Five-point formula to salvage credibility in public institutions, legal   professional integrity and national reputation from  the CLP examination scandal

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): One question uppermost in the minds of Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP) candidates and students, lawyers and the general public is why the Legal Profession Qualifying Board and the Police are treating Khalid Yusof, the CLP examinations director,  with “kid gloves” when he should have been sacked from the CLP secretariat,  arrested and prosecuted for being responsible for the CLP marks-tampering scandal.

The Board Chairman, Datuk Seri Ainum Mohd Saaid, who is also the Attorney-General, has publicly fingered Khalid as solely responsible for the CLP examinations marks-tampering crime, resulting in the failing of 113 of the students who had passed the  CLP July  main examination, plunging  a final pass rate to  only 119 or 12.92%,  the lowest in the history of CLP.

Ainum should explain why the Board had been so tardy in wasting 18 days before lodging  a police report on the crime of marks-tampering with the CLP exam results, which was made only yesterday, when the Board had discovered by November 10  about the marks-tampering because of the “many differences between the marks awarded by examiners on the candidates’ answer scripts and the marks entered upon the master result sheets submitted to the board for its approval without any reasonable explanation”.

In fact, the  Board secretary, Datuk Abdul Wahab Said  Ahmad admitted on Monday  that it was the marks-tampering and not examination paper leaks which was the main reason for the nullification of the July CLP examinations by the Board on November 12 - an important information which the Board withheld from public for at least two long weeks!

What was the reason why the Board  had failed to be truthful with the public about the real reason for the nullification of the July CLP examination results, and was the Board forced to reveal the information for it could not be “swept under the carpet” any longer as the public was about to learn about it from various sources?

It is shocking that under the circumstances, the Qualifying Board is still undecided about the status of Khalid,  still deliberating a resolution by the Bar last Saturday  calling for his immediate suspension, when the Bar Council’s resolution had already been overtaken by events and there is only one decision to be taken by the Board immediately - the instant sacking of Khalid as CLP examinations director, who should have been sacked on November 12, the date the Board announced the nullification of the CLP July exam results!

The Police have also not come out of the CLP scandal with credit -  failing to impress Malaysians with their efficiency, seriousness and professionalism as no one has been prosecuted in court yet.

Although  Federal Criminal Investigation Department deputy director Datuk Musa Hassan confirmed yesterday that the police had to date arrested six persons in connection with the CLP examination scandal -   with four released on bail while two, both clerks, still under remand - the arrests were in  connection with the CLP exam paper leak rather than for the crime of marks-tampering.

In its fumbling and bungling, the latest decision of the Qualifying Board had opened an even bigger “can of worms” in the conduct and credibility of the CLP examinations, piling sheer incompetence and denial on injustices and negligence, raising  more disturbing questions not only about the CLP examinations this year  but also of previous   years.

Three  new  issues had been opened up by the  Board which  cry  out for immediate resolution, viz:

Firstly, why did the Board go only half way to “re-grade” or rectify the marks-tampering in the CLP examinations this year, adjusting the answer scripts  “illegally marked up” but not those “illegally marked down”,  which is a great injustice to victims who deserved to pass but whose results had been tampered into failing!

Can the Board explain why they only dealt with scripts “marked up” and not with scripts “marked down” in the master result sheets as there had not been a single case of those who failed in the July examination being re-graded as having passed!

The  Board should  disclose how many answer scripts had been “illegally marked down”, which would be an indication of the number of CLP candidates this year  who should have passed if there had not been the marks-tampering scandal - probably explaining for the shockingly record-low  pass rate of CLP this year of only 12.92%.

Secondly, the problem of the  “tampering” during the marking of the individual examination papers.  Was there any hanky-panky in the marking of the CLP answer scripts? The integrity of the individual marking of the examination papers has been highlighted by the statement by the  Bar Council Chairman Mah Weng Kwai, who heads the Board’s review committee, that the Board will review the list of those who set the CLP questions as well as the examiners.

Thirdly, and most serious of all, the revelation of the “marks-tampering” scandal on top of the exam papers leak has cast a pall and  stigma on the  entire CLP examinations of recent years, raising the disturbing question as to whether the country is teeming with unqualified lawyers who illegally passed the CLP either through marks-tampering or exam paper leaks in the past few years!

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Rais Yatim, is talking about amendments to the Legal Profession Act  to ensure compulsory supervision of the CLP by the Board - which is totally redundant and unnecessary as it is legislating the obvious!

The Qualifying Board had been guilty of the most outrageous irresponsibility and negligence in not supervising the CLP, especially as there had been prevalent rumours of exam paper leaks and marks tampering in the past few years, which cannot be exonerated or exculpated with statements like: “The board members cannot overemphasise that none of them individually or collectively knew of the leakage until after the examination”.

The Qualifying Board should convene an emergency meeting to salvage the  credibility of public institutions,  legal professional integrity and national reputation from  the CLP examination scandal, with a five-point formula:

Parliament should  suspend its debate on the 2002 Budget on Monday and schedule a special debate on the ballooning CLP examination scandal, which affects not only the credibility and integrity of the CLP examination, the legal profession and the administration of justice, but also the reputation and future of the national aspiration to develop Malaysia into an international centre of educational excellence!


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman