Why are some members of the Bar getting hot under the collar?

It appears paranoia has set in with unwarranted comments by groups with vested interests over perceived attacks on the judiciary.

From Walter Sandosham, Free Malaysia Today

Let’s cut to the chase. Justice is all about the truth and nothing but the truth. The basic tenet is that no one is above the law and all are treated equal.

It is not about the font size or margin clearance of documents submitted to the court or protocol which some subscribe to.

It appears that some members of the Malaysian Bar are getting “hot under the collar” for perceived attacks on the judiciary, citing “scurrilous attacks”.

Reports say that about 175 have petitioned for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of the Bar to be held to debate a motion on this.

This is as per provisions under Section 65 of the Legal Profession Act 1976, which goes on to prescribe that 500 members shall constitute the quorum at an EGM.

Have these same members not attended the recently convened AGM when the number present was pathetic, to say the least? Does one expect a more vibrant turnout at an EGM to debate just one motion? Wishful thinking, perhaps!

Have the natives been riled up by the comments of the Bar president on this perceived “attack” on the judiciary?

In essence, that institution should be robust enough to withstand differences in opinion on its actions in relation to any matters it deals with and may not need a helping hand.

From another viewpoint, this presumably is a follow-through on the chief justice’s (CJ) comments related to “timing”, “collateral” and “bona fide” when delivering a Federal Court judgment pursuant to a “point of law” brought up by some individuals.

Is it possible that this has ignited “flames of passion” in certain individuals and pressure groups on “interference”?

Now it appears to be a “free for all”, with biased and, in some cases, self-interest comments being brought up by all and sundry.

Is that what we want when we speak of institutions of governance upholding the law and protecting the legal interests of the man on the street?

Let’s cut down on the emotions and get to the crux of the issue. In this diarrhoea of comments, what is the real issue?

As a prominent lawyer (who coincidentally was on the right side of a Federal Court judgment pursuant to a suit he initiated against the Bar recently) has commented, an investigation has been done and the results forwarded to the CJ.

It is up to the CJ to consider if it should hit the waste bin or further appropriate action is needed.

No confusion there or “interference” from other branches. Nothing more, nothing less.

It is incongruous for some activists to drag the prime minister, attorney-general, Parliament, or the law and institutional reform minister into this potpourri of presumably “hurt” feelings.

‘Lack of expertise’

So why are we dragging our feet on this and whipping up fervour by wanting to have an EGM and unproductive forums?

The legitimacy of the investigation agency is not challenged, save for the perceived “lack of expertise” and/or not following “protocol”.

Ironically, it is also acknowledged that the judiciary does not have the “power” to summon witnesses or to examine bank records.

So, what are we talking about? It appears that we are missing the woods for the trees or is there a deep sinister plot to delegitimise the institutional framework of the country? Higher-order thinking will not be out of place here.

Let common sense prevail. One should move to address the crux of the issue. After all this is what justice is all about.

Or have the lawyers lost their bearings in arriving at the truth, focusing instead on bureaucracy and guarding the “fort from belligerent marauders”?

The law and institutional reform minister had merely confirmed a sequence of events involving the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the CJ and there are ludicrous comments being passed that this “should not have been discussed” in Parliament.

Doesn’t the rakyat have a right to know as disinformation is rife? The minister merely commented on the status as an issue of public interest, while not divulging the contents of a report.

Is this considered “interference”? It appears paranoia has set in with unwarranted comments being made by groups with vested interests.

The issue is not about a dissenting judgment, submissions to the Pardons Board, the prime minister’s role, the conduct of lawyers or whatever else that impinges on the fertile minds of conspiracy theorists.

The sooner this charade stops the better. The stakeholders are not doing themselves any favours by prolonging the issue.

It is time to lift the veil in the interest of transparency.

Walter Sandosham is a former MACC oversight panel member and an FMT reader.