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MGG: The CLP fiasco: Why this Monday deadline?
By M.G.G. Pillai

1/12/2001 2:53 am Sat

[Ramai yang mungkin tidak berminat dengan kes CLP ini sedangkan ia satu isu yang boleh meletupkan banyak pihak yang buncit-buncit perut mereka. Kerajaan sudah menggelabah dalam isu ini dan sedang pening-pening sekarang ini kerana tiada siapa yang sudi rebah dahulu. Yang mungkin rebah di sini mungkin bukan satu sebab itulah semua sudah mula tergaru-garu. - Editor]

The Legal Profession Qualifying Board has, it seems, a death wish to remain in the centre of the CLP storm. Its director stands accused of destroying the CLP examination a foreign-trained lawyer must pass to practice in Malaysia. It acted in haste and fright to put right an 18-year problem in a fortnight. When the enormity of its negligence -- no more no less -- struck it, it dissembles again. It is now political pure and simple. Its made a mess of what it was asked to oversee. The government steps in -- too late, but never mind -- to provide yet another body to oversee it in future. The director is, as the convention is, assisting the police in its inquiries.

Now, it seeks to apportion blame. How else should one look upon its decision, signed by the LPQB's secretary, and communicated not by letter but by a notice outside its offices at 3.00 pm in Menara Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur yesterday (29 Nov 2001); "All appeals sent (sic) to the board's office at Menara Tun Razak by 9am on Dec 3". After refusing to interfere, and stonewalling what in the end were justified doubts, it now wants those dissatisfied to rush posthaste and apppeal. It does not have the courtesy to indicate that by letter. Or realise there is not enough time to collect themselves to appeal in a day, which is all they have, with the weekend in between. Meanwhile, the Malay Mail reported yesterday that the six arrested by the police for handling leaked question papers were amongst the passes. The Board goes on its high horse: "If the six are implicated, then we will take steps to nullify their results," the secretary, Dato' Abdul Wahab Said, said in a press statement.

The Board is under the distinct impression that all who sat for the examinations live in the Klang Valley and, more important, hang about the LPQB offices as a matter of course even after its decision last week. I met students from Brunei and almost every state in the federation, who rushed down when the crisis broke and no doubt went back when it was resolved. But at no time were there more than 100 students crowding its offices, usually less. No doubt those who want to appeal would read of it in the newspapers. But what of those, for instance in Sabah, Sarawak or Brunei where the news would not reach them when it is too late to respond? Especially if they live in the bondooks, in the longhouses up the Rejang River for instance, and incommunicado. And those who, having known of the results, had gone off on holiday and do not even know to this day that they have not passed but failed? One hopes this is not to punish those who questioned the results or for their temerity to fight for their rights. Why does the board collect unnecessary black eyes?

On another front, officials move at blinding speed. Haste in Bolehland, it seems, is the only yardstick for efficiency. The LPQB chairman and Attorney-General, Datin Seri Ainum Mohamed Said, has written her report, which she hands in piece meal to the de facto law minister, Dato' Seri Rais Yatim. The report would be ready by the weekend, and Dato' Seri Rais would no doubt have his ready for next Wednesday's cabinet meeting! And, of course, he now agrees, the CLP examination must be modified to make it more "transparent, effective and responsible". Was it not why the berriboned board was set up? Datin Seri Ainum has a month before her resignation takes effect. She must be asked, as the DAP chairman, Mr Lim Kit Siang suggests, to remain until this mess is sorted out. What is frighting about this sordid episode is that no one in authorities seems the least bothered at what had happened. Nothing they have done suggests it.

M.G.G. Pillai