CLP reputation as  most difficult examination in country with no one getting first class honours in past 17 years - well-deserved or deliberate hanky-panky  “obstacle course” unrelated to professional standards and  academic excellence?

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Sunday): The Legal Profession Qualifying Board has extended indefinitely the Monday deadline for appeal against the new “regraded” July/October results of the Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP) examination by the  171 candidates who are aggrieved - as those who secured clear passes were reduced substantially from 232 to 119 while those who secured conditional passes (failure in one of the five papers) dwindled to 170 from 228.

However, the right to appeal against the CLP results this year  should be extended to all 802 candidates who did not get clear passes and not just the 171 who had failed after being awarded clear and conditional passes because of the marks-tampering.

This is because the Qualifying Board had not dealt with the “marked-down” cases of students who had been unfairly victimised by the marks-tampering scandal into failing when they should have passed.

The Board Chairman, Datuk Seri Ainum Mohd Saaid had said that the Board had not re-marked or re-graded the answer scripts, but only taken  the genuine marks from the answer sheets and transfer them to a new master sheet to  regrade the students.

This was because  the Board had found  “substantial irregularities” between examiners’ marks on answer scripts and the master sheet compiled by the director of CLP examinations Khalid Yusof - with an unspecified number of answer scripts illegally marked up or down.

The results after “re-grading” by the Board showed only adjustments of scripts “illegally marked up” but not those “illegally marked down” -  those who deserved to pass but whose results had been tampered into failing!

The  Board has so far ignored this issue and failed to explain why they only dealt with scripts “marked up” and not with scripts “marked down” as there had not been a single case of those who failed in the July examination being re-graded as having passed!

This is why the right to appeal against  CLP results this year should be extended to all the 802 candidates who want to have a second opinion of their answer scripts as to whether they had been unfairly failed when they should have passed  and not just the  171 who had failed after being  awarded clear passes.

The extension of the  right of appeal to CLP students against the unfair marking of their   scripts and  victimised into  failing in the original instance is fully warranted  in view of the outrageously low pass rate for the CLP this year.

With the original announcement of 232  or 25.19 per cent of the 921 CLP candidates this year achieving clear passes, it is already the lowest pass rate  in the 17-year history of CLP, which  had consistently hovered around 30%.

After the “re-grading” by the Board, failing 113 of the 232 who had been  awarded full passes, the CLP clear pass rate this year plunged to the unbelievable  rate of 13%, raising questions as to how many students had their scripts “marked down” - victimised into failing  when they should have passed in the original instance.  It also raises the question as to whether something is very wrong with the CLP candidates or the examiners, or those who tampered with the marks!

The CLP has the reputation of being the most difficult examination in the country, as testified by the consistently  very high rate of failure and by the fact that  not  a single person  had ever obtained first class honours in the CLP in its 17-year history.

After the multi-layered CLP scandal, there must be a full inquiry as to whether the reputation of the CLP examination as the most difficult examination in the country is well-deserved or whether it was  the result of a long-running hanky-panky, deliberately turning it  into an “obstacles course” to keep the pass rate very low which is  completely  unrelated to  professional standards, academic excellence or  examination performance of the candidates.

There should be a full review of the CLP examination results, to ascertain the reasons for the low rate of passes as well as why there had not been a single case of first class honours in the past 17 years, when the scholastic attainments of Malaysian students are comparable with the best in the world - starting with the review of the cases of answer scripts this year which had been  “marked down” in the transfer to the master result sheets.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman