It was heartening to see our lawyers creating history in taking the 'walk of justice'. Many of them would have left their jobs and comforts of their homes and offices to give support to the Bar Council for a cause they felt so dearly. Even rain and the intimidating heavy police presence could not scare them away as they marched over 3km to hand a memorandum to the Prime Minister's office.
It is very sad that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi himself was not there to receive the memorandum in person. However the premier's political secretary Wan Farid Wan Salleh, who received it on behalf of the PM. gave an assurance that Abdullah would look into the memorandum and that he would even arrange a meeting between the prime minister and the Bar's office bearers. Yes, that was what is really needed a meeting to discuss an important issue affecting the nation.
We must bear in mind that those who wanted to hand over the memorandum were not criminals and thugs but lawyers who belong to the noble legal profession. What they were asking are not permits to operate illegal and immoral activities but stern action from the government to safeguard the integrity of the judiciary, the custodian of justice for the people. Is that asking too much?
It would have been a great demonstration of his wisdom and statesmanship if only the prime minister had agreed to meet the lawyers in a cordial manner like inviting them for a buka puasa session or something to that effect. By doing so he would have won the hearts of not just the lawyers but the people at large and even his advesaries. Instead he chose to evade these citizens who came asking him to protect the rights of the very people he is supposed to serve.
It is time for the prime minister to adopt a more conciliatory approach towards citizen groups, even the opposition, that work for the general well being of the people. No single group should claim to have the monopoly to work for the welfare of the people. It is the right and privilege of every citizen to contribute in whatever way he can towards that aim.
Combative and confrontational attitudes of his predecessor are definitely not the way. Abdullah has clearly departed from this confrontational attitude of his predecessor in dealing with foreign leaders. He should similarly do so and adopt a more conciliatory approach to his own fellow citizens with dissenting views. There is no better way to win the hearts and minds of the people than being with them in their crises.
The lawyers may not achieve their demands; setting up of a royal commission of inquiry to probe the Lingam tape and a Judicial Appointment and Promotion Commission but they have shown the people that they are capable and willing to rise up to the occasion to defend their rights.