Although Section 7 of the Legal Profession Act (LPA) 1976 stipulates that the Chairman of the Bar Councill shall be one of the five members of the Legal Profession Qualifying Board, the Bar Council must declare its stand on the Board decision to nullify the CLP examinations this year as to whether it accords or varies with that taken by the Bar Council Chairman, Mah Weng Kai as a member of the Qualifying Board.
It was reported that the Qualifying Board met behind closed doors at its office for at least eight hours yesterday over the storm created by its November 12 decision to nullify the results of the July main and October supplementary CLP examinations this year.
Who had chaired the Qualifying Board meeting of over eight hours yesterday, when there was no Attorney-General to chair the Board, as Datuk Ainum Mohd Saaid was packing her bags after tendering her resignation and Datuk Abdul Gani Patail still to take up his new appointment as Attorney-General.
Section 8 of the LPA empowers the election of an acting Chairman by members of the Board present at the meeting when the Chairman is absent, and it is in the spirit of accountability and transparency that the public and in particular the CLP candidates be informed as to who was elected acting Chairman of the Board meetintg yesterday and the outcome and decisions taken after more than eight hours of meeting.
However, the LPA does not provide for an acting Board Chairman for in-between Board meetings, and it would be most unfortunate if in the midst of the CLP exam leaks scam when fair, just and swift decisions must be taken to end the injustice imposed on innocent, honest and hardworking candidates, the Qualifying Board is further crippled because there is no proper Chairman because of the passing of the baton in the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
With the announcement of Gani Patail as the Attorney-General from next year, and his takeover from Ainum as Acting Attorney-General, the public wants to know when Gani will assume responsibility as Chairman of the Qualifying Board - or whether the Qualifying Board will be “head-less” for the worst crisis of its history with no firm leadership to deal with the CLP exam paper scam to ensure justice for the innocent, honest and hardworking candidates?
The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said the members of the Legal Profession Board should also be investigated in relation to the CLP examination paper leaks.
I agree with him when he said: “We can’t just say investigate the office boys and don’t investigate those in a position of authority. I would like to see those in positions of authority also answer some questions. The police should be quick to undertake this.”
Can the police, whether Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai or the CID director-general Comm Datuk Salleh Mat Som clarify whether all the Board members, including Ainum, had been interrogated by the police - as otherwise Rais’ statement is meaningless and only good for reading!
In focussing on the criminal responsibility of the Board members, if any, Rais had omitted the moral responsibility of the Board members and the entire executive staff, especially the CLP examination director Khalid Yusof, for their culpability in allowing the CLP examination to become such a scandal, which need not await the outcome of any police investigations for firm actions to be taken - whether resignations or dismissals.