Bar passes resolutions calling for political funding law, condemning cops over conduct during 2022 lawyers' walk
KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 — The Malaysian Bar, at its 77th Annual General Meeting today has passed 11 resolutions.
Among others, Karen Cheah Yee Lynn, who is retained as the Bar’s president, said the Bar unanimously passed a resolution on the enactment of the political financing laws, and the house was quite unanimous in expressing that a legislative framework is necessary.
“We have been advocating the political financing Act very strongly in the last year, and we were then invited to sit in the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) within the Parliament Select Committee, and we were specifically invited because they wanted to tap into the Bar Council’s skills in drafting the Bill.
“And that’s what we did last year, we actually drafted a Bill, and that Bill was ready to be presented as a private members’ Bill in Parliament. But I think there was quite a bit of a pushback in terms of the political financing Bill, and then the government changed,” Cheah told reporters at a press conference here.
“So at this point in time, we are continuing our advocacy which is the reason why we put in the motion because we want there to be some kind of importance and significance to be put into this Bill — we have no framework at all in Malaysia,” she added.
Cheah added that without this framework, it becomes very difficult and unwieldy in terms of what amounts to donation and how corruption can actually expand.
“Then we had seminars, joint-working forums with other NGOs. We have also briefly explained the provisions under the political funding Bill to private companies and we have also put in a working paper to the ministry of law and institutional reform, it’s one of the papers we have submitted to Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said and deputy minister Ramkarpal Singh.
“It’s a lot of things [we did] in order to move the Bill, to be tabled at Parliament very soon,” she added.
When asked about a timeline, Cheah said this a decision in the hands of the Executive, however, there is no need to wait.
“But all we can say is that there is no need to wait because we have already drafted the Bill. There is no hindrance, what it really requires is political will from both spectrums,” she said.
Another resolution passed in Bar’s AGM today was a very important motion that is close to the Bar’s members.
“The resolution is close to our hearts, and it is the motion to condemn the police for its action and conduct during the Walk for Judicial Independence on June 17, 2022,” she said.
“We have actually commenced legal action against the police, together with the Home Ministry. We filed the paper sometime in October and it’s ongoing, the pleadings — meaning the summons, statement of claims, statement of defence, reply to the defence — all that have been filed by the respective parties.
“I understand that there is going to be a case management sometime in April of 2023,” Cheah said.
She further recalled that after the Walk, the police had issued the Section 111 notice to herself, the Bar secretary, chief executive officer Rajen Devaraj and a senior Bar Council member Roger Chan.
“All four of us were issued this Section 111 notice with a view that we are supposed to go to the police station and provide a statement. Now, all four of us have declined to give a statement, and we challenged the Section 111 notice.
“We brought a judicial review application to court, once we brought the judicial review application to court, nine days later we received a letter from the PDRM to say that there is NFA (no further action).
“So because of that, our council has said that the matter is academic, so we withdrew that action. So what I want to highlight is that the fact that obviously they do not have a case, and they were just fishing, that’s a reason why when we put in the judicial review, they immediately said NFA,” she said.
Organised by the Malaysian Bar, the Walk came amid rising concern over the rampant online vitriols launched against one of the judges that found former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak guilty of embezzling funds from a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) subsidiary.