0R -SOSMA is a law that provides for ‘special measures relating to security offences for the purpose of maintaining public order and security and for connected matters’. There are ‘special measures’ from the point of arrest until the end of trial, which do undermine the rights of the suspect and/or accused, including the right to a fair trial.
When SOSMA is used, the police no longer need to get a Magistrate’s order for the purposes of remanding a suspect for more than 24 hours. All that is required by SOSMA for detention beyond 24 hours is that ‘a police officer of or above the rank of Superintendent of Police…’ to ‘…extend the period of detention for a period of not more than twenty-eight days, for the purpose of investigation’. As such, the necessary check and balance provided- MADPET Calls For Repeal Of SOSMA, And Offences Criminalizing Activities ‘Detrimental To Parliamentary Democracy’,
‘No rest for the Bar, until lawyers can act freely’
The Malaysian Bar will not rest as long as its independence is under threat, said its president Steven Thiru.
He was speaking outside their office in Kuala Lumpur last night, at a candlelight vigil attended by some 60 people.
"So long as our independence is at threat, we will not rest.
"We will take this fight to them, and we intend to win this fight.
"We will win this fight for a Malaysia governed by the rule of law and never by the rule by law," Thiru said in his closing speech at the end of the two-and-a-half hour vigil.
The independence of the Bar is a sacred principle, he added, which is recognised in any democracy.
"It is a historic, ancient principle to which there are no exceptions," he said.
'Lawyers may as well close shop'
The vigil was called following lawyer Matthias Chang's arrest under Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma).
Chang had accompanied his client Khairuddin Abu Hassan, who had also been arrested under Sosma,
to lodge complaints against 1MDB overseas.
Thiru stressed the authorities cannot
intimidate and harass lawyers acting for their clients.
"If they do that, then we do not have rule of law. We might as well just close shop and call this the rule by law.
"We (the Bar) will stand up for any lawyer who is acting for their client, when the independence of the Bar and the lawyer to act for their client is at risk.
"That is a guarantee that the Bar Council will give you. We will be there with you," he said.
The vigil, which started at 7.30pm, saw only a handful of people at first, but the crowd grew steadily after 8pm.
Stop intimidation of lawyers
Candles and bottles of drinking water were handed out to those who were there.
Banners which read 'Respect the independence of the Bar' and 'Malaysian Bar without fear or favour' were unfurled and hung up.
Quite a number of people were holding up signs and placards, among which said 'Lawyering is not a crime', 'Release Matthias Chang', 'Sosma is ISA-lite' and 'Stop misuse of Sosma'.
The LED signboard on the side of the building had even been changed to say ‘Respect independence of the Bar, the Bar condemns intimidation of lawyers acting for clients…’
There was a light drizzle for a short while during the vigil, though no one was bothered by it.
The participants, which also included PKR vice-president Tian Chua and former Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan, seemed to be in good spirits throughout, chatting among themselves while holding lit candles.
Several cars passing by throughout the night also sounded their horns with the drivers showing a thumbs up for support.
Towards the end of the vigil, Thiru delivered his closing speech, after which the crowd gathered their things before dispersing.
The Malaysian Bar had a candlelight vigil to reaffirm the independence of the Bar, on 10 October 2015 (Saturday), from 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm in front of the Bar Council, 15 Leboh Pasar Besar, 50050 Kuala Lumpur
|Friday, 09 October 2015 08:31pm|
The Malaysian Bar is outraged over the detention of Matthias Chang — a Member of the Malaysian Bar and one of the lawyers representing Dato’ Sri Khairuddin Abu Hassan (“Dato’ Sri Khairuddin”), a politician and vocal critic of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (“1MDB”) — under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (“SOSMA”). The detention is reportedly for investigations into allegations of having committed offences under Sections 124K (sabotage) and Section 124L (attempt to commit sabotage), both under the Penal Code.
Matthias Chang was arrested by the police yesterday after visiting his client, who is currently being detained at the Dang Wangi District Police Station. It has been reported that Matthias Chang is now to be detained for up to 28 days.
It had been earlier reported that Matthias Chang and his client had both been barred from travelling outside Malaysia on 18 September 2015, and that they were about to travel to New York for the purpose of meeting with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in relation to allegations of financial impropriety concerning 1MDB. Subsequently, Matthias Chang was questioned by the police on 28 September 2015 and 2 October 2015, as a witness in respect of the allegations levelled against his client.
It is inexplicable that the police have now detained Matthias Chang under SOSMA, as he has been cooperative in presenting himself for questioning by the police thus far. His arrest is an absolute misuse of the power of arrest and detention under Section 4 of SOSMA.
The Malaysian Bar expressed reservations over the use of SOSMA on Dato’ Sri Khairuddin in our press release dated 2 October 2015. These same concerns apply to Matthias Chang. SOSMA was legislated to address terrorism threats and violent conduct. SOSMA must not be misused as a replacement for the repealed Internal Security Act 1960 (“ISA”). The manner in which the police have resorted to SOSMA against Dato’ Sri Khairuddin and Matthias Chang is disquieting, as it appears that SOSMA is becoming the new ISA.
The Malaysian Bar denounces the intimidation, harassment, arrest or detention of any Member of the Malaysian Bar in the discharge of his or her duties or obligations for and on behalf of any client. Every Member of the Malaysian Bar is obliged to, and must be allowed to, act without fear or favour in the client’s interest, with due regard to the rule of law and the administration of justice.
The Chief Justice of Malaysia, The Right Honourable Tun Arifin Zakaria, has observed that “… the lawyer does not merely carry out the duties he is professionally trained for, but assumes a special role in safeguarding the sanctity of the legal system and more importantly to uphold the rule of law.”
It is also important to note that Articles 16 and 18 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in 1990, state that:
The Malaysian Bar further condemns any attempt to transgress or erode the principle of legal professional privilege or solicitor-client privilege, in the guise of a purported investigation of a lawyer. The rationale underpinning the principle of legal professional privilege is that:
The principle of legal professional privilege must remain inviolate and absolute, as it protects all information provided by a client to the lawyer for the purposes of legal advice or representation, whereby the information cannot be divulged by the lawyer to anyone, unless the client waives the privilege. This principle is codified in Section 126 of the Evidence Act 1950, with two limited exceptions that render the privilege inapplicable, namely, where there is “(a) any such communication made in furtherance of any illegal purpose; (b) any fact observed by any advocate in the course of his employment as such showing that any crime or fraud has been committed since the commencement of his employment”.
The police must scrupulously adhere to this salutary principle — well-entrenched in both statute and common law — of legal professional privilege, and must not seek to obtain from Matthias Chang any information given to him by his client, Dato’ Sri Khairuddin, by ignoring or breaching this long-standing principle. Any interference with the principle is wholly abhorrent, and obverse to the administration of justice.
The Malaysian Bar demands that the police recognise and respect the role and responsibilities of Matthias Chang as a lawyer, release him immediately, and refrain from any action that is likely to harass, impede or obstruct him from performing his duties to his client.
9 October 2015
The Malaysian Bar denounces the intimidation, harassment, arrest or detention of any Member of the Malaysian Bar in the discharge of his or her duties or obligations for and on behalf of any client.
The Malaysian Bar will hold a candlelight vigil to reaffirm the independence of the Bar, as follows:
Malaysia Blocks Critic of Prime Minister From Taking Case to U.S.
”, New York Times, 18 September 2015
 Press release by the Malaysian Bar entitled “SOSMA Must Not be Misused to Silence Critics of 1MDB”, 2 October 2015