Thursday, 17 May 2012

Umno, the Bar Council and impartiality — The Malaysian Insider

MAY 17 - Is the Bar Council partial? Yes it is. It is partial to the small man; it is partial to the rule of law.

But it comes as no surprise Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin declared today that Bar Council leaders have created a perception problem for the Bar, adding that the onus is on them to prove their impartiality amid some calls for another Malaysian Bar.

“The question (of forming an alternative) arose because of the behaviour of the Bar Council,” he said at a press conference today.

“I don’t think all the members of the Bar agree (to the recent EGM resolutions). The silent majority may not agree,” he said, referring to the outcome of last week’s EGM where 939 lawyers voted in favour of a pro-Bersih motion and 16 against.

Here's the thing, there is a law, called the Legal Profession Act 1976 that governs the Malaysian Bar. If we follow the logic displayed and argued by Umno leaders, one can always set up an alternative if dissatisfied with the status quo.

And Umno is unhappy with the Malaysian Bar because they keep standing up and telling off the government of the day about the law, human rights and civil liberties. These are things that get's Umno's goat.

It would appear that the only body with a slanted perception towards the Bar Council is Umno and that is because the political party seems to have a disdain for human rights and civil liberties.

Add the fact that this is a political party full of rent-seekers from top to bottom, where the law can be bent to make their contracts appear legitimate.

So, these complaints about the Malaysian Bar have to be seen in that light. Muhyiddin and his ilk have issues with those who do not quake or bend to authority, those who have no fear of speaking their mind even if it is the government of the day.

Muhyiddin must understand that the Malaysian Bar is made up of professionals who due to the nature of their work, must uphold principles for themselves and for their fellow citizens. What is wrong is wrong no matter how much the authorities want to show that what they did is within the law.

For example, the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012. The law was opposed by the lawyers but approved anyway. It was then implemented days before Bersih 3.0. Yet, the relevant authorities chose to ignore it when taking action against those who came for Bersih 3.0.

It is the Bar Council and other NGOs which show no fear or favour in revealing what they saw during Bersih 3.0. The lawyers who cared for their profession and Malaysia that turned up for their emergency general meeting who deliberated and debated on the issue. Those who dissented had time to speak their mind but the majority of that day counts.

That is something that Umno and Muhyiddin has to respect. Just as much as Malaysians have to respect any outcome of any vote using a clean electoral roll.

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