LPA amendments an open attack on independence of M’sian Bar

Amendments to the 1976 Legal Profession Act: 
An open attack on the independence of the Malaysian Bar

Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM) and the following Civil Society Organisations are gravely concerned with the decision of the government to make several amendments to the 1976 Legal Profession Act. Such amendments are open attacks on the independence of the Malaysian Bar and blatant violations of the right to freedom of association as guaranteed in the Federal Constitution.

It sets a dangerous precedent of government interference in the operations of independent statutory bodies and civil society organisations. We urge the government to withdraw such proposals immediately.

The amendments, due to be tabled in parliament in October 2016, empowers the government to abolish the current direct elections of 12 members of the Bar Council through postal votes and replace it with elections at the state level, the appointment of two representatives by the minister in charge of legal affairs to sit in the Bar Council and to increase the quorum of the Annual General Meeting of the Malaysian Bar from 500 to 4000 members.

The government purportedly made the amendments to improve transparency and representation of the Bar Council, when in reality, it does the exact opposite.

First and foremost, these proposals were not mooted by the members of the Malaysian Bar. Furthermore, the proposed bill has not been made available either to the Malaysian Bar or the public. Hence, its claim of improving transparency and representation is highly questionable.

It is ironic that the Attorney General who had complained about the inadequate representation of the current Bar Council had no qualms about government appointees, a measure that is totally devoid of transparency and representation of the members of the Bar.

The proposal to raise the quorum of the Annual General Meeting to 25% of the membership or 4000 members, smacks of ill intent.  It is absolutely unreasonable and unrealistic, since the highest turnout for any of her AGM has not surpassed 1910 lawyers, out of their 17,000 membership. It is designed to paralyze the functions of the Malaysian Bar.

In comparison, the quorum for the AGM of the Canadian Bar Association with 37,000 members, is only 100. The Hong Kong Bar Association with about 1,300 members, requires not less than 20 members as its quorum to convene a general meeting.

We strongly urge the federal government and the Attorney General, to withdraw the planned amendments and to respect the principle of self-regulation and the right to freedom of association of the Malaysian Bar.

It is the right of the members of the Malaysian Bar to choose her leaders and representatives, through a democratic electoral process. The government must not interfere nor impose conditions on this legitimate and transparent electoral process.

Endorsed by member organizations of Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia:

1.Anak Muda Sarawak (AMS)
2.ENGAGE
3.Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)
4.Japan Graduates Association Malaysia (JAGAM)
5.Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen (KAMI)
6.Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
7.LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLG)
8.Majlis Perundingan Malaysia Agama Buddha, Kritisian, Hindu, Sikh dan Tao (MCCBCHST)
9.Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF)
10.National Indian Rights Action Team (NIAT)
11.Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall (NSCAH)
12.Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran)
13.Pusat Komas (KOMAS)
14.Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
15.Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
16.Tamil Foundation (TF)
17.The Association of Graduates from Universities and Colleges of China, Malaysia (Liu Hua)
18.The Federation & Alumni Associations Taiwan University, Malaysia (FAATUM)
19.Tindak Malaysia
20.United Chinese School Alumni Associations of Malaysia (UCSAAM)

 

Endorsed by other non-governmental organzations:

1.Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (WargaAMAN)
2.Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
3.Federation of Malaysian Indian Organisation (PRIMA)
4.Friends of Kota Damansara
5.Green Friends Sabah
6.Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS)
7.JIHAD for JUSTICE
8.Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan (KPRU)
9.Komuniti Muslim Universal (KMU)
10.Malaysian Indians Progressive Association (MIPAS)
11.Malaysian Indians Transformation Action Team (MITRA)
12.Malaysian Youth And Students Democratic Movement (DEMA)
13.Malaysian Youth Care Association (PRIHATIN)
14.Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute (OHMSI)
15.Perak Women for Women Society (PWW)
16.Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
17.Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor dan Kuala Lumpur
18.Persatuan Rapat Malaysia (RAPAT)
19.Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
20.Projek Dialogue
21.Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (SAWO)
22.Sahabat Rakyat
23.Save Open Spaces, KK
24.Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers)
25.Sekolah Pemikiran Asy Syatibi
26.Sisters in Islam (SIS)
27.Sunflower Electoral Education Movement (SEED)
28.WE ARE MALAYSIANS
29.Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
30.Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)
31.Women Development of Malaysia PJ Branch

 

 

Pindaan kepada Akta Profesion Undang-Undang 1976:
Satu Serangan Terbuka Terhadap Kebebasan Majlis Peguam
Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM) dan Pertubuhan-Pertubuhan Badan Masyarakat Sivil yang berikut berasa amat bimbang dengan keputusan kerajaan untuk membuat beberapa pindaan terhadap Akta Profesion Undang-Undang 1976. Pindaan-pindaan ini adalah serangan terbuka terhadap kebebasan Majlis Peguam dan secara terang-terangan melanggar hak untuk berpersatuan yang dijamin di bawah Perlembagaan Persekutuan.
Ia akan menetapkan satu contoh pertama kalinya yang merbahaya dari segi campur tangan kerajaan dalam urusan badan berkanun yang bebas dan pertubuhan-pertubuhan masyarakat sivil. Kami menuntut kerajaan segera menarik balik cadangan pindaan tersebut.
Pindaan-pindaan ini yang bakal dibentangkan di parlimen pada bulan Oktober 2016, memberi kuasa kepada kerajaan untuk memansuhkan pemilihan langsung 12 anggota Majlis Peguam menerusi undi pos dan menggantikannya dengan pemilihan di peringkat negeri, perlantikan dua wakil kerajaan oleh menteri yang bertanggungjawab ke atas hal ehwal undang-undang untuk duduk dalam Majlis Peguam, dan menaikkan kuorum Perhimpunan Agung Majlis Peguam dari 500 ke 4000 ahli.

Kerajaan mendakwa pindaan-pindaan ini dibuat untuk menambahbaik ketelusan dan perwakilan Majlis Peguam, tapi apa yang dilakukan adalah sebaliknya.
Pertama sekali, cadangan-cadangan ini bukan dicadangkan oleh ahli Majlis Peguam. Tambahan pula, akta pindaan yang dicadangkan ini tidak diberikan sama ada kepada Majlis Peguam atau kepada masyarakat umum. Oleh itu, dakwaan berkenaan menambaik ketelusan dan perwakilan boleh dipersoalkan.
Adalah ironik sekali bahawa Peguam Negara yang sebelum ini mempersoalkan perwakilan Majlis Peguam, tidak mempunyai apa-apa bantahan terhadap perlantikan wakil kerajaan yang merupakan satu langkah yang bercanggah dengan ketelusan dan perwakilan ahli-ahli Majlis Peguam.
Cadangan untuk menaikkan kuorum Perhimpunan Agung kepada 25% daripada keahlian atau sejumlah 4000 ahli, jelas mempunyai niat jahat. Ia adalah tidak munasabah dan tidak realistik, memandangkan jumlah tertinggi kehadiran yang dicatat dalam Perhimpunan Agung sebelumnya tidak lebih dari 1910 orang peguam dari jumlah keahlian seramai 17,000. Ia sengaja dirancang untuk melumpuhkan fungsi Majlis Peguam.

Untuk perbandingan, Perhimpunan Agung Majlis Peguam Kanada yang seramai 37,000 ahli kuorumnya cuma seramai 100 ahli. Majlis Peguam Hong Kong yang mempunyai 1,300 ahli hanya memerlukan tidak kurang dari 20 ahli sebagai kuorum untuk mengadakan perhimpunan agung.

Kami menyeru kerajaan persekutuan dan Peguam Negara untuk menarik balik cadangan-cadangan pindaan ini dan menghormati prinsip pengawalseliaan sendiri dan kebebasan berpersatuan Majlis Peguam.

Ahli-ahli Majlis Peguam mempunyai hak untuk memilih pemimpin dan wakil mereka melalui proses pemilihan yang demokratik. Kerajaan tidak patut campur tangan atau mengenakan syarat ke atas proses pemilihan sedia ada yang sah dan telus.

Senarai badan-badan pertubuhan ahli Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia:
1.Anak Muda Sarawak (AMS)
2.ENGAGE
3.Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)
4.Japan Graduates Association Malaysia (JAGAM)
5.Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen (KAMI)
6.Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
7.LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLG)
8.Majlis Perundingan Malaysia Agama Buddha, Kritisian, Hindu, Sikh dan Tao (MCCBCHST)
9.Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF)
10.National Indian Rights Action Team (NIAT)
11.Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall (NSCAH)
12.Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran)
13.Pusat Komas (KOMAS)
14.Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
15.Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
16.Tamil Foundation (TF)
17.The Association of Graduates from Universities and Colleges of China, Malaysia (Liu Hua)
18.The Federation & Alumni Associations Taiwan University, Malaysia (FAATUM)
19.Tindak Malaysia
20.United Chinese School Alumni Associations of Malaysia (UCSAAM)

 

Senarai badan-badan masyarakat madani lain:
1.Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (WargaAMAN)
2.Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
3.Federation of Malaysian Indian Organisation (PRIMA)
4.Friends of Kota Damansara
5.Green Friends Sabah
6.Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS)
7.JIHAD for JUSTICE
8.Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan (KPRU)
9.Komuniti Muslim Universal (KMU)
10.Malaysian Indians Progressive Association (MIPAS)
11.Malaysian Indians Transformation Action Team (MITRA)
12.Malaysian Youth And Students Democratic Movement (DEMA)
13.Malaysian Youth Care Association (PRIHATIN)
14.Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute (OHMSI)
15.Perak Women for Women Society (PWW)
16.Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
17.Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor dan Kuala Lumpur
18.Persatuan Rapat Malaysia (RAPAT)
19.Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
20.Projek Dialogue
21.Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (SAWO)
22.Sahabat Rakyat
23.Save Open Spaces, KK
24.Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers)
25.Sekolah Pemikiran Asy Syatibi
26.Sisters in Islam (SIS)
27.Sunflower Electoral Education Movement (SEED)
28.WE ARE MALAYSIANS
29.Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
30.Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)
31.Women Development of Malaysia PJ Branch

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