Vince Tan has an urgent proposal for the Ministry of Higher Education — to reform the legal education system.

There exist many law schools in public and private institutions of higher learning which offer a law degree programme – namely, the Bachelor of Law (LLB) — and the number of these higher institutions of learning keep increasing, just like the Malay saying,“Bagai cendawan tumbuh selepas hujan”. The president of the Bar Council, Christopher Leong came out with a press release cautioning students who wish to pursue a law degree to exercise due diligence in selecting a law school. My only concern is this: Are all these degrees recognised by the Legal Profession Qualifying Board (LPQB)? I’m afraid not, as Mr Leong points out that five higher education institutions currently providing the course are not recognized by the LPQB, namely HELP University College, Management & Science University (MSU), Taylor’s University, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) and Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA). The million dollar question is why is this course available to the public by these institutions when they are not even recognized by the LPQB ? Don’t we have the Ministry of Higher Education to supervise the performance of these institutes?

Many students aspiring to be lawyers would probably study very hard to ensure their dreams become a reality. But what if, despite doingthe best they could and ending up with good results, they later came to know that their degree is not recognised,  therefore making them unable to practise as a lawyer. Being a law student myself, I am constantly being reminded by my seniors to be grateful for being able to study University Malaya and therefore not having to face all that crap. However, I see nothing to be proud of if we look at the quality and the way the university is being run by those “donkeys”.

Nonetheless, it does not stop me from being sympathetic towards my other peers who became victims to this oppressive profit-making business called ‘education’. We all know that education is not a commodity, but a basic human right towards the development of mankind. “Give a man an education and he can build you a new world; give a man a loan you can own him forever”. I understand that many students are funded by the National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) loan, where students who obtain the loan have to pay it back with interest, in order to finance their tertiary education. Due to this, burdening the students with this debt for an unrecognised degree would not only be a sin, but also the highest level of immorality a man can do to another, which is to destroy one’s hope and dreams.

One cannot help but to blame the Ministry of Education for allowing all this courses to make a profit out of this endeavour, particularly the private institutions. We must bear in mind how demand and supply works in higher education. With the availability of the PTPTN loan, there is a demand for students to further their education in the course of their choice at institutions of higher learning, but are there enough places in public university to cater to their needs? That is where private institutions of higher learning comes in to make money, by charging a higher fee to those students compared to the ones in public universities. Merely harping on about the problem is not going to help solve the problem; therefore, I have a proposal that might actually solve this problem of unrecognised law courses on offer, which requires a little bit of political will from the ruling. Firstly, instead of opening up new institutions of higher learning, the government should establish more branches of public universities with proper recognition, offering courses of various choices according to demand and supply at a nationwide level. This will mean that universities with recognised degrees, especially law degrees, would be able to set up branches in other states, thus allowing them replace those unqualified law schools. This will prevent the students being conned into studying for a worthless and unrecognised degree.

Secondly, all courses offered in institutions of higher learning must be recognized before the course is implemented and offered to the public for enrolment, and the subjects must be removed if they fails to qualify for their respective ISOs. Thirdly, members of the legal profession board should be allowed to get involved in the decision-making process concerning the way law is being taught in schools, in accordance with Section 42 (1) (b) of the Legal Professions Act 1976, which allows these schools“ to maintain and improve the standards of conduct and learning of the legal profession in Malaysia”. Last but not least, it would do all parties some good to listen to the students regarding the way they are being taught law in these institutions.. The way law is taught nowadays is outdated, with a focus on rote learning and a congested workload, with students allotted as many as seven subjects a semester.  It allows students very little room for anything else, nevermind taking part in student activism or extracurricular activities outside campus grounds.

In other words, the legal education system needs to be reformed, and it needs to be done soon, before students’ futures are further compromised.

Featured image from Arthur Lee Lin & Co.

Political Strategist in the making, Lawyer to be, and Protagonist by choice. I believe in a better Malaysia. A Malaysian Malaysia.

9 replies on “A Law Degree or Just Any Other Degree?”

  1. Irrespective if a student obtains Class 1 / 2 or 3 honours in his or her LLB examinations, the person should by their own choice be allowed to sit for the CLP examination. The reading of laws of the land and it's application is evolving rapidly and if the old and draconian rule of only allowing Class 1 & 2 students the privilege to still for the CLP exams seems absurd in this day and age…Everyone who has gone through the process and have obtain the even 3rd class honors must be given the opportunity to sit for the CLP examination. Then and only then if they pass the exam should theybe given the choice and decide if they want to do chambering and persue a career in law or otherwise..

  2. CLP is another sin, for the offeror and the offeree. It is just a totally unfair and harsh examination for the purpose to be called to the bar. I am not saying foreign law graduates to be excluded from local law exam, but how the CLP board runs the exam is another important issue.

    Loud voices to reform CLP was heard many years ago, however no progressive development though. Regardless local or foreign law graduates, as a matter of fairness, consistency and professional standard, all should be nurtured under a same par.

  3. always hear people suggest to abolish PTPTN due to it is a right to education but in my view, right means something that is necessary, a necessity, that we need it to survive. Thus, isn't it right to say the right to education means primary to secondary education (Form 5) where it is sufficient for people to find a job, to get salary and survive? People who went for Higher Education, is it to survive or is it to prosper their life, their dream then? You know something in economy where some people don't mind paying more than necessary due to the prestigious label? In my view, which you might not agree with, to pursue one's degree is no longer a right but a choice. By removing certain universities' subject due to their recognition,are we interfering with someone's right to earn a living then? You know staffs will be sacked if we were to follow your suggestion. Those universities should told their applicant that their degree is not recognized in the first place. But at the end, an institute gives a cert at the cost of paying their fees. They will never mention whether their cert is guaranteed to be recognized.

  4. One shouldn't need an LLB to practise as an Advocate or Solicitor. Even the University of London recognizes this and adds it's public perception that demands that lawyers have an LLB besides the Bar or CLP. All one needs to practise as an Advocate and Solicitor is the Bar or CLP. To do the Bar, any general degree would do. Matured students like veteran journalists should be allowed to sit for the Bar or CLP as long as they have minimum Form 5. The LLB has nothing to do really with Court Room work.

        1. GDL? In Malaysia there is only the General Driving Licence (GDL) which is offered by driving schools.

          1. I heard that some institutions in Malaysia offer the post-graduate diploma in law to LLB graduates who only get a 3rd class degree and are therefore not eligible to do the CLP or who have taken the CLP and failed. The rationale given to the students by these institutions is that at least they can tell employers that they have the post-graduate diploma in law when asked whether they have the CLP. Some institutions even encourage students to do the post graduate diploma in law and the CLP at the same time on the grounds that even if they fail the latter, they will at least have the the former and there won't be "any gap" in time after LLB to explain to the potential employer. All this is just bullshit by the institutions who are also equating the post-graduate diploma in law with the graduate diploma in law (GDL) offered in England and Wales to non-law degree holders to enter the legal profession. The fact is that there's no reason for an employer, other than a legal firm, to ask for the CLP. Also, having the post-graduate diploma in law will not enable the LLB holder to chamber and be admitted to the High Court in Malaya. I don't know about the High Court in Borneo.

  5. And we haven't even started to think about health education.

    The scam there is equally immoral. In addition MAHSA, physically, is a blight on the once-lovely Jalan Elmu area in PJ which lead to the once well-respected UM.

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