Dr M backs second Bar idea

The former premier believes that the current Bar should be a political party and another should be set up to represent lawyers. 

(Free Malaysia Today) – Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today chided the Bar Council for practicing partisan politics and backed the move to set up a second bar.

The influential Umno veteran said the Bar’s impartiality was questionable, saying it was now more of a “political party” for its continuous attack on the government when it should focus on aspects of the legal profession.

“A professional organisation should concentrate more on the profession but it is quite obvious that the Bar Council has become a political party,” he told reporters here.

“When it has something to do with law, then you should comment but when you go about campaigning for political parties, then you should become a political party,” he added.

He said the only viable solution to this was to set up a new Bar which would focus on the profession, adding that any other lawyers disinterested in the partisan politics of the current council could leave and join the new one.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz on Saturday said the Cabinet and the attorney-general would soon study the idea of an alternative body such as a law academy be formed to represent the interests, welfare and profession of lawyers.

The idea came after many lawyers expressed disappointment in the council’s leadership under Lim Chee Wee at the Bar’s extraordinary general meeting last Saturday.

The meeting was critical of Putrajaya’s handling of the April 28 polls reform rally but many lawyers felt that this reflected partisanship of Lim’s presidency.

Although they were dissatisfied with Lim’s tenure, many said they had no other choice but to be members of the Malaysian Bar. Similar accusation of bias against the Bar Council leadership had been leveled against them in the past.

Nazri had pointed out that those who voted in support of the pro-Bersih 3.0 motion during last week’s EGM were not representative of the over 14,000-members of the Malaysian Bar.