Scrutinising the Bar Council.
KUALA LUMPUR: A Bar Council member Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz has urged the Government to amend Section 43 of the Legal Profession Act 1976 to allow lawyers the option of not becoming a member automatically.
Expressing his frustration, Khairul Azam pointed out that at the Council's recent Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) did not reflect the support of all members.
"There are more than 14,000 members in the whole country, but the total who came to EGM was only 1,270, including chambering students. So the support received by the Bar Council is questionable.
According to the Act, Section 43 stipulates that every advocate and solicitor shall without election, admission or appointment, become a member of the Malaysian Bar and shall remain a member under this section so long as he has a valid practising certificate.
"Bar Council should not think everything its been doing is endorsed by members. During the recent EGM, I was booed by others just because my opinions were different than theirs," he said to The Mole.
Khairul Azam was one of 16 members who were against Bar Council's motion during the EGM while 939 voted in favour of it.
Commenting on a proposal to set up an alternative legal body as mooted by Minister in the Prime Minister's department Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Aziz earlier, Khairul Azam said, it is pointless if the new body could not be given the same power as Bar Council.
"However. this new body could be a better alternative to take care of lawyers' welfare, providing legal views to the government, creating awareness to the society and most importantly, being absolutely impartial, which the Bar Council had failed to be," he said.
In a news report by Bernama, Mohd Nazri announced that the proposal to set up a new law academy will be discussed by the Cabinet and Attorney-General's chambers soon.
He was quoted as saying that it is the time for a new organisation, other than the Bar Council, be formed to represent those who studied law.
The idea was mooted by one of the 16 members who opposed the motion, Abu Backer Sidek, as he claimed that the existing Bar Council had failed to defend itself as a professional body with integrity.
In the last EGM, a few members of the Bar Council had stood up to express their frustration over the biased 12 motions proposed by the Council which were mainly focussed on highlighting police brutality during Bersih rally.
Some of the members questioned why the Bar Council did not take a wider view, including into the aspect of who had sparked the riot, the instances when the police was harshly provoked and attacked as well as providing legal assistance to everyone involved.
A few days before the EGM, a lawyer Ranjit Singh Dhillon, was on YouTube, questioning the council's integrity for rushing the interim report. Ranjiit even said: “There are bad apples in the Bar Council”.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Ismail Omar, as reported in the New Straits Times, had urged the Bar Council to be more transparent in making its conclusions regarding what occurred during the Bersih rally.
Ismail said the Bar Council was prejudiced and had "punished" the police force without even meeting them first.