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English needed for international trade, say experts in M'sia
Publication Date : 19-09-2013
English is not just crucial for the development of the legal system, but also Malaysia’s role as a player in international commercial arbitration.
Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration director Professor Sundra Rajoo said English had become “the lingua franca in international commercial arbitration because English is the common language of trade”.
He said this in commending former Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi, who had called for more and better use of English in the legal system if Malaysia did not want to be left behind. Azmi’s call was published in StarEducate on September 15.
“Even France and Germany, which have a developed legal language, use English in international agreements and contracts.
“What more Malaysia, where the Malay language (legal vocabulary in Bahasa Malaysia) is less developed?” Zaki said.
Sundra said globalisation and harmonisation dominated international commercial arbitration.
“As a result, the number of international disputes submitted to arbitration has increased tremendously in recent decades.”
Former Bar Council chairman Lim Chee Wee agreed with the two.
“In order to be an effective and persuasive advocate, the lawyer must have a good command of the English language.
“It is probably the unanimous view of all firms that the average standard of English amongst law graduates has deteriorated.”
From his experience in cross-border practice, he said Chinese, Indonesian and Thai lawyers have a command of English “as good as some of our better lawyers”.
Holding the government responsible for politicising education, Lim said it should help raise the standard of education so young Malaysians were better equipped to compete globally.