Fahri Azzat, Malaysiakini reader and a lawyer wrote in to blast the CLP or Certifice in Legal Practice.
Fahri explained that the CLP, supposedly the Malaysian equivalent of the English Bar exams, had been created to enable British-trained Malaysian lawyers, who cannot (nor want to) be called to the English Bar, to take bridging examinations to facilitate their admission into the Malayan Bar.
Fahri lamented that the CLP had long since fallen into disrepair because its exam standards haven’t kept up with relevant competencies that a lawyer requires.
But the CLP continues to be in force, where passing it is virtually an impossibility, because according to Fahri, its objective has changed to one more sinister. He revealed to us what the purpose of the CLP is today:
“From my meagre experience at the Malaysian Bar, I conjecture that it is to help out the local graduates that are being churned out by the aircraft-carrier loads from the local universities get jobs. The truth is that most of these local graduates, who often tend to be Malays (because it is 'difficult' for the non-Malays to get in) possess very poor skill sets - very poor language skills (both in Malay and English), the level of sophistication in their thinking is very low, they lack a creative critical faculty and have poor research skills.”
“I know this because I have interviewed fair number of them during job interviews. Of course, the best in these local universities are really good and can probably blow away even those top overseas graduates out of the water. I would say that the proportion between the excellent, good, average and poor in these local universities is in the shape of a pyramid.”
“Those lacking in these skills predictably have difficulty finding employment. And that is the main complaint of a lot of the established law firms that maintain a very high standard. They don't want to hire these local law graduates. Given a choice they would hire a foreign graduate because they generally tend to possess most of those necessary skill sets to some measure.”
“I am certain that sometime in its development, somebody must have come up with a brilliant plan to 'Tolong Melayu' and made the CLP harder to pass so that the influx of foreign graduates turns into a trickle. The scarcity of these foreign graduates naturally would force these law firms to bite the bullet and hire the local graduates. If they don't do this, they lose the fee.”
“And does this help the locally graduated lawyers or the entire legal profession in the end? No. In fact, it encourages and perpetuates a worsening of standards.”
Fahri then provided point by point why he reckoned the sinister use of the CLP has in real terms failed the Malay law graduates.
He concluded: “… the use of the CLP as a tool of political social engineering to give a leg up to the local, especially Malay, graduates. When you have one leg up, it's easier to fall down. It's best to let them stand on their own two feet and see whether they are fit enough to survive. Because if they are not, then they have no business being there in the first place.”