Sarawak Government must review the probate application policy


Media Statement By Irene Chang:

I call upon the law minister in the Sarawak Government to urgently review the policy which was issued by the State Attorney-General Chambers to all the District Offices in Sarawak whereby an executor of a deceased’s estate needs to make separate probate applications at each individual district office where the estate of the deceased had consisted of landed properties located in different districts of Sarawak.

The standard practice prior to this new policy was that the executors would make the probate application at any one District Office in the district at which the estate of the deceased consist of some landed properties. That particular District Office would then obtain consent from the other District Offices concerned to proceed with the application, without needing the executor to make separate applications at every District Office where the Deceased had their properties. This practice is supported by the Statutory Declaration required to be signed by the executors whereby they would have to declare that they have never lodged a report of the probate matter at any other District Office.

This policy had made sense and should have been improved on by the state authorities by
making available online applications on par with the digital transformation which is constantly advocated for by the Premier of Sarawak. This would enhance productivity and efficiency in our government departments and hence improve their quality of service to the people.

However, instead of improving on this policy, the policy now being practiced by these District Offices has not only retrogressed our society but is also making a mockery of the Premier’s determination and commitment to achieve a digital transformed society in Sarawak. With this policy, not only do our people have to make physical applications but instead they also have to physically run around different parts of Sarawak in order to apply for the probate of the estate of the deceased from different district offices if the deceased have landed properties in different parts of Sarawak.

Thus, at the end of the day, does it mean that the executor concerned would be armed with
at least 2-3 probates from different parts of Sarawak before they are able to carry out their
duty to administer the estate? Won’t this new policy double or triple the time normally taken to process the probates? Furthermore, with the new policy in force, won’t it also mean that what is declared in the accompanying Statutory Declaration by the executor that he has never lodged a report of the probate matter at any other District Office would be a false declaration punishable under the law as the Statutory Declaration is in the standard form given by the District Office?

I therefore strongly call upon not only the state law minister to advise the State AG chambers to review this policy but also on the Advocates Association of Sarawak to play a proactive role in liaising and brainstorming with the law minister/SAG chambers to review legislations and policies which are placing a great burden on the people of Sarawak. Legislations and polices should be improved, instead of causing more burden to the people.