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TitleSPEECH BY Y.A.A. TAN SRI DATUK SERI PANGLIMA RICHARD MALANJUM, CHIEF JUDGE OF SABAH & SARAWAK AT THE OPENING OF THE LEGAL YEAR 2008 IN MIRI, SARAWAK ON THE 25TH JANUARY 2008
Date2008-01-25
CategoryOpening of the Legal Year
Speech ByY.A.A. TAN SRI DATUK SERI PANGLIMA RICHARD MALANJUM
SpeechSpeech on the opening of the Sarawak Legal Year 2008

Selamat Pagi dan Salam Sejahtera kepada :
Y.A. Datuk Linton Albert, Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi, Kuching
Y.A. Dato’ Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman, Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi, Kuching
Y.A. Tuan Sangau Gunting, Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi, Bintulu
Y.A. Tuan David Wong Dak Wah, Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi, Kuching
Y.A. Dato’ Zulkifli bin Bakar, Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi, Miri
Y.A. Dr. Haji Hamid Sultan bin Abu Backer, Pesuruhjaya Kehakiman, Sibu
Y.Bhg Tuan Haji Abdul Razak Tready, Peguam Besar Negeri
Y.Bhg Puan Fadzillah Begum binti Abdul Ghani, Peguam Kanan Pesekutuan
Tuan Gabriel Gumin Humen, Pendaftar Mahkamah Tinggi Sabah dan Sarawak
Encik Sim Hui Chuang, Presiden Persatuan Peguam-Peguam Sarawak
Encik Keith Chin, Pengerusi Persatuan Peguam-Peguam Sarawak (Cawangan Miri)
Pegawai-Pegawai Kehakiman dan Perundangan Sarawak
Para Peguam dan
Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good morning and a very happy New Year to you all present today. It is my pleasure to welcome all of you to this auspicious occasion. Today is the historic day for the city of Miri. This is the first time the opening of the legal year is held outside Kuching. Next year it will be held in another town. The basic purpose of circulating the opening is to create awareness amongst the general public in the various towns of our judicial system, its functions and readiness to dispense justice according to the laws of the country and the Rule of Law.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I first thank the President of the Sarawak Advocates Association, the learned Senior Federal Counsel and the learned State Attorney General for their kind and encouraging addresses this morning. I join them in thanking the members of the Bench and its staff and members of the Bar in Sarawak for the excellent work done for the past 12 months in the disposal of cases especially the backlog. I call upon them to continue to do so for the cause of justice and the Rule of Law.

Ladies and Gentlemen, you may still recall during the opening of the legal year last year that the Sarawak courts pledged to clear all pre2007 criminal cases and all pre2005 civil cases before the next opening. The Judges and judicial officers honoured that pledge to the best of their abilities. They may have yet to achieve 100% clearance of those cases. Thus, I have granted indulgence to the Subordinate Courts until end of February 2008 and for the High Courts until the end of April 2008. I plead understanding from the Bar and the general public that the Courts in their zest to clear this backlog of cases do not sacrifice justice for the sake of statistics. It is also understood that some cases are just too complex requiring longer times to resolve.

Notwithstanding, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to say that overall the Sarawak Courts have done a marvelous job for the last 12 months. This is evident from the number of cases disposed of judging from the statistics given:

CASES REGISTERED & DISPOSED FROM JANUARY 2007 TO DECEMBER 2007
CIVIL
Court



A Balance as at 1.1.2007

B Registered from 1.1.2007 to 31.12.2007 C Disposed from 1.1.2007 to 31.12.2007 D Balance as at 1.1.2008


E Remarks
HIGH COURT
Sub Total 2,481 2,418 2,814 2,090
SESSIONS COURT
Sub Total 3,581 5,555 6,672 2,464
MAGISTRATES’ COURT
Sub Total 5,677 12,119 12,726 5,070

CASES REGISTERED & DISPOSED FROM JANUARY 2007 TO DECEMBER 2007
CRIMINAL
Court



A Balance as at 1.1.2007

B Registered from 1.1.2007 to 31.12.2007 C Disposed from 1.1.2007 to 31.12.2007 D Balance as at 1.1.2008


E Remarks
HIGH COURT
Sub Total 162 362 283 241
SESSIONS COURT
Sub Total 620 2,653 2,856 417
MAGISTRATES’ COURT
Sub Total 5,918 29,033 24,041 10,910

In term of disposal by percentages these are the figures:

For Sarawak Courts
Civil Cases from January 2007 – December 2007
High Courts
No. of cases registered : 2418
No. of cases disposed : 2814
Percentage of Disposal : 116.4%

Sessions Court
No. of cases Registered : 5555
No. of cases Disposed : 6672
Percentage of Disposal : 120%

Magistrate Courts
No. of cases registered : 12, 119
No. of Cases Disposed: 12,726
Percentage of disposal: 105%

For Sarawak Courts
Criminal Cases from January 2007 – December 2007
High Courts
No. of cases registered : 362
No. of cases disposed : 283
Percentage of Disposal : 78.2%
Sessions Court
No. of cases Registered : 2653
No. of cases Disposed : 2856
Percentage of Disposal : 107.7%
Magistrate Courts
No. of cases registered: 29,033
No. of cases disposed: 24,041
Percentage of disposal: 82.8%
The percentages of disposal show that the Sarawak Courts are indeed clearing the backlog for the disposal exceeds the registered number of cases for the year.
It is also interesting to note the number of trials involving the disposal of cases with the hearing of oral evidence from witnesses handled by the Sarawak Courts for the last one year. The figures show:

CASES DISPOSED BY WAY OF FULL TRIAL
FROM JANUARY 2007 TO DECEMBER 2007 (SARAWAK)
COURT CIVIL CRIMINAL
HIGH COURT
Sub Total

103
10
SESSIONS COURT
Sub Total

90
82
MAGISTRATES’ COURT
Sub Total

24
226
TOTAL 217 318

One may see that the total figures are small. But please bear in mind that that there are only 52 weeks in a year. With less the weekends and holidays and that some cases do not take a day or two to complete I would say the achievement of the Sarawak Courts in term of disposal of cases by trial is quite a feat. Congratulation and please continue to do the excellent work.

I should add here the Judges and Judicial officers were not confined to clearing these cases. They also heard current cases which were urgent and interlocutory including remand cases in the Subordinate Courts.

Of course I must thank members of the Bar and the Prosecution for their total commitment to our cause. Without it the figures might have been different. It is now just a matter of months when the balance of cases will be cleared. Hopefully by the end of February 2008 the Subordinate Courts will dispose of all their outstanding cases while the High Courts will attempt to do so by the end of April 2008.

I am very confident that by June 2008 the waiting period for hearings for criminal cases in the Subordinate Courts will be reduced to six months while civil cases will have a waiting period of twelve months. By year end the period will be further reduced to three and nine months respectively. For the High Courts by September 2008 I hope to see the waiting period for criminal cases to be only six months while civil cases will have twenty four months. Thereafter we will reduce them to three months and twelve months respectively comes the opening of next legal year. I am aware that it is an ambitious target. But with better case management technique and the wider use of mediation process it is not impossible to achieve it. Let us together do it. As they say: ‘In order to succeed we must first believe we can’.

For the last few months that the High Court in Sarawak began to use Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in particular by way of mediation in the disposal of cases. The disposal rates so far are as follows:

CASES DISPOSED OF BY WAY OF MEDIATION IN MIRI FROM 1.1.2007 TO 31.12.2007 = 10 cases

With training in the next few months I hope that the use of ADR will be implemented in the Subordinate Courts.

I am also pleased to disclose that the Mobile Court has successful outings to the rural and remote areas of Sarawak. For the past 8 months 1746 cases were dealt with. Most of these cases involved certification of late birth certificates and attestation of documents. Simple legal advices were also given to those in need. I invite members of the Bar to assist the Court in this project. The rural population and the marginalized need help. It is an expensive affair for them to come to courts which are mostly in town areas.

Perhaps to should give heed to the saying:
‘...The happiest people on this planet are not those who live on their own
terms but are those who change their terms for the ones whom they love...’

The Night Court since its inception in last few months to end of December 2007 managed to dispose of 2,335 cases. More will be heard by the Night Court when cases involving personally and not as witnesses Government employees and those in the statutory bodies are scheduled in the evening. This is to avoid this category of employees having to spend their office time, unless they are on leave, attending court hearings.

The Traffic Court in Kuching also disposed of 7,190 cases for the last twelve months leaving a balance of 6,435 cases as at 1.1.2008.

I think my speech will not complete if I do not mention the fact that Sarawak Courts especially in the main towns are almost completely computerized. I thank the State Government for all the assistance rendered especially through the Sarawak Information Networks or SAINS in particular the Managing Director Mr. Teo and his wonderful team of young and enthusiastic staff. The Kuching and Miri Courts have received many prominent visitors to see for themselves what the Sarawak Courts have done in term of the use of modern technology. Indeed the use of Video Conferencing has saved a lot of money not only to the litigants and their lawyers but also to the Courts. To the Sarawak Courts I say ‘Syabas’.

For the last 12 months there were quite a number of new lawyers admitted to the Sarawak Bar. I think it is time for the Sarawak Advocates Association to make further attempt to enhance its jurisdictional and supervisory standing over private practitioners. Those who are no longer qualified to practice under the Advocates Ordinance should be quickly dealt with so that members of the public are not misled. And we should remind ourselves of the Japanese proverb:
"The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour."

Another says:
‘To deal with yourself, use your head, to deal with others use your heart’.

And may I end by quoting Lao Tzu:
"I have just three things to teach: simplicity, humility, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures."


"The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be."

Finally, I wish to thank the Organizers of this year opening of legal year for having invited me to lead the procession. I congratulate them of the excellent work.

And to all our guests at this ceremony we wish them Happy New Year 2008 and may all our dreams for the year be fulfilled for the cause of Justice and the triumph of the Rule of Law. May I invite all of you for tea after this ceremony.

Thank you.