The Malaysian Bar wholly disagrees with the position taken by Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Parliament and the law that “the Malaysian Bar ought to have come forward and given their views on the various allegations identified by the special taskforce. To refuse participation and then question the impartiality of the special taskforce and its members should not be the Bar’s way to confront issues of this kind”, and we reiterate that the Malaysian Bar was justified in declining to participate in the special taskforce.
The earlier Malaysian Bar press release on 25 October clearly explained that the Malaysian Bar declined to participate in the special taskforce since the request required us to verify and comment on the accuracy of the contents in the memoir, to which the Malaysian Bar is not in a position to do, as it has no direct or personal knowledge thereto.
The Malaysian Bar went on to outline in the press release the possibility of it being called as a witness in the event of a legal suit being filed as a result of the special taskforce report, and that the Malaysian Bar wished to avoid being utilised as a tool of any political manoeuvring. This decision was made by the Bar Council back in February 2022, even before the declassification of the special taskforce report and the legal suit by former attorney general Tommy Thomas against the special taskforce.
The declassification of the special taskforce report on the former attorney general’s memoir was made on 21 October and his recent filing of the legal suit on 27 October are developments that clearly validate the Malaysian Bar’s reservations, and that we were correct to have exercised caution when deciding not to participate in the special taskforce exercise.
It is therefore not entirely accurate to state that “the Bar Council was not keen to participate” as stated in the special taskforce report; neither is it accurate to state that the Malaysian Bar had “failed” or “refused” to participate, without considering or taking into account the context as to how and why the Malaysian Bar’s non-participation came about.
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The Malaysian Bar maintains that there is no correlation between not participating in the special taskforce and the right to question the legitimacy and legal standing of the special taskforce. Declining to participate in the special taskforce does not preclude the Malaysian Bar from expressing its views on the legitimacy of the taskforce.
The Malaysian Bar stands as a guardian of the administration of justice and will not be muzzled, especially when vocalising the truth and upholding the cause of justice.
Karen Cheah Yee Lynn is president of the Malaysian Bar
This piece is reproduced from here and has been edited for style only.