In an initiative to complement BC’s efforts to expedite the delivery of information to members of the Bar and/or the public, the “Bar In Brief” series will document a summary of BC decisions/discussions/updates at its monthly meetings. This is not an exhaustive list as there are some matters/decisions which cannot be revealed or discussed in the public domain for the moment or at all. For official information on matters of the Bar, kindly refer to the Malaysian Bar website. Comments and feedback are welcome.
I. Separation of (i) the Post/Powers of the Attorney-General (AG) and the Public Prosecutor (PP), and of (ii) the Judiciary from the Judicial and Legal Service Commission
1. BC takes the position that the AG should also not be the PP, and that judicial officers (e.g. Magistrates and Sessions Court judges) should not come within the purview of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission. Discussion papers on these issues have been circulated to members for comments, and BC will engage the Government on BC’s position.
II. Compensation Fund (CF)
2. The CF levy of RM100.00 per annum will be maintained although there are concerns that it may be inadequate to meet the demands of future claims. Already, the Bar is unable to compensate claimants in full for their losses suffered, and the sum of proportionate payments must be at an acceptable level. The Fund has assisted many claimants over the years and it is an important public service.
III. Tripartite Joint Consultative Committee (TJCC)
3. Members of BC, Sabah Law Association and the Advocates Association of Sarawak met on 17 December 2008 and had a good meeting. Matters of mutual interest were discussed – some quite important to our legal practice – right of audience in the Industrial Court of Sabah and Sarawak and in arbitration proceedings, liberalisation of the legal profession, membership of lawyers in Labuan and the Judicial Appointments Commission. Issues relating to migrants and refugees, and the Penan rape cases were also discussed. Information was shared and on ways to move forward on the issues – together. We might see the Tripartite Bar Games again too! The TJCC is revived – it seems there was a similar committee some time back – and further meetings will be held.
IV. Iranian Central Bar Association Visit (13-17 January 2009)
4. The Association will be conducting a study tour here. It will be visiting the courts and meeting various organisations including members of the BC and BC’s committees.
V. Public Forum
5. A forum “Not Just Another War: Myth and Reality in Occupied Palestine” will be held at the BC Auditorium on 9 January 2009 at 8pm followed by a 15-minute candlelight vigil. More information may be obtained here.
VI. Annual Reports of BC’s Committees
6. Reports of the various committees were discussed and adopted for the forthcoming AGM (14 March 2009). Some reports require further amendments.
VII. Proposed Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Identification Act 2008 (DNA Bill)
7. BC is finalising the memorandum on the DNA Bill for submission to the Government. The European Court of Human Rights recently decided that the refusal by the police to destroy fingerprints and DNA samples constituted a violation of the right to privacy (see the Case of S. & Marper v The United Kingdom).
VIII. Proposed resolutions for the AGM
8. BC intends to move several resolutions, among others, a resolution on a proposed Self-Insurance Fund, the repeal of preventive detention laws and the protection of ancestral land rights of the Orang Asli.
IX. Allegation by Dato’ Mukhriz Mahathir in Parliament on 17 December 2008
9. It was said that BC had previously lobbied the British High Commissioner to influence the then Prime Minister to appoint certain judges. This is denied. Views may be sought on who will be a good judge and why. If lawyers are asked who they think are suitable candidates for appointment or promotion, should we shirk from giving our views?
(Personally, I would like to see more details be given for this to be investigated. Which year did this happen? On what particular occasion did this happen? Who were in attendance? What was actually said? Does the High Commissioner “possess” of so much influence or have such an elevated interest in the matter? And we must remember that the 36-member Bar Council is more often than not confused with the 12,600-member Malaysian Bar.)
X. Launch of the revised “Red Book” in pamphlet form
10. BC is launching the revised version of the popular “Red Book” in pamphlet form. Amendments have been made incorporating the new provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code. 100,000 copies are being made. The launch will take place at the BC Auditorium on 9 February 2009 at 4pm. Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz is due to officiate the launch.