Sunday, June 10, 2018

An Outrageous Story From A Court

By GK Ganesan

Malaysia is a multi racial country that practices common law.  Three races have substantial populations: the Malays, the Chinese and Indians.  The official language is Malay, although English is allowed in courts.  Most workmen are not fluent in Malay, well at least, not back in 1994, when our story takes place. 
I had been in practice when I was sent off to conduct a civil trial at the magistrate’s court.  So, I rush to court all ready for trial, and am told that the magistrate had taken ill.  So the next thing to do is to get another date, for trial.  So we pull our diaries out.  The court clerk says: ‘No can do.  You have to get a date from the other Relief Magistrate next door’. Off we all troop to the next court. 
It is a traffic court, and as usual, packed.  The lawyers from my court add to the crush. The magistrate is a young, bleary-eyed lady.  We can gather that she must have been up all night, possibly looking after the baby. Someone rises and says, ‘Your Honour, we need to get another date for all the postponed cases’.  The magistrate eyes flick up. ‘Not until I finish this court’s list of case. So all of you have to wait’. Despair is written on our faces, but we wait. I had never been in a traffic court.  But I heard that they could send you to chokey or fine you a large sum.  So I get to watch how traffic offences are dealt with. 
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GK Ganesan is a senior advocate and solicitor practicing in Kuala Lumpur.

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