.. From the little that has been revealed about the new qualifying exam, passing the CBE or ABC or XYZ, whatever you want to call it, still remains a matter for the subjective discretion of a panel of examiners.
The main grouse with the CLP exam is the lack of transparency in marking papers, as indicated by the remarks of the individuals mentioned earlier.
A low pass rate is synonymous with the exam, where of the 1,000-odd students who sit for the CLP exam every year, just over 100 including repeat candidates pass.
Undoubtedly, the CLP is a tough exam, but when top graduates from renowned foreign universities far more prestigious that our own University Malaya – whose standards have taken a dive where the CLP is concerned – flunk the exam, it does raise eyebrows.
Khalid’s case also brought out the ugly truth about the Legal Profession Qualifying Board – that there was a quota system of 30-35% in favour of bumiputras.
So, would the CBC and CBE – which are probably a conduit for better quality legal professionals in this country – going to go the way of the CLP? Will these too be tainted by allegations of questionable examination methods and unfair practices?
In an attempt to ensure that the profession is not saturated, will candidates for the CBC and CBE also be victimised – deliberately failed to maintain exclusivity?
The course and exam, according to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim will be overseen by a non-profit organisation supported by the government, while the Attorney-General Chambers, Bar Council, Malaysia Qualification Agency and universities would provide input on the implementation of the new qualifying exam.
One has no quarrel with that, but it is the same AG’s Chambers that has vehemently denied any quota for the CLP, although the extremely low pass rate – especially for candidates who register and study for the exam at private colleges, as opposed to University Malaya – seems to indicate otherwise.
Which is why the focus now is to ensure that the implementation of the CBC and CBE will not be blemished by the same issues that marred the CLP.
Politicians and those who could be influenced by issues that have nothing to do with a candidate’s aptitude, must be barred from having any say in the examination’s pass rate.
Merit and only merit must be the deciding factor in whether a candidate passes or fails. Anything less would be going back to square one and casting a shadow over the credibility of the exam and the institutions entrusted with conducting it.