SIBU: Dudong SUPP wants the Legal Profession Qualifying Board of Malaysia (LPQB) to do away with the new condition that requires law students who are UEC holders to sit for the Certificate of Legal Practice (CLP) before they can be admitted for legal practice.
Dudong branch chairman Wong Ching Yong said on Friday (Jan 25) the new requirement marked the second time that the board was discriminating against UEC holders.
In November 2017, the board, which is currently led by its chairman Tommy Thomas, who is also the Attorney General, announced that it did not recognise the UEC certificate and that UEC students could not sit for the CLP.
"Due to enormous pressure from public opinion then, the board had to withdraw this rule and UEC students were able to continue to sit for the CLP," he recalled.
However, on June 5, 2018, Wong said the board "quietly" introduced another new rule which took effect in January this year.
The new rule stipulates that UEC students, even if they have already obtained a recognised law degree, would still need to sit for two English A-Level subjects or two STPM subjects, if they wish to sit for the CLP.
Then on Oct 26, 2018, the board issued another notification, whereby it listed other qualifications for applicants to sit for the CLP.
They included Foundation from public university, matriculation certificate from the Education Ministry, diploma from public university and institutions of higher learning, first degree from public university and foreign university and International Baccalaureate Diploma.
"Due to the sudden introduction of the new but ludicrous rule by the board, many parents today have complained to SUPP Dudong Branch because this new rule has put UEC students in a dilemma.
"UEC students who are still studying law at law schools locally or overseas will not be able to sit for the CLP after graduation," he added.
Wong said if they wanted to become practising lawyers in Malaysia, they could choose to study in England and sit for the examination of the English Bar after graduation.
However, not many of them could afford it as the tuition and accommodation fees for the course cost about RM200,000.
In comparison, it would cost them between just RM4,000 and RM5,000 for the course and exam fee.
"Parents of the UEC students are of the view that this rule is not only unreasonable and unfair but that the board is seen to be highly discriminatory against the UEC students," he said.
Wong said in the past, UEC students were allowed to sit for the CLP without needing to possess two A-level or STPM subjects.
He contended that the entrance system of any profession such as doctors, dentists, accountancy engineering or law in the world was based only on the results of the undergraduate degrees of the applicants.
"No professional association will pay attention to the applicants' secondary school results," he said.
Wong urged the Sarawak Advocates Association (SAA), Sabah Law Society and the Malaysia Bar to convene meetings to study the issue urgently.
He also appealed to Education Minister, Maszlee Malik, his deputy Teo Nie Ching, Sibu MP Oscar Ling and Lanang MP Alice Lau to assist UEC students who aspire to become lawyers.
Meanwhile, secretary of SAA, Victor Lau, said he wanted the board to explain the rational behind the new requirements.