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Bar secretary to be quizzed as well, president sees red
Published:  Mar 29, 2016 11:30 AM
Updated: 1:01 PM

The Malaysian Bar's secretary Cheah Yee Lynn will be questioned over a motion calling for attorney-general Mohd Apandi Ali's resignation, in addition to the three lawyers who submitted it.

Revealing this, Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru decried the investigation as an unacceptable interference in the Bar's affairs.

“The action taken by (the police) is unacceptable.

“It is an interference with the Bar Council’s statutory obligation to convene and conduct the Malaysian Bar’s annual general meeting, and the statutory entitlement of members of the Malaysian Bar to move motions for the consideration of the Malaysian Bar, is consistent with the Malaysian Bar’s objects and powers under the Legal Profession Act 1976.

“The Malaysian Bar urges (the police) to respect the statutory duties of the Bar Council and the statutory rights of members of the Malaysian Bar,” he said in a statement today.

Malaysiakini had reported earlier today that lawyers Francis Pereira, R Shanmugam and Charles Hector who had proposed the motion had been called up for investigation.

The trio have been summoned for questioning at the Bukit Aman police headquarters on Thursday for investigation under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948.

The motion against Apandi had been passed during the Bar's 70th AGM on March 19. It was proposed by lawyers Francis Pereira, R Shanmugam, and Charles Hector.

This is for Apandi's refusal to bring charges against Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak over the large deposits found in his personal bank accounts.

Earlier today, Malaysiakini had reported that the trio have been called up for investigation .

They are to be questioned at the Bukit Aman police headquarters on Thursday for an investigation under Section 4(1)(a) of the Sedition Act 1948.

It is unclear whether the four of them are the subject of the investigation or are being questioned as witnesses.

Section 4(1)(a) criminalises any act that has a 'seditious tendency'. It carries a penalty of a fine up to RM5,000, or an imprisonment up to three years, or both, upon conviction for the first offence.

Parliament had passed an amendment to the Sedition Act last year that calls for stiffer penalties, but it has yet to come into force .

Shocking and unacceptable

Meanwhile, Thiru reiterated that, “the Sedition Act 1948 is a draconian piece of repressive colonial legislation that is unclear and uncertain in scope, and suppresses the right to freedom of speech and expression".

Separately, the group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) expressed concern over the investigations and urged for the investigations to be stopped.

It said authorities should respect the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990), especially Article 16 which urges governments to ensure that, among others, lawyers can perform their professional duties without interference, and without being threatened with prosecution.

“It is shocking and unacceptable for these lawyers to be investigated as the Malaysian Bar have a duty to uphold the cause of justice, rule of law and the Federal Constitution.

"Lawyers are enjoined to do so by tradition and legislation, specifically, section 42(1)(a) of the Legal Profession Act 1976 that the purpose of the Malaysian Bar shall be 'to uphold the cause of justice without regard to its own interests or that of its members, uninfluenced by fear or favour',” the LFL said in a statement today.

It said the Attorney-General's Chambers should not be immune from public scrutiny or criticism, like any other public office.

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