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Friday, March 26, 2004

Accountability & Transparency Resolution - 2004

The 59th AGM of the Malaysian Bar – 2004

WHEREAS:-

I. The Bar Council and the State Bar Committees are elected by members of the Malaysian Bar, and as such must at all times be transparent and accountable to its members.

2. There has been concerns that some of our leaders in the Bar Council and/or the State Bar Committees have not been promptly responding to queries, questions, clarifications, comments and/or criticisms from its members, and at times have totally failed to respond at all. These actions/omissions goes against the principle of transparency and accountability.

3. There have been concerns that some of the leaders of the Bar, the Bar Council, State Bar Committees and/or other committees of the Bar have in the past resorted to censorship, indifference, silence, threats of legal actions, letter of demands and/or other means suppress the freedom of expression and opinion and the right to information. The evading of the duty to answer questions, queries and/or criticisms made by members is contrary to the principle of transparency and/or accountability. These acts and/or omissions which may lead to the silencing of dissent is unacceptable.

4. There have been some leaders of the Bar in the past who seem to have wrongly taken the position that they only need to answer explain and/or respond to queries, questions and/or criticisms raised by members at General Meetings only.

5. There have been some leaders of the Bar who wrongly believe that after being elected they have the unquestionable right and/or the mandate to do anything and everything during their term of office, including expending large sum of monies on new matters, and that there is no obligation/duty to go back to the general membership for their approval in a general meeting before the large sums of memberships’ money is expended..

THEREFORE, it is hereby resolved that:-

A. The Malaysian Bar should strive to be the model of democracy, ensuring always that the principle of transparency and accountability is in the forefront of its own organization at all levels.

B. That the leaders of the Bar should at all times actively and positively be responsive to its membership, and must strive to ensure that freedom of expression and opinion is at all times not only respected but also practiced within the Bar at all levels.

C. The Malaysian Bar deplores any or all past acts/omissions of leaders of the Bar and/or its Committees that have caused or have attempted to cause the stifling or silencing of dissent, criticisms and opinions of members of Bar.

Proposer:- Charles Hector

Seconder:- Amin Hafiz

Saturday, March 20, 2004

MALAYSIANS: HANG JEBAT OR HANG TUAH?

For a long time, Malaysians were like the legendary “Hang Tuah” – having a blind and undivided loyalty to the government of the day no matter what. Their rights could be trampled on, their share of the wealth of the nation stolen and they could be visited by injustice but still out of blind loyalty, the will elect the BN government in yesterday, today and forever.

But of late, in the last 10 years or so there is an emergence of the “Jebats” in Malaysia – whereby blind loyalty is done away and in its place protest sets in if the ruling government of the day does injustice and/or violate rights not only of themselves personally but of their fellow Malaysians.

Hang Jebat ‘rebelled’ against the Sultan because he was displeased and angry with the injustice done by the Sultan against Hang Tuah, his friend. Hang Tuah was wrongly condemned and punished by the Sultan for something he was not guilty of. But when Hang Jebat rebelled against the Sultan, he summoned Han Tuah back to deal with the so-called rebel. The blindly loyal Hang Tuah, followed the orders of his Sultan and dealt with Hang Jebat, killing him – despite knowing the reason for Hang Jebat’s rebellion. This story of old was once propagated and Hang Tuah was exemplified as the good citizen, but recent literary critics see it in a totally different light, and the once ‘villainous’ Hang Jebat is now seen in some literary circles as being the real hero – a person, who without fear or favour stood firm against an injustice done, irrespective of the risk that death may be consequence of his actions.

The question now, which will be seen in the coming General Elections is whether the Malaysian voter is akin to the legendary Hang Tuah, or Hang Jebat. The results will give us the answer to this question come Sunday (22/3/2004).

Charles Hector
Petaling Jaya