Call EGM if you have the numbers, Bar Council member tells critics

Syahredzan Johan

(Malay Mail Online) – The lawyers targeting Malaysian Bar president Christopher Leong for criticising the sodomy prosecution of Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim should seek an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) if they have the support that they claim, a Bar Council member said today.

Syahredzan Johan pointed out that under the Legal Profession Act 1976, just 150 members of the Malaysian Bar are needed to requisition an EGM, in response to the demand by about 100 lawyers yesterday that Leong retract his statement on Anwar’s case or resign.

“I doubt the claim that the ‘majority’ of Malaysian Bar members feel that the president has overstepped his jurisdiction or that the Bar Council has lost credibility in the eyes of members as, if this were truly the case, an EGM could easily have been held and a motion passed to censure the president or the Bar Council,” Syahredzan told Malay Mail Online.

There are about 16,000 members of the Malaysian Bar, a professional body representing lawyers in peninsular Malaysia.

The group of about 100 lawyers accused Leong yesterday of impugning the judiciary with his February 11 statement that highlighted “glaring anomalies” in the prosecution of the federal opposition leader, which he said fuelled the perception that Anwar’s case was political persecution rather than a criminal prosecution.

They gave the Bar Council chief 14 days to issue an apology and to retract his statement, failing which they would push for his resignation.

Leong’s term as Malaysian Bar president, however, is due to end next month with the Bar’s annual general meeting (AGM) set for March 14, as he has served the maximum of two consecutive years since his election in 2013.

Former Malaysia Airlines chief executive Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman, also a member of the Malaysian Bar, said Leong should not have released a statement on behalf of the Malaysian Bar without seeking the consensus of its members.

Former Bar Council chief Lim Chee Wee, however, rubbished Aziz’s claim that the Malaysian Bar president must consult members before issuing press statements.

“That has never been how it works,” Lim told Malay Mail Online.

“Members elect BC members who in turn elect office-bearers, including the president. (The) president then has the mandate to issue statements. If he is wrong, BC can censure or correct him and members can do so at the AGM or EGM,” the ex-Bar Council chief added, using the initials for the Bar Council.

Leong said yesterday that members of the Bar who took issue with his position on Anwar’s sodomy prosecution were free to register their disapproval during the AGM.

The Federal Court upheld on February 10 the Court of Appeal’s 2014 ruling that had reversed Anwar’s acquittal of sodomising former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan 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.