Bar Council: Introduce laws to curb hate crimes

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Bar Council president Christopher Leong says that the government should come up with ways to foster unity, instead of forcing it on people via legislation.

P Ramani, FMT

Establish laws to curb hate crimes rather than introducing legislation to force harmony on people, said Bar Council president Christopher Leong today.

Speaking after officiating the 68th Bar Council Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Kuala Lumpur, Leong said that it was not right to force someone to love another via legislation.

“Rather than forcing harmony in this country, we should find ways to foster harmony. One of the ways is to inculcate the values of harmony among the public.

“If we come out with a law to force harmony, it will not be everlasting and will defeat the purpose to foster unity,” said Leong, who was retained as the Bar president till 2015.

On March 6, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri said that the government would not be tabling the proposed National Harmony Bill at this Parliament sitting.

The law minister said that the drafting process is taking time and the government is in consultation with relevant stakeholders on the matter, including the Bar.

Leong said that he had met Nancy on March 6 and conveyed in his opinion in regards to the draft bill.

In July 2010, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced that the government would repeal Sedition Act 1948 and replace it with the National Harmony Act, under the Government’s Transformation Plan.

Najib said the new law will safeguard the right to freedom of speech while protecting national unity by preventing incitement of religious or ethnic hatred.

Earlier today,  1,219 Bar members passed  four resolutions at the AGM, which are:

  • Not to recognise the amendments made to the Prevention of Crime (Amendment and Extension) Act 2013 and urging the government to establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to address the standards of policing and restore public confidence in the force.
  •  Call upon the government to enforce environmental laws more strictly and to undertake urgent reform to the legislation, with proper consultation with stakeholders.
  • Urging the government to amend the Legal Profession Act 1976 to prohibit or restrict retired superior court judges from appearing as counsel for cases.
  • Urging the government to ensure that all employers, especially government linked companies (GLC), to respect workers and trade union rights.
  • Initially, eight resolutions were tabled during the AGM but only four were passed. Two others were defeated and the rest was not discussed to time constraints.