Saturday, July 30, 2016

'Attack' on the Malaysian Bar and Freedom of Asociation? What the Malaysian government proposes to do in October 2016?

Well, this BN-UMNO government is once again targeting the Malaysian Bar, the organization whose membership are all the practicing lawyers in Peninsular Malaysia - yes, now about 17,000 strong... 

And, now the Malaysian government intends to arbitrarily amend the Legal Profession Act to affect changes on how persons will be elected into the Bar Council(which also include appointing 2 government representatives), term of office of the Bar Council(from the current 1 year to make it 2 years), quorum for General Meetings (from the present 500 to 4,000 plus?)...

This is a violation of lawyers' Freedom of 'attack' on the Independence of the Bar. The Malaysian Bar now makes and amends rules, only after members do approve it in a General Meeting - no support from the majority at the General Meetings - then even good proposals may have to be abandoned until the support of the majority can be obtained at a General Meeting...not the Bar Council(the elected Exco)...

This democratic stance of the Malaysian Bar will be something that this BN-UMNO government can understand - for them, after winning elections, it is then the BN-UMNO Exco/Cabinet that decides what to do - no going back to the people through REFERENDUMS, etc to get the support of the members. So very unlike how the democratic Malaysian Bar operates...      


Well, the Malaysian Bar is an INDEPENDENT  organisation , whose membership is all practicing lawyers in Peninsular Malaysia. The Bar is now still very much committed to 'upholding the cause of justice without fear or favour'  - and the Bar and Malaysian lawyers have been strongly shown to be committed - they bravely do come out when the government, the police, the Attorney General and others do things that are wrong, unjust and against human rights...

Malaysian Bar, unlike Opposition political parties, is MORE CREDIBLE...and their views and position are respected by the public. 

Opposition political parties can always be said to have a 'self-interest' agenda - they want to do better in next elections and maybe even win sufficient seats to form the next governments - but the Bar has no such 'agendas' or 'motives' - they are merely interested in Justice, Rule of Law and Human Rights...They are independent as they really survive with what monies their own members give them - no funding from government or any Opposition political parties. 


Insert TWO(2) government appointed lawyers as members of the Bar Council - why? To spy? What about letting 2 representative of the Bar Council be a member of the UMNO Supreme Council? If that happens, then they can speedily inform Malaysians if there is any hank panky.

The membership elects their own leadership and the members of the Exco... it is ABSURD that the Malaysian government wants to interfere in the Malaysian Bar in this manner.

Is the Executive Committee of the Malaysian Bar - the Bar Council democratically chosen by lawyers? YES

Bar Council - well, that is like the Executive Committee of the Bar, and members are all democratically elected by the membership...

12 members are elected by all 17,000 or more members by means of postal ballots...every practicing lawyer gets an opportunity to vote
2 members are elected by State Bars at their Annual General Meetings(AGM) - President and State Bar Rep.
Immediate past President is automatically in as member of the Bar Council...

Well, as you can see each and every State no matter the numbers in that State Bar are members of the Bar Council, duly elected in the Annual General Meeting of the respective State Bars. The president of the State Bar is a member, and the 2nd person is the elected Bar Council Representative of the State Bar

Now, the Malaysian government wants to increase this State Bar representation from 2 to 3 - WHY? Well, if members feel, it is time for a change and we need 3 or 4 or 5 members from each State Bar, they can simply table a motion, and it will be discussed, debated and voted on. For, the information of Malaysian's Attorney General and the UMNO-BN government, there has been no motion tabled at the Malaysian Bar AGM suggesting that representation be increased to 3 - Apandi Ali(our current AG), who was also in the Bar Council could have done it then when he was a member of the Bar - but he did not - Why?
Malaysian government wants get rid of the '12 members who are democratically elected by all 17,000 or more members by means of postal ballots...' - the voting in of these 12 members is by postal ballot. As such, these will be the most difficult way to get elected as a member of the Bar Council as you will need to get support of all members from Perlis to Kelantan to Johor ...and a lot of people do stand for election, and a lot of people vote...

When it comes to the postal ballot all necessary checks and balances are in place to ensure that there is no 'hanky panky'...and, if there is more needed, the members will insist it is put in place...

As mentioned earlier, the members of the Malaysian Bar are lawyers - and they will not allow any irregularities or wrongdoings in the electoral process go unnoticed - thus there is free and fair elections at the Malaysian Bar.

Look at Malaysia, to date the people of the various States  and Malaysia are still being denied the right to choose and vote in their Senators - This needs to change? Now, in essence the parties who win the Elections 'arbitrarily' pick who will be Senator - we need that right to be given back to the voters to choose who will be Senator?

The quorum requirement for general meetings (ie Annual General Meeting and any Extraordinary General Meeting) of the Malaysian Bar would be increased from 500 Members to 25% of the membership of the Malaysian Bar or 4,000 Members, whichever is less.Well, with such a large quorum requirement, it becomes nearly impossible to have an Annual General Meeting?

Immediate past-Vice President of the Malaysian Bar will not be able to contest to be President - Well, that is just not right. Just like saying that the DPM will NEVER be Prime Minister? 

Now, the government proposes that the President, Vice President, Secretary and the Treasurer be elected by the Annual General Meeting - at present, all the elected Bar Council members chose who will be President and Office Bearers. [Note, Malaysians never get a chance in choosing who will be Prime Minister - now the Prime Minister is chosen by the elected Members of Parliament]. Personally, I would not mind that the all members choose the Office Bearers, but certainly not just at the AGM - but through a voting process where all members can vote - the Postal Ballot? But, to date, there has been no motion tabled and passed that changes the way we choose our President and Exco... and really the AG and/or government should not interfere... 

Currently, members of Bar elect and choose their leaders every year - a ONE year term. It is certainly been good for democracy, accountability, transparency and efficiency. If you falter in your work, you will not be re-elected the following year. It has also resulted in speedy undelayed action - very efficient. So why now is the government wanting to make it a TWO-year term ... [We see how the 5 year term is affecting Malaysia - we want to get rid of current MPs and replace them with new ones, but we have to wait for 5 years?]. Malaysian lawyers are happy with this ONE-year term, so why again is the government interfering... 

Below, something about the proposed amendments from the Malaysian Bar Website

(1) Two Members of the Bar would be appointed — by the Minister in charge of legal affairs — as members of the Bar Council, for the purpose of representing the Government.  However, these two members would not be eligible to contest any position as Office Bearer of the Malaysian Bar (ie President, Vice-President, Secretary or Treasurer).

(2) The quorum requirement for general meetings (ie Annual General Meeting and any Extraordinary General Meeting) of the Malaysian Bar would be increased from 500 Members to 25% of the membership of the Malaysian Bar or 4,000 Members, whichever is less.  There are currently just under 17,000 Members of the Bar.

The quorum requirement for general meetings of each State Bar would also be increased, from 5% to 25% of its membership.

(3) The number of members of the Bar Council would be increased from the current 38 members, to 40 members.

(4) Annual election of Bar Council

(a) The annual election by postal ballot — currently for 12 members of the Bar Council — by Members of the Malaysian Bar would be abolished.  

(b) Instead, the election would be conducted at the State Bar level once every two years.

Three members from each State Bar — the Chairmen of the State Bar Committees, and two State Bar Representatives — would be elected directly to the Bar Council by secret ballot at the State Bar’s Annual General Meeting.  One of the State Bar Representatives must be a member with more than 10 years in practice, and the other must have less than 10 years in practice.  As there are 12 State Bars, this process would result in the election of 12 State Bar Committee Chairmen and 24 State Bar Representatives as members of the Bar Council, totalling 36 members.   

The remaining four members of the Bar Council would consist of the immediate past President and immediate past Vice-President of the Bar, and the two Members of the Bar appointed by the Minister in charge of legal affairs to represent the Government.

(5) Election of Officer Bearers

(a) The annual election of the Officer Bearers of the Malaysian Bar — conducted by secret ballot at the first Bar Council meeting of each term, held at the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting of the Bar — by members of the Bar Council would be abolished. 

(b) Instead, the Office Bearers would be elected directly by Members of the Bar, at the Annual General Meeting of the Bar or at the premises of the State Bar Committees.  

Only the 24 members elected as State Bar Representatives at the annual general meetings of the State Bars are eligible to be elected as Office Bearers.  The immediate past President, immediate past Vice-President, and 12 Chairmen of the State Bar Committees are expressly precluded from contesting any Office Bearer position.

(6) The Office Bearers of the Bar and the members of the Bar Council would serve for a fixed term of two years, instead of the current one-year term.

(7) The Minister in charge of legal affairs would be empowered to make rules and regulations in respect of the conduct of the elections to the Bar Council and of the Office Bearers of the Bar.


1 comment:

hakimi abdul jabar said...

Very good post by Charles Hector.

Remarkably, I've this opinion that the Bar Council & Malaysian Bar should look into this position of the Law Society of British Columbia, Canada pertaining to non-practising members :

Non-practising lawyers retain the same rights as practising members, except the right to practise law or to act as notaries public or Commissioners for taking affidavits. Non-practising members are entitled to:run for election as Benchers;vote in Bencher elections and general meetings of the Law Society; andreceive Law Society publications.You must be in good standing with the Law Society to become a non-practising member.

It broadens the scope.


Hakimi Abdul Jabar