The Bar Council told to tell what exactly transpired during Bersih 3.0 (Picture by Hussein Shaharuddin for The Mole)
KUALA LUMPUR: A member of parliament who is also Malaysian Bar member has called on the council to stop acting like a political party.
Independent Wangsa Maju MP Wee Choo Keong said the council should uphold its independence and impartiality without fear or favour, and not be pandering to the whims and fancies of politicians.
“Section 42 of the Legal Profession Act 1976 clearly states that the purpose of the Malaysian Bar shall be to uphold the course of justice without regards to its own interests or that of its members, uninfluenced by fear or favour.
“The Bar Council should be brave enough to tell the public what really transpired on the Bersih 3.0 rally and be seen to be serving the interests of others. Stop hiding behind Bar Council’s name. If you cannot act independently, do not abuse the council’s name,” Wee told The Mole.
The veteran Malaysian Bar member also advised council’s president Lim Chee Wee to submit their interim report and claims of alleged police brutality to the police and Suhakam (Human Rights Body).
“I find it weird when the council conveniently leaves out the part on participants breaching the court order by breaking through the barricades. Is Bar Council now endorsing and encouraging people to breach court orders when they are supposed to be advocates of the Rule of Law ?” Wee questioned.
Wee believes the Bar Council’s EGM today was politically motivated to benefit certain quarters and not due to a genuine interest in addressing matters arising following the Bersih riots.
On May 1 the Bar Council published its interim report on the Bersih 3.0 rally that took place on April 28.
A lawyer Ranjit Singh Dhillon, disputed the interim report and questioned the Bar Council’s hasty decision on the rally.
Stating his rebuttal via a Youtube video which was then published in several blogs.
Ranjit said: “The haste in which the report was churned out, frankly speaking, I don’t know what the rush was for. This is an issue of national interest. We, as a professional body, should take time to coordinate with the relevant agencies and come out with a detailed report. Is the Bar Council a professional body or is it being hijacked by certain others?”
Another lawyer Faisal Moideen when contacted said he concurred with Ranjit, stressing that it is premature for the council to make public statements based on an unverified interim report.
“I think it is quite premature to rely on the interim report alone. Secondly, by making such statement the Bar Council itself is pre-empting other investigations from relevant bodies on this issue.”
“The interim report in itself is very much one-sided. You can’t specifically condemn the police for violence when in actual fact all forms of violence that happened that day need to be addressed,” he argued.
Faisal said it appears as though the Bar Council is sending a message to the society that it is okay for people to breach court order.
“Of course one can argue on why there was a court order against any gatherings in Dataran Merdeka in the first place but that is why lawyers need to get the matter heard and disputed legally, in court,” he added.
Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee in an email reply to The Mole stated: “The focus is on police brutality and misconduct (including denial of right of access by lawyers to client), not BN, not PR. It transcends politics and partisanship.”
Lim argued that the truth and facts are never pre-mature and the interim report was a measured report from the observations of the monitors.
“The EGM is for members to debate, and in doing so, understand what happened as observed by our monitoring team, and arrive at a conclusion on what it wants to do for the future.”
“The convened EGM is not inconsistent with what the Bar has done in the past, as shown by these two previous resolutions (in police action during Reformasi rallies in 1998 and the arrest of five Kuala Lumpur Legal Aid Centre lawyers in 2009),” Lim said.