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Sabah's Commissioners for Oaths set up body
Published on: Friday, August 10, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah's 180-odd Commissioners for Oaths in private practice have formed their first association to follow in the footsteps of Council of Justices of the Peace Sabah (Majaps) with the hope of working together for public good.

Headed by lawyer Roger Chin Ken Fong, the Persatuan Pesuruhanjaya Sumpah Sabah or the Sabah Commissioners for Oaths Association is registered with the Registrar of Societies, effective July 30, and has a pro tem committee of seven.

It hopes to recruit more members from the legal fraternity, private practitioners and retired Commissioners for Oaths for mutual and public benefits. Its Secretary Vivien Rachel Lassan can be contacted at 019-8024511 for membership details.

Commissioners for Oaths from all over Sabah comprise people from all walks of life, according to Company Secretary Ambrose Obon.

He said from March this year, all such commissioners have to pass an examination, unlike before, to be qualified for private practice.

There is even a retired military medical doctor, Captain Dr Zulfikar Zulkifli, among others, present at the new Court Complex here for their annual audit with the authorities. Commissioners for Oaths now can serve up to age 66, instead of 65.

There is an association based in Peninsular Malaysia representing Commissioners for Oaths in the country, but not many such commissioners in Sabah joined the association.

With their own association and a stronger representation, Sabah Commissioners for Oaths hope to be able to negotiate concession airfares with airlines for attending official matters in Kuala Lumpur at short notice, being in the role of serving the public like public servants.

Members of the new Sabah Commissioners for Oaths Association plan to pay a courtesy call on the Head of State, Chief Minister and the federal Minister in charge of legal affairs soon to present their stance and concerns on issues such as the IMM13 documents for refugees or migrants.

Among the roles of the association is to oversee the integrity of the profession governed by the Commissioners for Oaths Rules 2018, which also governs the fees chargeable for services.

Commissioners for Oaths also help the public to understand the seriousness of their sworn statements as signing a court testimony without knowing the truth could get the signatory in trouble for perjury and be punished under the Oaths and Affirmation Act 1949.

The commissioners also verify the identity of a person who wants to certify a statement, usually to make sure there are no mistakes. They also watch for people who want to commit fraud. If a person is suspicious, they will refuse their services to anyone they have credible reason to suspect as being involved in crime.

A Commissioner for Oaths also certifies sworn statements. In Malaysia, Commissioners for Oaths come in two varieties - the lawyer and the public officer. They affirm and verify documents and statements that will be used as legal proof in one way or another.

According to the Commissioner for Oaths Rules 2018, they have the power to perform the below:

- Receive acknowledgements of a married woman where required by law (Lawyers only).

- Receive acknowledgements of recognisance of bail or bail bonds. (Lawyers only)

- Administer oaths for: 1. Justification for bail; 2. Affidavits and affirmation documents; 3. Swearing executors and administrators (people who manage and distribute inheritance); 4. Any persons who will be attending court proceedings; 5. Taking and receiving statutory declarations (sworn statements); 6. Receiving and taking the answer, plea, demurrer, disclaimer, allegation or examination of any person involved in legal proceedings (Lawyers only); 7. The examination of witnesses (Lawyers only); and 8. Certify marriage.

Sabah still requires a lot of Commissioners for Oaths, especially to serve in rural areas. - David Thien


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