UM law students voice concern over LPA amendments

Source: The Star Online

The Palace of Justice in Putrajaya - File pix

The Palace of Justice in Putrajaya – File pix

PETALING JAYA: A group of local law students have thrown their support behind the Bar Council in opposing the proposed amendments to the Legal Profession Act 1976 (LPA).

Universiti Malaya Law Society president Ng Seng Yi said the amendments, which are scheduled to be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat during its next sitting later this month, would interfere with the independence of the Malaysian Bar.

He said the Bar Council never requested nor was it consulted on the proposed amendments, one of which is to allow the Minister overseeing legal affairs to appoint two members to the legal body who would report directly to Government.

“This duty to report will ultimately be in breach of the LPA, which requires that Bar Council meetings be kept confidential,” Ng said in a statement Saturday. Read more

American Bar wants Putrajaya to reconsider changes to LPA

Source: FMT News

It wants the Malaysian government to meet the Malaysian Bar to get feedback and ensure the independence of the legal profession. Pic taken from FMT News.

It wants the Malaysian government to meet the Malaysian Bar to get feedback and ensure the independence of the legal profession. Pic taken from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: The American Bar Association has written to the Malaysian prime minister to voice its opposition to a proposal to appoint two government nominees to the Bar Council.

Its president Linda Klein in a letter to Najib Razak last week, said there was no justification for mandating government appointments.

“It is unclear what legitimate purpose the government is seeking to fulfill, by mandating government appointment of bar leadership,” she said in the letter dated Sept 23.

The letter has since been published on the Malaysian Bar website.

She said such appointments would inherently undermine the independence of the Bar.

“The proposed law would therefore create an unjustified infringement upon the right of association of members of the legal profession as enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution, international law and required by the UN Basic Principles,” she said. Read more

Threat to Malaysian Bar’s independence — Gurdial Singh Nijar

Source: The SunDaily

(Deputy President, HAKAM)

THE former de facto law minister, Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz (now tourism and culture minister), has unmasked the motive behind the proposed amendments to the Legal Profession Act (LPA): to clip its wings. “If you want to monitor, monitor on what?” he asked. He was amazed that this was taking place in present times.

The Bar, he said, has always been critical even during his term as law minister. “It has not weakened the government in any way. We are still here; we are stronger and to me, let them be,” he said.

This roundly repudiates Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman’s contention – that the proposed amendments to the LPA would only seek to address “bread and butter issues” like legal exams and the ability of all legal practitioners to speak and read English. Ignoring the fact that two government representatives would sit in the Bar Council; and that the whole election system would be revamped such that, according to the Bar Council president, Steven Thiru, it would impede the Bar’s proper functioning.

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Let Bar remain independent, urges Gerakan’s Baljit

Source: FMT News

“Bar Council a barometer of feelings in the country and the government should tolerate constructive criticism from them.” — Baljit Singh

GEORGE TOWN: Defer tabling of the proposed amendments to the Legal Profession Act 1976 (LPA) in Parliament until further discussions are held, Gerakan National Legal and Human Rights Bureau Chief Baljit Singh said today.

He said Gerakan was against the proposed amendments for it would threaten the independence of the Bar as a whole.

The Bar is a professional body that governs all advocates and solicitors in Peninsular Malaysia. The amendment, moved by the Attorney-General (AG), will be tabled in Parliament next month.

Baljit felt the proposed amendments, especially the inclusion of two government appointees within the Bar Council, would affect the credibility of the Bar as a whole.

“Whether we like it or not, the Bar Council throughout the world is viewed as an effective check and balance of the government of the day.

“Yes, there are criticisms … they have been viewed as favouring the Opposition, but that is the case of the Bar around the world. We should take their opinions as is,” he said at a press conference at the Penang Club here today. Read more

Problem to issue certificate if Bar AGM needs 4,000 quorum

Source: FMT News

Amendments to Legal Profession Act can affect Bar Council's ability to function, and members will not be able to obtain practising certificate, says Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru. Pic taken from FMT News.

Amendments to Legal Profession Act can affect Bar Council’s ability to function, and members will not be able to obtain practising certificate, says Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru. Pic taken from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Some 17,000 lawyers in the peninsular risk not being able to go to the courts if a government proposal to compel at least 25 per cent of its members attend its annual general meeting (AGM) becomes law.

Malaysian Bar President Steven Thiru said a quorum of about 4,000 members was impossible to achieve in order to start the AGM and have the Bar Council to take office.

“If there is no Bar Council, no annual certificate can be issued and members cannot obtain the practising certificate” he said in a recent interview with the National Human Rights Society.

The council has to first issue an annual certificate to lawyers, who then obtain their practising certificates from the Registrar of the High Court of Malaya to represent clients in courts.

At present, the quorum required for the Malaysian Bar AGM to proceed is only 500 members.

Steven said the AGM would have to be held in an outdoor venue if the 4,000 quorum is imposed but “that is going to be a near impossible number to achieve”.

He said a quorum was merely a comfortable number for organisers to start their meetings.

“Currently, as the AGM progresses, we see between 1,500 and 2,000 members eventually attend the meeting,” he said, adding that the proposal to have a higher number was a sort of “punishment”.

The Government is scheduled to table several amendments to the Legal Profession Act (LPA) 1976, including the quorum requirement, in Parliament next month.

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Nazri against Legal Profession Act change, says shouldn’t muzzle Bar Council

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 — Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz is opposed to Putrajaya’s planned amendments to the Legal Profession Act (LPA) 1976, saying these would be seen as interference in the independent professional body representing lawyers in peninsular Malaysia.

The federal minister said the Bar Council should be allowed to conduct themselves as they saw fit, and that it was “alright” if they were viewed as critical of the government so long as they did not break the law.

“How they (Bar Council) want to run their affairs, we should leave it to them.

“Let it be … we cannot impose what we want,” he told Malay Mail Online in a recent interview. Read more

Azalina: LPA amendments not to control Bar

Source: FMT News

KUALA LUMPUR: The proposed amendments to the Legal Profession Act 1976 (LPA) is to address present shortcomings on “bread and butter” issues concerning the Malaysian Bar, says de-facto law minister Azalina Othman Said.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with the Bar Council, she explained that the issues were mandatory prerequisites to be a Bar member, such as educational qualifications, common bar exams and language ability.

Azalina pointed out that a common bar exam was required to be a member of the Bar, because at present, members of the Bar came from various backgrounds. Read more

Proham: Strengthen institutional governance for check and balance

Source: Malaysiakini

Our parliamentary democracy is built on the principle of ‘check and balance’ of the executive who have been elected by the people. Independent institutions have the role of preventing abuse of power in public office and taking appropriate action on wrongdoers. Public accountability and good governance are an integral part of human rights and citizens’ action which are guaranteed by our Federal Constitution.

Malaysian policies and legislation has established independent mechanisms which have a public duty to safeguard and protect public interest. These institutions include the attorney-general, the auditor-general, the inspector-general of police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) and the Parliamentary Accounts Committee.

They are to undertake independent monitoring, investigation, inquiry, and assessment and identify wrongdoers who then must be prosecuted.

The Society for the Promotion of Human Rights, Malaysia (Proham) recognises that action or in action by the executive is weakening both parliamentary democracy and good governance in Malaysian society. Collective action is urgently needed to reverse this trend in the public interest.

As we reflect on three current issues in Malaysian society, Proham is deeply concerned for the state of democracy, human rights and public accountability in Malaysia society. Read more

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

Source: Malaysiakini

Pic taken from FMT News

Pic taken from FMT News

21 July, 2016. 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 (LPA). 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 4,000 members.

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