Lawyers tell Bar Council chief apologise or quit over Anwar case remarks


(Malay Mail Online) – A group of 100 or so lawyers today demanded Bar Council president Christopher Leong retract a statement critical of the prosecution of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for sodomy or resign if he is unwilling to do so.

They claimed Leong had impugned the Malaysian judiciary with a statement that highlighted “glaring anomalies” in the prosecution of the federal opposition leader, which he said fuelled perception that Anwar’s case was political persecution rather than a criminal prosecution.

“This is a direct attack on the Federal Court without any legal basis with the effect of bringing the Federal Court to disrepute and odium,” Datuk Mohd Noor Amin, a member of the Malaysian Bar, said at a press conference here today.

“Number one, we want him to stop unwarranted attacks onto the judiciary. Number two, apologise to the judiciary that he so blatantly smeared. And three, retract the statement,” he added.

The group also attacked Leong for questioning why Anwar’s accuser, former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, was not charged despite the prosecution of the opposition leader for consensual anal sex.

Instead, they argued that Section 377A and 377B of the Penal Code specifically outlawed the act of inserting one’s penis into another person’s anus, and not homosexuality per se.

Former Malaysia Airlines chief executive Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman, also a member of the Malaysian Bar, insisted that the group of 100 lawyers did not share Leong’s views.

He added that the Bar Council president should not have released a statement on behalf of the Malaysian Bar without seeking the consensus of its members.

“What we want to stress today is that we don’t agree with what is said by [the president of the Bar Council],” Aziz said.

“He made that statement as representing the Bar Council. We are all practitioners and we are also members of the Bar, if you want to make a statement on behalf of Bar Council, we ask that he get all our approvals first,” he added.

The group then gave Leong 14 days to issue the apology and retract his statement, after which they will begin pushing for his resignation should he not comply.

They added that they will also urge the Attorney-General to seek contempt proceedings against Leong if he refuses to do either.

Aziz said that more lawyers are expected to back the initiative calling for Leong’s apology or resignation, judging by how they were able to secure the support of 100 people in two days.

Last week, the Federal Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s 2014 ruling that had reversed Anwar’s acquittal of sodomising Mohd Saiful, and sentenced the Permatang Pauh lawmaker to five years’ jail.

Anwar will be disqualified as MP and federal opposition leader on Tuesday unless he files a petition seeking a royal pardon.