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, and Putrajaya, he believes that candidates should not have a problem and would be able to attend the examination held in Kuala Lumpur.

Ann said the postponement of the CLP examination has clearly hampered the progress of candidates in terms of their future possibilities.

“The LPQB should attempt to make independent changes that will benefit all candidates, present and future,” she added.

She said the Bar Council and private higher education institutions should also do more to support CLP students. “This is because the CLP is the most important programme in creating and producing future lawyers in Malaysia. The fact that drastic changes have yet to be made to the CLP programme over the years shows little involvement by the Bar Council and private higher education institutions,” she said.

She added the CLP programme is in desperate need of reforms because of the incompetency seen during these tough times.

They were responding to a statement by Bangi MP Dr Ong Kian Ming and Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching proposing that action be taken to alleviate the issue of the CLP candidates for batch 2021.

Mah pointed out that at school, examinations were conducted despite the pandemic. “They did it with the appropriate SOP and I believe the same should be done for those taking the CLP,” he said.

“I believe the CLP should have its own SOP and adhere to the government’s standards more closely, which should be alright.

“Furthermore, an average of only 2,000 candidates sit for the examination each year. If the SPM can be conducted and cater to way more students, why not CLP?” he asked.

He, too, believes that the Bar Council and private higher education institutions should play a bigger role in lobbying for CLP students and the programme in general.

“The Bar Council’s voice is crucial because it represents thousands of practising lawyers, and of course, everyone who is sitting for the CLP exam is doing so in the hope of passing it and going into legal practice,” he added.

He said it becomes a human rights issue when someone studies law but doesn’t have the chance to sit for the examination.

“It puts you back to square one; your right to a livelihood is affected, and your window to qualify as a lawyer and practise for a living is prolonged, which is a sad infringement of their rights,” he added.

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