Tag Archives: Malaysia

Malaysia: Reconsider Amendments to the Legal Profession Act | Joint Letter

November 14, 2016

We, the undersigned international human rights and legal organizations, are writing to express our serious concerns about the proposed amendments to the Legal Profession Act 1976, which your government has indicated will be introduced in the Parliament. We urge you to reconsider pursuing these amendments, as they pose a serious threat to the independence of the Malaysian Bar, and the right to freedom of association, and threaten the environment in which lawyers are able to freely speak out on matters of concern and public interest.

As the United Nations Human Rights Council affirmed in 2015, an independent legal profession is among the “prerequisites for the protection of human rights and the application of the rule of law, and for ensuring fair trials and the administration of justice without any discrimination.”1 The UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers state that governments shall ensure that lawyers can perform all of their professional functions “without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.”2

The Malaysian Bar, created by statute in 1947, is an independent bar association whose aim is “to uphold the rule of law and the cause of justice and protect the interest of the legal profession as well as that of the public.” It is managed by a 38-member Bar Council, elected annually from among its members. Consistent with its stated purpose, the Malaysian Bar has been an outspoken voice and a key guardian in Malaysia on the Constitution, judicial independence, human rights issues, and the rule of law for several decades.

Malaysia: Reconsider Amendments to the Legal Profession Act | Joint Letter

Malaysia: Can’t punish lawyers just for serving clients labelled anti-govt, minister told

October 26, 2016

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru said minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan’s recent threats to blacklist lawyers and law firms allegedly supporting Bersih 2.0 amounted to punish them for providing a service to their clients. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

Professionals such as lawyers should not be punished or discriminated for merely serving clients which Putrajaya views as anti-government, the Malaysian Bar said today.

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru said minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan’s recent threats to blacklist lawyers and law firms allegedly supporting Bersih 2.0 amounted to “overt discrimination against professionals for their purported contrary political views or affiliations”.

“Professionals, businesses and traders must not be penalised for providing goods or services to those whom the Government arbitrarily labels anti-Government or deems unpatriotic,” he said in a statement today.

Highlighting the independence of the legal profession as a critical pillar of the rule of law, Steven said threats of economic sanctions or other forms of reprisal should not be made against lawyers.

“The Minister’s reported comments are nothing short of political blackmail and intimidation that can never be accepted, let alone tolerated.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/cant-punish-lawyers-just-for-serving-clients-labelled-anti-govt-minister-to

http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/bar_news/berita_badan_peguam/bar_threat_to_blacklist_lawyers_shows_poor_legal_understanding.html

http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/press_statements/press_release_%7C_political_intimidation_of_the_malaysian_bar_has_no_place_under_the_rule_of_law_.html

 

Malaysia: Public Statement – The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses its continued concern about the charges against lawyer N. Surendran in Malaysia

August 31, 2016

n 2014, two sedition charges were brought against N. Surendran for critical comments he made about a court verdict involving his client, Anwar Ibrahim – leader of the opposition and prisoner of conscience.

On June 24, 2016, the High Court of Kuala Lumpur found the Sedition Act  to be constitutional and that the sedition charges brought against N. Surendran still stand. It is our understanding that N. Surendran’s lawyers have filed an appeal of this decision.

The Law Society believes strongly in the independence of the legal profession and in the rule of law. Human rights organizations have indicated that Malaysia continues to use the Sedition Act  to silence its critics and interfere with the independence of the legal profession.

The Law Society of Upper Canada urges the government of Malaysia to comply with Articles 16 and 23 of the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

Article 16 states:

Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.

http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/public-statement—the-law-society-of-upper-canada-expresses-its-continued-concern-about-the-charges-against-lawyer-n-surendran-in-malaysia-591865231.html

Malaysia: Sedition charges against lawyer Surendran

August 12, 2016

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L4L has called on the Attorney General of Malaysia to drop the sedition charges against lawyer N. Surendran.
In August 2014, two separate sedition charges were brought against mr. Surendran. We understand that both charges were connected to critical comments made by mr. Surendan in the context of the case of his client Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, whom he represents in a criminal appeal against sodomy charges. The first sedition charge relates to a press statement issued by mr. Surendan, claiming the decision of the Court of Appeal in this case was ‘flawed, defensive and insupportable’, while the second charge concerns comments on the court decision in a video that was uploaded to YouTube.
Mr. Surendran has filed an application to the High Court, requesting the court to strike out his sedition charge. In his application, mr. Surendan has argued that the allegedly seditious comments he made in the YouTube video on August 8, 2014, were uttered as he was emerging from the Federal Court in Putrajaya in his capacity as Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s lawyer. On 24 June 2016, the High Court of Kuala Lumpur found the Sedition Act to be constitutional, and that sedition charges brought against N. Surendran are still valid. N. Surendran’s lawyers filed their appeal against the decision of the High Court on 27 June 2016 to the Court of Appeal.
L4L is worried about the situation of lawyers in Malaysia. There seem to be increasing attempts by the authorities to silence lawyers expressing critical views and opinions about the government. In March 2016, sedition investigations were initiated against four lawyers of the Malaysian Bar: Karen Cheah, Hector Fernandez, Francis Pereira and Shanmugam Ramasam.

Malaysia Sedition charges against lawyer Surendran

Malaysia: Steven Thiru: A government-controlled Bar may scare off foreign investors

July 16, 2016

Malay Mail Online speaks to Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru in Kuala Lumpur July 14, 2016. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

The proposed appointment of two government representatives in the Bar Council will not only compromise its independence but may also drive away foreign investors, Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru said.

He added that foreign investors want an independent Bar in case of disputes with the authorities.

“Once you do not have an independent Bar, it becomes a concern for the foreign investor — ‘If I actually have a problem with the local authorities, how would I resolve it in a way that’s consistent with the rule of law if the Bar itself is controlled or influenced by the government?” Steven told Malay Mail Online at an exclusive interview on Thursday.

He said foreign investors want both an independent Bar and an independent judiciary, and that it would be very difficult for the latter to operate effectively without the former.

“The investor must know that the government doesn’t control the Bar so that he can be confident that the lawyer representing him can do his best before an independent judiciary,” the head of the peninsular legal body added.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/steven-thiru-a-government-controlled-bar-may-scare-off-foreign-investors

Malaysia: Don’t Undercut Independence of the Bar

July 19, 2016

Human Rights Watch

The Malaysian government should stop trying to muzzle the outspoken Malaysian Bar, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Prime Minister Najib Razak. The government’s proposed amendments to the Legal Profession Act, which are expected to be submitted to parliament in October 2016, would interfere with the bar’s self-regulation and independence.

Then-President of the Bar Council of Malaysia Christopher Leong speaks at a rally calling for the repeal of the Sedition Act in Kuala Lumpur on October 16, 2014.

(Then-President of the Malaysian Bar Christopher Leong speaks at a rally calling for the repeal of the Sedition Act in Kuala Lumpur on October 16, 2014. © 2014 Reuters)

“The Malaysian government’s blatant attempt to silence the country’s bar shows little concern for the immense damage this will do to the rule of law in the country,” said Phil Robertson. “The government should drop its proposed amendments so the bar remains free to choose its own leaders, act without improper government interference, and speak out on legal issues.”

Human Rights Watch said that the proposed amendments are contrary to international human rights principles and called on the government to withdraw them.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/07/19/malaysia-dont-undercut-independence-bar

Malaysia: Malaysia urged to drop charges against lawyer N Surendran

June 29, 2016

The Malaysian authorities must immediately and unconditionally drop all charges that have been brought against N Surendran, a lawyer and opposition lawmaker, solely for criticising a court verdict in 2014 concerning his client, the de facto opposition leader and prisoner of conscience, Anwar Ibrahim.

On June 24, 2016, the High Court of Kuala Lumpur found the Sedition Act to be constitutional, and that sedition charges brought against Surendran are still valid. This decision sets a dangerous precedent not only for the continued use of the Sedition Act against government critics, human rights defenders and activists, but also raises concerns on the right of individuals to legal representation and defence.

Surendran’s lawyers filed their appeal against the decision of the High Court on June 27, 2016 to the Court of Appeal.

Amnesty International believes that the criminal charges brought against Surendran are politically motivated, prevent him from carrying out his work independently, and amount to harassment and intimidation. According to international human rights standards, governments should ensure that lawyers are able to perform their professional functions without intimidation, harassment, hindrance or improper interference.

The organisation is also concerned about increasing attempts by the authorities to silence lawyers expressing critical views and opinions about the government. More recently, on March 31, 2016, police hauled up four lawyers Karen Cheah, Charles Hector Fernandez, Francis Pereira and Shanmugan Ramasamy to record their statements.

https://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/347135

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/07/01/surendran-no-obligation-for-guan-eng-to-resign/

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/06/29/lawyer-dharmendrans-family-will-continue-to-seek-justice/