Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Lawyers are bound by the supremacy of the Malay language

DATO' SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM V. TUN DR MAHATHIR MOHAMAD [2009] 1 LNS 1186

COURT OF APPEAL [PUTRAJAYA]
ABDUL MALIK ISHAK JCA, AZHAR MA'AH JCA, SYED AHMAD HELMY SYED AHMAD JCA
RAYUAN SIVIL NO: W-02-609-2007
2 NOVEMBER 2009

[42] We have seen the memorandum of appeal and it is obvious
that it is not drafted in Bahasa Malaysia. The supremacy of Bahasa
Malaysia or the Malay Language in our courts cannot be denied. Pursuant to Article 152 of the Federal Constitution read together with section 8 of
the National Language Acts 1963/1967 (Act 32) as well as section 3 of the
Interpretation Acts 1948 and 1967 (Act 388), all proceedings (other than
the giving of evidence by a witness) in the Federal Court, Court of Appeal,
the High Court or any subordinate court shall be in the National Language.
And according to Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution, the National
Language shall be the Malay Language.

[43] It would be ideal, at this juncture, to reproduce herein these
relevant provisions of the law.

[44] Article 152 of the Federal Constitution - our supreme law, states
as follows:

“152. National language.

(1) The national language shall be the Malay language and shall
be in such script as Parliament may by law provide:
Provided that:-
(a) no person shall be prohibited or prevented from using
(otherwise than for official purposes), or from teaching or
learning, any other language; and
(b) nothing in this Clause shall prejudice the right of the
Federal Government or of any State Government to
preserve and sustain the use and study of the language of
any other community in the Federation.
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of Clause (1), for a period of
ten years after Merdeka Day, and thereafter until Parliament
otherwise provides, the English language may be used in both
Houses of Parliament, in the Legislative Assembly of every State,
and for all other official purposes.
(3) Notwithstanding the provisions of Clause (1), for a period of
ten years after Merdeka Day, and thereafter until Parliament
otherwise provides, the authoritative texts-
(a) of all Bills to be introduced or amendments thereto to be
moved in either House of Parliament; and
(b) of all Acts of Parliament and all subsidiary legislation
issued by the Federal Government,
shall be in the English language.
(4) Notwithstanding the provisions of Clause (1), for a period of
ten years after Merdeka Day, and thereafter until Parliament
otherwise provides, all proceedings in the Federal Court, the Court
of Appeal or a High Court shall be in the English language:
Provided that, if the Court and counsel on both sides agree,
evidence taken in language spoken by the witness need not be
translated into or recorded in English.
(5) Notwithstanding the provisions of Clause (1), until Parliament
otherwise provides, all proceedings in subordinate courts, other
than the taking of evidence, shall be in the English language.
(6) In this Article, ‘official purpose’ means any purpose of the
Government, whether Federal or State, and includes any purpose of
a public authority.”

[45] Section 8 of the National Language Acts 1963/1967 (Act 32)
enacts as follows:

“Language of Courts

8. All proceedings (other than the giving of evidence by a witness) in
the Federal Court, Court of Appeal, the High Court or any
Subordinate Court shall be in the national language:
Provided that the Court may either of its own motion or on the
application of any party to any proceedings and after considering the
interests of justice in those proceedings, order that the proceedings
(other than the giving of evidence by a witness) shall be partly in the
national language and partly in the English language.”

[46] Section 3 of the Interpretation Acts 1948 and 1967 (Act 388) is a
definition section and it defines “National Language” to mean “the
national language provided for by Article 152 of the Federal
Constitution.”

[47] Then there is Rule 101 of the Rules of the Court of Appeal 1994
which states as follows:

“101. Document shall be in national language.

(1) Subject to subrule (2), any document required for use in
pursuance of these Rules shall be in the national language and
may be accompanied by a translation thereof in the English
language:

Provided that any document in the English language may be
used as an exhibit, with or without a translation thereof in the
national language.

(2) For Sabah and Sarawak, any document required for use in
pursuance of these Rules shall be in the English language and
may be accompanied by a translation thereof in the national
language:

Provided that any document in the national language may be
used as an exhibit, with or without a translation thereof in the
English language.”

[48] And Rule 18(1) of the Rules of the Court of Appeal 1994 clearly
states that it is the appellant who shall prepare a memorandum of appeal.
Factually speaking, the absence of the memorandum of appeal in the
National Language renders the record of appeal filed by the appellant
incurably defective and, consequently, the appellant’s appeal herein should
be dismissed with costs for the simple reason that there is no proper record
of appeal before this court. It is as simple as that.

[49] The importance of the Malay Language as the national
language cannot be taken lightly. Indeed Nik Hashim JC (later FCJ) in
Zainun bte Hj Dahan lwn. Rakyat Merchant Bankers Bhd & Satu Lagi [1998] 1 MLJ 532, at pages 535 to 536, emphasised the usage of the
Malay Language in our courts in these erudite terms:

“Pemfailan ‘notice of motion’ ini dalam Bahasa Inggeris bukan
sahaja menyalahi A. 92 k. 1 KMT malah ia juga melanggar s. 8 Akta
Bahasa Kebangsaan 1963/1967 (‘Akta tersebut’) yang
memperuntukkan:

‘Segala prosiding (selain daripada pemberian keterangan oleh
seseorang saksi) dalam Mahkamah Agung, Mahkamah Tinggi atau
mana-manaMahkamahRendah hendaklah dalambahasa kebangsaan:
Dengan syarat bahawa Mahkamah boleh, sama ada atas
kehendaknya sendiri atau atas permintaan mana-mana pihak dalam
mana-mana prosiding dan selepas menimbangkan kepentingan
keadilan dalam presiding itu, memerintahkan supaya prosiding
itu (selain daripada pemberian keterangan oleh seseorang saksi)
dijalankan sebahagiannya dalam bahasa kebangsaan dan
sebahagiannya dalam bahasa Inggeris.’

Penggunaan Bahasa Melayu di mahkamah tidak boleh
dipermudahkan dan diambil ringan. Perlembagaan Persekutuan
menetapkan bahasa kebangsaan negara ialah Bahasa Melayu
(Perkara 152). Dengan peruntukan undang-undang di atas, maka
keraguan atas penggunaan Bahasa Melayu dalam prosiding
mahkamah tidak boleh dipersoalkan lagi. Jadi, penggunaannya
hendaklah dilaksanakan dengan ketatnya oleh semua pihak.
Mahkamah hendaklah memainkan peranannya dengan
melaksanakan kuasanya dengan sewajarnya. Kaedah-kaedah
Mahkamah termasuk A. 92 k. 1 adalah digubal bukan untuk hiasan
tetapi untuk dipatuhi supaya presiding di mahkamah dapat berjalan
dengan sempurna. Ketakpatuhan kepada peraturan atau kaedahkaedah
mahkamah akan membawa presiding di mahkamah menjadi
kelam kabut (Sykt Telekom Malaysia Bhd v. Business Chinese
Directory Sdn Bhd [1994] 2 MLJ 420; [1993] 3 CLJ 629).
Permohonan melalui notis usul bukan suatu perkara yang susah
atau rumit untuk dibuat dalam Bahasa Melayu. Dalam kes ini, ‘notice
of motion’ sengaja dibuat dan difailkan bersekali dengan afidavit serta
pernyataan dalam Bahasa Inggeris tanpa memperdulikan
peruntukan A. 92 k. 1 KMT, Akta tersebut dan Perlembagaan
Persekutuan. Tidak ada sebab mengapa permohonan ini tidak boleh
dibuat dalam Bahasa Melayu. Teks yang sahih ialah teks dalam
Bahasa Melayu. Sekiranya mahkamah tidak berwaspada dan
bertindak dari awal, sudah tentu lampiran 3 ini akan ‘terlepas’ dan
pendengaran permohonan diteruskan tanpa mematuhi kaedah
tersebut. Ketakpatuhan undang-undang tidak boleh dibiarkan.
Permohonan di lampiran 3 adalah sungguh tidak teratur dan ia tidak
boleh diterima dan dipertimbangkan oleh mahkamah sama sekali.”

[50] We categorically say that the mandatory provisions of Article
152 of the Federal Constitution read together with section 8 of the National
Language Acts 1963/1967 (Act 32) and section 3 of the Interpretation Acts
1948 and 1967 (Act 388) must be adhered to. It requires the appellant to
file the memorandum of appeal in the National Language. No other
language will be entertained. And the failure of the appellant to do so
amounts to a blatant breach which would compel us to conclude that no
memorandum of appeal has been filed at all. The purported memorandum of appeal in the English language must accordingly be rejected outright
without further ado. What is mandatory, must be strictly adhered to.
Otherwise dire consequences would follow.

[51] Indeed the salutary advice of Chang Min Tat J (as he then was)
in Yu Oi Yong & Anor v. Ho Toong Peng & Ors [1977] 1 MLJ 120, at page 121, must be heeded, There his Lordship said:
“There should, in my view, be some adherence to the rules of court,
unless required by circumstances, if there is to be any meaning or
purpose in such rules.

It should I think, be realised by practitioners as well as by judges that
while strict and slavish adherence to forms and rules can sometimes
hinder the administration of justice, these forms and rules should
not be disregarded for no reason whatsoever, since they embody the
experience of the courts over the years in the cause [(sic) (course)]
of speedy and efficient administration of justice.”

[52] We observe that the word “shall” appears in section 8 of the
National Language Acts 1963/1967 (Act 32). Likewise, the word “shall”
also appear in Rule 18(1) and Rule 101 of the Rules of the Court of Appeal
1994. It is quite obvious that the use of the word “shall” raises a
presumption that the particular provision is imperative (State of U.P. v.
Manbodhan Lai Srivastava, and Manbodhan Lai Srivastava v. State of
U.P., A.I.R. [1957] S.C. 912, at page 917; State of Uttar Pradesh and
others v. Babu Ram Upadhya, AIR [1961] SC 751, at page 765; M/s.
Sainik Motors, Jodhpur and others v. State of Rajasthan, AIR [1961] SC
14 80, a t page 1485; and Gov in d Lai Chagga n Lai Pat e l v. The Agriculture Produce Market Committee and others, AIR [1976] SC 263,
at page 267), and it is also ordinarily mandatory. It is also correct to say
that when a statute uses the word “shall”, prima facie it is mandatory. And
once it is held to be mandatory, the failure to comply with it will invalidate
anything done under the statute.

[53] Thus, the failure on the part of the appellant to file a
memorandum of appeal in Bahasa Malaysia renders the purported record
of appeal filed by the appellant useless. It will not qualify as a record of
appeal. It is our judgment that there is no proper or competent appeal
before us.

Dato’ Abdul Malik bin Ishak
Judge, Court of Appeal,
Malaysia

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