Laman Webantu   KM2: 6394 File Size: 5.6 Kb *

| KM2 Index |

MGG: The CLP Mess: Why Is The Government Silent?
By M.G.G. Pillai

21/11/2001 3:27 am Wed



20 November 2001

The CLP mess: Why is the government silent?

By: M.G.G. Pillai

Why is the government silent about the CLP scandal? It is clear by the day the blame for it is not with the clerks and law students, who are the focus of the police investigation, but those who allowed this. The de facto law minister, Dato' Rais Yatim, pitches in only when he is cornered to demand those in charge be investigated as well. Once, you could get question papers for a few hundred ringgit. It is about RM5,000 now. The Law Profession Qualifying Board was aware of it for years. But it needed proof before it would investigate. Why? Is it not in its interest for the examination it conducts be beyond reproach?

When the scandal hit the streets, did it investigate thoroughly, as it must, to nullify the CLP results in July and October? Unlikely. It could not in the fortnight between the Malay Mail Report of 29 October and its decision. It takes longer when one wants to check one's results with the Board. It was caught flat-footed. It found not the occasional corruption that could be stopped, but a wide-spread malignant cancer it could not stop. Then it battened its hatches and refused even to answer telephones. No one talks. Rumours spread in a vaccuum. It did.

Inexcusable is how cavalierly it announced its decision: A press release that raised more questions than answers. The qualifying body for a profession must at least advise each candidate by letter what it intends to do. It did not. One can guess why. The results are so messed up that even the Board did not know if a student passed or failed, so thoroughly it has been compromised.

Corruption in five steps

Corruption is at the base of every scandal. It does not matter if it concerns the Bakun Dam or the CLP examination. It is a way of life. It is then rich to assume the LPQB did not know of it in its bailliwick. Especially when on it are those whose official task includes ridding the country of corruption. How did it work with the CLP examinations? It worked at every level. First, the papers could be bought, the first link in the chain that must end in the offices of its executive director. Second, after the examinations, the markers would pass those who made it worthwhile for them to; some have called the students to demand money for a pass. Third, the marks are altered, with money changing hands, when they are keyed into a computer. Fourth, names are dropped of whose who pass, for yet another round of pickings from those prepared to pay. Fifth, if all this fails, one could, I am told, buy the CLP certificate for sums far more than what it cost one to pass the LL.B examination itself.

About a thousand sat for the July examination, and a few hundred the referral in October. The LPQB thought it affected only the October examination, and panicked it involved the July one as well. It is, in other words, a big racket. Lawyers in practice cannot distinguish between "plaintiff" and "defendant" and knows the law even less. Law is where, the young lawyers believe, millions can be made before they turn 30, and then into business to make even more. It is this culture that turned the judiciary into the mockery it once was. And touts aka clerks in the LPQB direct students to lawyers who conduct CLP classes on the quiet, and who remarkably spot the examination questions time after time. Why are they allowed to do this? The names are known to every tutorial college, and many a lawyer. How is it that the LPQB did not?

An impossible quandry

The students are put into an impossible quandry. They have to sit for the examinations in January. But they also look to legal moves to clarify the confusion. About half the 231 affected have been taken the Short Call, which allows them to appear in High Court chambers and in magistrate's courts. They are told they now cannot, though there is confusion here: since the LPQB refuses to do things properly, some judges continue to admit lawyers, others not. It points to the LPQB not having made its decision to nullify official.

This time, it blew open. The government is caught between two stools. And it cannot wish the scandal away. The CLP is discredited. How many lawyers practice who passed this way? One would never know. But this belief that papers could be bought has been around since the CLP examination was introduced. The authorities closed a blind eye.

It is in this confused state of affairs that those affect move the courts. Three broad actions are considered under constitutional and administrative law, some court actions have been filed, the police have said they would charge six - a clerk and five who sat for the CLP. This is the token the authorities offer in a mess. But they are not who are responsible for this mess. They are bit players who are caught. Last year, a CLP student called on the CLP executive director to complain of leaked papers a fortnight before the examinations. Khalid Yusof took pains to explain why this was not possible. And did nothing. Why?

M.G.G. Pillai