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Nation’s first judicial museum in KK
Published on: Wednesday, February 19, 2020
By: Larry Ralon
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KOTA KINABALU: Sabah created legal history, Tuesday, with the official opening of the country’s first judicial museum and art gallery encompassing both the Bornean states at the new Kota Kinabalu Court Complex.  

The Sabah & Sarawak Judicial Museum was jointly opened by Chief Justice of Malaysia Tan Sri Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat and Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Tan Sri David Wong Dak Wah. 

Chief Judge of Malaya, Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Azahar Mohamed, Chief Registrar of the Federal Court, Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh, and Amelati Parnell, Registrar of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak, among others, were also present. Wong who retires tomorrow (Wednesday) said the museum on the fifth floor of the court house is meant to tell the history that was overlooked since the formation of Malaysia. 

“We are not here just to see this museum for one day, but for the rest of our lives. I want to thank the committee involved who have worked tirelessly in making this significant project a dream come true. Their hard work is a great contribution to us in making sure the judiciary tale is told to today’s and future generations. 

“In this museum, you will notice that extensive planning and research were done by the team so that our and the past generation’s story are preserved,” he said, adding he was inspired during his visits to courts in the US and UK, by the way those courts’ history and artefacts were showed. 

“The establishment of this museum and art gallery is timely since for the first time, some 56 years thereafter, the Registry of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak moved to Kota Kinabalu on Nov. 15 last year,” he said. 

He said since the appointment of Sir Campbell Wylie as the first Chief Justice of Borneo in 1963, the registry of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak has always been in Kuching and for the first time after 56 years, the registry was moved to Kota Kinabalu, which is on a 10-year rotation in accordance to Article 121 of the Federal Constitution. 

“The move was historical and ought to be documented as part of Sabah and Sarawak legal history,” he said.

The museum also displays the Royal Coat of Arms, which Wong said is a priceless legal artefact and can only be seen here at the Sabah and Sarawak Judicial Museum. 

“Between 1881 and 1882, the North Borneo Chartered Company was given the concession to administer and to govern North Borneo. It was only in 1888 that English law was introduced through the establishment of courts, the judges’ appointment and the enactment of the laws. Hence, the display of The Royal Arms in courts. 

“On Sept 16 1963, the Crown Colony of North Borneo together with Sarawak, Singapore (which left in 1965) formed Malaysia and thereafter all courts replaced the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom with the coat of Arms of Malaysia as the courts no longer represent the British monarch. 

“This 132-year-old Royal Coat of Arms that you see today was kept and preserved by Sandakan Court. It was handed over to the Sabah and Sarawak Judicial Museum in April 2019 during the launching of this court complex,” he said. 

On the art gallery located on the second and third floor of the courthouse, Wong said the Sabah and Sarawak Judiciary took up the challenge to establish the addition into the courthouse as an effort to cultivate appreciation of art in society, which is also enrichment to the respective artists.

“The courthouse is open to the public. It is only suitable that an art gallery exists here as is the case in some countries like the United Kingdom. This has always been our vision for this grandiose building in Kota Kinabalu,” he said. 

“Social justice promotes a resilient and strong society. Therefore, the significance of this museum to society is immeasurable. 

“It is my desire, and that of the entire Sabah and Sarawak Judiciary that we will embrace the museum and dedicate enough time and attention to it. The museum serves as a reminder of our shared past, a past that inspires and motivates us to work for a better future. 

“It is my dream that several years from now, I will be able to come to this museum in the company of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I imagine that day I will shake the hand of my posterity and tell them of the stories that are now enshrined in this museum. This is the only place where our stories of sufferings, delights, and triumphs in search of justice are enshrined. If we have better understanding of our history, we will lead better lives with love for each other and for our country,” he said.


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