The Right Honourable Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak – Justice David Dak Wah Wong
Degree: BCom UNSW 1976 LLB UNSW 1977
David received his primary education in then North Borneo/ Sabah till 1965 and in 1966, at the age of 11 years old, came to Australia to do his secondary education in St John’s College, Woodlawn, Lismore, NSW till 1971. Then in 1972 he read law at University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. He also obtained a B.Com (majoring in accountancy) from the same university. From 1978 to 1979 he was attached to a Public Accounting Firm in Sydney as a qualified auditor. In 1979 he was admitted as a barrister of the New South Wales Supreme Court in Australia. In 1980, he was admitted to the Sabah Bar and he practiced as an advocate and solicitor in Sabah until 1992. In 1992, he practiced as a solicitor in Sydney until 1996. In 1997 he returned to Sabah and practiced as an advocate and solicitor until 2005.
David was appointed a Judicial Commissioner of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak in Kuching on 29.8.2005 and elevated as a Judge of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak with effect from 11.4.2007. On 15.1.2009 he was transferred to the High Court of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah until his elevation to the Court of Appeal Malaysia on 8.1.2013. On 27.4.2018, he was elevated to the Federal Court (apex court of Malaysia) and on 11.7.2018, he was appointed as the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak and still holds that office.
As the Chief Judge, David continues to ensure that “access to justice” is available to the indigenous peoples in Sabah and Sarawak through what is known as the “Mobile Court” project. The judiciary of the Borneo States have three mobile Court buses where the interior of the bus is converted into a Court and they are used to travel into areas which are not easily accessible by public transport. Under this program, the Judges and legal officers travel into the interiors to spend time with the indigenous people to learn their custom and culture. Inquiries are also conducted to ensure that the indigenous people obtain their valid birth certificates which would enable them to enjoy all the rights and privileges of their urban brothers and sisters.
David still commutes between Kuala Lumpur and Sydney and had attended the 40th Anniversary celebration of the UNSW Law school in 2018. He is an avid sports fan and continues to follow his favourite football team – St George and the NSW team during the interstate weeks.
I have no doubt that my legal foundation derived from UNSW Law and its lecturers played and continues to play a substantial and crucial part in my career. At UNSW Law, we were always challenged as to how the law could or should be to meet the end of justice. I find that approach very helpful in my judicial career.”