Bar has lost its integrity, say lawyers

(The Star) – Several senior lawyers are questioning the integrity and independence of the Bar Council over its stand on the Bersih 3.0 rally.

Roger Tan from the Johor Bar said the council should have condemned the law breakers at the Malaysian Bar’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM) last Friday.

“We should condemn those who broke the law because we also must be seen to be upholding the rule of law,” he said.

At the EGM, an overwhelming majority of the 1,270 members present voted to pass resolutions condemning alleged police brutality at last month’s rally, as well as urging the Government to publicly apologise.

Tan said he had informed the EGM not to prejudge the issue as Suhakam’s inquiry had not concluded.

“Like when V.K. Lingam’s tape came out, we had a march to Putrajaya. We had also wanted to call for an EGM but decided to postpone it until the Royal Commission of Inquiry concluded its findings.

“So, there was precedence,” he said of the infamous video recording of a senior lawyer saying he could influence the appointment of senior judges.

“While it may warm the cockles of many hearts by taking the populist move to condemn police brutality, we must never fail to pay attention to the independence of the Bar,” he said, adding that the council should also act without fear or favour from even its own members.

Tan also hit out at members who had publicly censured the council, yet did not turn up for the EGM.

“Even if you don’t like resolutions, you must come and vote. There are probably 1,000 lawyers who are members of Barisan Nasional component parties.

“Where were they?” he asked.

Another senior lawyer was more hard-hitting in his comments and called for council members to resign.

“Bar Council has been infested’ with political opportunists. It has lost its true struggles to safeguard the welfare and interests of its members,” said Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun, who is also Umno legal adviser.

“I call on all Bar Council members to resign because of their failure to do as what is prescribed in the Legal Profession Act.”