Lawyers petition for EGM to debate attacks on judiciary

One hundred and seventy-five members have signed the request, and the EGM must be held within 30 days of its delivery to the Bar Council.

(FMT) – Some 175 lawyers have petitioned to convene an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of the Malaysian Bar to debate a motion condemning “scurrilous attacks” on the judiciary.

A source said the requisition to call for the EGM was submitted to the Bar Council two days ago.

“The number has exceeded the minimum set by the Legal Profession Act 1976 (LPA) for members to take the initiative to call for an EGM,” the source told FMT.

The motion was proposed and seconded by two senior members of the Bar, which has about 22,000 members, the source added.

FMT has reached out for a response from Bar president Karen Cheah.

The LPA offers two avenues for calling of an EGM.

Section 65(1) empowers the council to convene an EGM at any time it considers it necessary or expedient.

However, under Section 65(2), a minimum 150 members can also requisition an EGM, which must be held within 30 days of delivery of the request.

Section 65(4A) of the LPA prescribes that 500 members shall constitute the quorum at an EGM.

The judiciary has over the past year come under intense scrutiny for its handling of former prime minister Najib Razak’s SRC International appeal.

That has been intensified further by a letter sent by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) dated Feb 20 to Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.

In the letter, it said investigations which it carried out had concluded that trial judge Nazlan Ghazali, who convicted Najib, may have breached the judges’ code of ethics.

The investigation was triggered by allegations that unexplained sums of money had been deposited into Nazlan’s bank account.

Four days later, a seven-member Federal Court panel led by Tengku Maimun accused MACC of not following protocol when conducting its investigation into Nazlan.

In a judgment delivered in a case brought by three lawyers against MACC, Tengku Maimun said investigative agencies must consult the chief justice before initiating a probe against a superior court judge.

In a letter dated March 20, law and institutional reform minister Azalina Othman Said had, at the request of Najib’s solicitors, Shafee & Co, confirmed MACC’s finding about Nazlan.

In July 2020, Nazlan, then a High Court judge, had convicted Najib on charges of abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust over RM42 million in funds belonging to SRC International.

He sentenced Najib to 12 years’ jail and fined him RM210 million.

Najib’s appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed in December 2021.

On Aug 23, the Federal Court upheld the conviction and sentence.

Najib began serving his 12-year prison term immediately following the Federal Court decision.

On March 31, a separate Federal Court bench dismissed Najib’s application for a review of his conviction and sentence by a majority of 4-1. Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Rahman Sebli issued the sole dissenting opinion.