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Bar Council calling the kettle, “Black”

In History, Malaysia on September 17, 2008 at 7:08 pm

(from the department of: status-quo-is-in-my-interest,-change-is-bad)

Our wonderful SOLICITORS AND ADVOCATES, theBar Council of Malaysia‘, has a tendency to pussyfoot with what really matters. Sure, Extra Ordinary General Meeting (EGM) will get everyone worked up, file for habeas corpus, comment on use of ‘unfairness‘ of ISA . They also released a report recently – see my earlier post, “Malaysians still blinking like Magoo“. I can fill this post with 1000 ‘things’ – a statement / report / discussion by the Bar Council.

I wonder where the real lawyers are, certainly not at our superactive Bar Council. The ones we have at the moment goes thru’ the motion creating nice fireworks, but absolutely ineffectual to the bottom-line: protecting rights of Malaysians. They can act indignant but avoid raising real issues, then go home. No wonder Malaysia has one of the worst income-inequality in Asia.

Fellow Malaysians, especially non-lawyers, you guys have been bamboozled all these years by the Bar Council of Malaysia.


LOOK AT FACTS Look at this report: “Mortgaging freedom for security: Arbitrary detention of five HINDRAF leaders (May 2008) by The Observatory (FIDH-OMCT) , download it here. Then look at the Bar Council’s press release of the report – “Observatory Report : ISA is a violation of human rights principle“. This report by the Observatory was written by one lawyer- Ms Berg; in page 9 she wrote:

On the whole, and especially since September 11, Malaysians seem to have been more willing to give the Government the benefit of the doubt. Indeed, the state Human Rights Commission, SUHAKAM, published a critique of the ISA, calling for its repeal, while at the same time recommending the enactment of new anti-terrorism legislation, referencing similar laws passed in a number of countries in the final months of 2001, all of which raise grave human rights concerns.

The following passage from the report (SUHAKAM, Review of the Internal Security Act 1960, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, 2003, p 6-7) aptly summarises the Commission’s muted approach to human rights protection:

National security laws, before September 11, 2001, were heavily criticised generally as draconian because they were seen to unduly restrict the civil liberties of a person detained under such laws. However, many liberals of yesteryears, including those in Malaysia, now appear to acknowledge national security legislation as a possible tool to counter terrorism and as such an acceptable limitation on the freedom of an individual for the sake of national interest.

Ms Berg, a practising lawyer from Australia, after mere 5 days in Malaysia, openly criticised Malaysia’s Human Rights Commission in the paragraph above. Her footnote to that paragraph said:

For example, SUHAKAM recommends legislative reform which would allow for 29 days of detention without charge.

If one lawyer – from Australia, not Malaysia, with a week’s worth of observation and discussion – can criticise our Human Rights Commission for failing to stand by its role (i.e. protect human rights in Malaysia), you would expect Malaysia’s Bar Council to either: (i) agree and followup with Malaysia’s Human Rights Commission on this point, or (ii) disagree and provide reasons why the Observatory and Ms Berg is wrong. Do you know what the ‘lawyer-statesmen’ of Malaysia did? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Sure, they released the report (see above) but if you read the release SUHAKAM was not mentioned at all. In Malaysian Bar Council’s press release “human rights” was mentioned 12 times. But not once, NOT ONCE, did they refer to The Observatory’s criticism of our Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM). On some level, I realise Malaysian’s aversion to direct challenges with authorities – by averting their gaze, fawning, kow-towing .. you name it, we’ve done it. But our freedom fighters, our Bar Council, dancing around the criticism of our Human Rights Commission is just ridiculous. Why the pussyfooting? Why be an advocate? At the Bar Council’s website, I read of a complaint or two from partners at Malaysian legal firms bemoaning their clients do not respect them. Poor sods. I do sympathise. But I’m sure you guys know why. What happened to the tradition of statesmanship? You were once Counsels. You had prudence, judgement and wisdom. What happened? ≈≈≈ LOOK AT ANOTHER FACT

On 15th Sep 2008, The “AIM (Abolish ISA Movement)” issued a challenge to SUHAKAM to stop using ISA, and abolish the law.

There were 23 organisations, including Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) and Youth For Change (Y4C), who endorsed it and challenged SUHAKAM. Again, I do not see the Bar Council of Malaysia anywhere near this document.

Nice going guys! Are you comfy yet?


To Members of Bar Council of Malaysia:

May I recommend ‘The Lost Lawyer‘ by Prof Kronman, one time Dean of Yale Law School.

It’s good chicken soup. And hopefully you don’t need another 20 years to find your way back.

  1. Criticisms are good… when it is constructive. Btw… mind informing the readers of your contribution, apart from your writings, eg in abolishing the ISA?

  2. Bad comments would be deleted by the moderator….hmmm… highly arbitrary… akin to how the ISA is used….

  3. My contribution? You, asking questions.
    Akin to ISA? The last time I checked I was not running a country.

    Am I am an elected representative? Do I represent my readers? If I disallow your comments, what choice do you have? Will you be silent? Can you opine somewhere else perhaps? Comment on another blog, create your own blog, write an article, write to the newspapers? In addition, you will of course ignore this blog altogether.

    If citizens cannot comment on the performance of their elected representatives? What choice do they have? If kept behind walls, publish via telepathy? Can citizens ignore their government and do as they wish – not pay taxes, defy the law, not use public services like phone, water, electricity, roads, etc?

    Can you see the difference?

    More questions?

  4. Still trying…

  5. I guess those involved in NGOs, or the Bar Council bears the responsibility of ensuring that the country is run smoothly.

    All others merely have to keep writing from behind a screen about what the others should be doing and criticising and labeling what they have done as useless, waste of time etc, without even offering solutions, practical or otherwise.

    It really doesn’t matter that you have not checked your facts to find out if other have also done other things and continue to do other things as well.

    And this is simply because… I am not running the country… sigh…

    Why things change in the country… is simply due to the pressure exerted by those who write from behind screens and in no way attributable to what the other have done…

    I simply love the internet… given time I guess one would also be able to run the country… from behind the screens.

    I better get away from this screen… I may end up running the country.

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