Speech by Chief Minister of Penang
for Certificate Presentation Ceremony for Mediation
Royal Hotel, Jalan Larut
12 August 2018, 8 p.m.
Yang Berhormat Speaker Dewan Undangan Negeri Dato Law Choo Kiang
Yang Arif Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi Dato Lim Chong Fong
Yang Berhormat Ahli Exco Negeri Dr Afif Bahardin
Yang Berhormat Ahli Exco Negeri Tuan Soon Lip Chee
Yang Berhormat Setiausaha Negeri Dato Seri Farizan Darus
Yang Berhormat Penasihat Perundangan Negeri Dato Anas Ahmad Zakie
Yang Berbahagia Ketua Polis Negeri Dato Seri Thaiveegan Arumugan
Yang Berbahagia Pengarah AIAC Datuk Sundra Rajoo
Yang Berbahagia Presiden Majlis Jaksa Jaksa Pendamai Negeri Pulau Pinang Dato Seri R. Arunasalam
Yang Berbahagia Penasihat Majlis Jaksa Jaksa Pendamai Negeri Pulau Pinang Tan Sri Haji Yusof Latif
Yang Berbahagia Penasihat Majlis Jaksa Jaksa Negeri Pulau Pinang Dato Seri Markend Joshi
Dato Dato, Datin Datin, Dif Dif Kehormat, Ahli-ahli Media Massa, Tuan Tuan dan Puan Puan sekalian
1. The Institution of Justices of the Peace (JP) is a British creation. As a British colony, the then Straits Settlements of Penang inherited the tradition of appointing JPs from among its eminent individuals and community leaders. The honorary office comes with significant statutory and public roles. These include maintaining peace and act as lay magistrates to try minor offences. However, it is to be noted that their influence and standing in the community had extended their duties and services to include serving as mediators in community and business disputes. All these contributions are well recorded in the history of Penang. The first known JP appointed in the then Straits Settlements was the late Foo Tye Sin in 1872. So, on record the JP institution in Penang existed since the 19th century.
2. The post-independence appointment of JPs by the State Authority is governed by the Subordinate Courts Act 1948 (revised 1972). In true tradition, the Penang JPs have lived up to their statutory roles as quasi judicial officer in serving the state. All appointed JPs took their oath of allegiance to the state as a public officer and all the public services rendered are performed pro bono.
3. In their private capacities, most of the JPs have also serve voluntarily in various social and welfare organisations across the all sectors of the community. I can recognise many of you here in this hall tonight. The state government of Penang do recognise your immense contributions, particularly in complementing the government’s effort for the betterment of the state.
4. Syabas! I commend the Council of Justices of the Peace in Penang for their commitment, unselfish and unfailing contributions for the well being and services to the community of Penang over the years.
5. To the current JPs under the leadership of Dato Sri R. Arunasalam, I applaud your courage and determination to transform and bring the JP institution to a different level, to be in tandem with the needs of the community. Your effort to transform the institution of JPs in Penang, particularly in offering mediation services deserves high commendation.
6. I have read with interest how the idea of offering mediation services was crystallised. It started from a suggestion by Y.A. Dato’ Lim Chong Fong, a Anak Pulau Pinang, then an advocate and solicitor, sometime in 2014. The JPs took it seriously and met up with Dato Lim to discuss the plan and process. Ir Harbans Singh, another Anak Pulau Pinang, who is also a certified Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) practitioner was invited to give a short seminar to all JPs. Due to the overwhelming interest shown, the Penang JP approached the Director of Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (KLRCA), now known as Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC), Datuk Sundra Rajoo, also a Anak Pulau Pinang, for his endorsement and support. Without hesitation, he gave the nod and the rest is history. Ir Harbans Singh gave his time to provide the training together with his team from the AIAC.
7. In this regard, the state government wish to place on record our appreciation to the 3 distinguished Anak Pulau Pinang, namely Y.A. Dato Lim Chong Fong, YBhg Datuk Sundra Rajoo and Ir Harbans Singh, the unsung heroes, for their contribution back to our beloved Penang state.
8. At this juncture, I congratulate the Council again for successfully trained over 40 community leaders, both JPs and non-JPs, to serve the community through the JP Mediation Bureau which was officially launched by the Tuan Yang Terutama (TYT) Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas
Read in July last year. Today, Penang is the only state where the JPs are providing mediation services to the community. This is indeed another first (achievement) for the state of Penang.
9. Mediation is a consensual and flexible dispute resolution procedure targeted to achieve a speedy, economical and non-acrimonious resolution of the dispute. It is suitable for family, personal, commercial and other types of civil disputes. In mediation, the Mediator acts as facilitator, a neutral third party, to assist in settlement of disputes. In certain circumstances, the Mediator may play the role of evaluator if seek upon by the disputants. The sole purpose of mediation is to get both parties to come to an agreement or settlement. That is, facilitating the parties to reach their own agreement at their own terms. It is the most cost effective method of dispute resolution and is gaining popularity.
10. The JPs are eminent persons with high community standing and having undergone mediation skills training are best fitted to offer mediation services to the people of Penang through the JP Mediation Bureau. The state is committed to support the JP Mediation Bureau which is offering mediation services on pro bono basis. At the same time, the state may also consider your proposal that the state establish a state mediation centre with the local JPs, serving as mediators.
11. I understand that a few JPs had previously served in the Court annexed mediation. To this I must congratulate them for earning the confidence of the Judiciary and it proves that JPs are eminent persons of both high standing and integrity. Being quasi judicial officers of the state, I hope the JPs, especially those trained in mediation will continue to be appointed by the Court as and when the need arises.
12. Apart from their statutory roles and duties, the Penang JPs through its registered Council has played an exemplary role in community services. Their welfare fund has over the years helped the less fortunate in the community. The JP Council is also one of the first to come forward and contribute to the State Poverty Fund during its launch.
13. Touching on the memorandum received on the 13 June, I have studied the content and will respond to some of the pertinent points. The state is just as concerned with the diminishing number of JPs in Penang, currently 72, with less than 10 below age 75, due to non-appointment since 1990. Consider that the institution of JPs is still relevant and is transforming, the state acknowledges their value and unique roles and will study to resume the reappointment process in due course. The state will also look into the past records and reinstate some of the roles/appointments which were traditionally held by JPs upon resumption of appointments.
14. Again, congratulations to the Council of Justices of the Peace, state of Penang and Asian International Arbitration Centre for their successful collaboration to train mediators to serve the state. To the all the JP-AIAC trained mediators, your interest and commitment to serve the community will be greatly appreciated by the state.