Professional bodies are set up to promote its profession, set standards for the profession and promote excellence among its members.
Professional bodies are expected at all times to protect the rights of its members in its entirety and not to protect any individuals.
I have been associated with a leading professional body for over 18 years as a board member as well as a past president and have chaired many meetings of the council.
At all meetings, the board constantly reviews its objective which is to work in the interest of its members, promote the profession and establish relationship with its stakeholders.
However, in the recent Malaysian Bar Council's Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM ) held last Saturday, resolutions was passed to condemn the excessive force used by the police during the Bersih 3.0 rally.
A professional body like the Malaysian Bar Council should concentrate on the legal profession which is to encourage legal excellence, promote high academic standards and encourage social interaction and discourse by all those interested in the law.
Under the Legal Profession Act (LPA), the Bar Council is empowered to set standards for the legal profession, issue practicing certificates and regulate its members.
The action by the Bar Council to condemn the police brutality is no way an act to protect the interest of its members as many opposition political parties were involved in Bersih 3.0.
This has turned the professional body into a political party. Never before in the history of a professional body, has it protected an action of an individual in this case the past president, Ambiga Sreenevasan, when the purpose of such an organisation is to work in the interest of its members as a whole.
Ambiga was working very closely with Opposition parties in garnering support to bring in the crowd to support her Bersih 3.0 Rally.
Is current Bar Council President Lim Chee Wee protecting Ambiga by passing a resolution condemning the use of force by police or is he protecting the interest of its members?
Very obviously the Bar Council is straying away from its fundamental objective as enshrined in the Legal Profession Act.
The act by the Bar Council on its impartiality is questionable as it moves from a professional body to a political movement.
Many lawyers has expressed their dissatisfaction in the resolution passed as well as its Council leadership headed by Lim.
Lawyer Abu Baker Sidek has expressed that he no longer wants to be associated with the Bar as he called the Bar stupid and biased. It appears that the Bar has incidentally turned itself into a political party.
I remember during my presidency of a leading professional body I have sat with many of the presidents of the Malaysian Bar and they had standing on their own with no political inclinations.
However, Ambiga's influence of the current Bar president and his council had turn the Bar into a political movement.
Minister in the Prime Minister Department, Nazri Aziz, has called for an alternate Bar which is more independent and today a member of the Bar had applied to the court to nullify the EGM held last Saturday.
Is setting up an alternate body a solution to the problem?
The members have the right to pass a motion of no confidence on the president and the council or explore the possibility of setting an alternate Bar.
The resolution lies at the face of the problem itself, the Malaysian Bar must return back to its original objective of serving the interest of its members and not to involve itself with the activities of political parties.
Madhu Marimuthu is past president of the Institute of Internal Auditors Malaysia.