Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A-G to be Bar Council president, suggests MP

A lawmaker caused a stir in the Dewan Rakyat when he proposed that the Attorney-General be appointed Bar Council president.

Datuk Datu Nasrun Datu Mansur (BN-Silam) said it is high time that the Bar Council "move forward".

"The Bar Council must be independent and impartial.

"It is time that we move forward and I proposed that the Attorney-General be automatically appointed Bar Council president," he said when debating the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill 2015 on Wednesday.

He lamented that the Bar Council had diverted from the original objective of looking after the welfare of lawyers.

"The Bar Council must come back to its original objective: it was formed to look after the welfare of lawyers.

"It should not get involved in politics as it is inappropriate," he said.

He added that the Bar Council should refrain from making statements against the laws of the country because it would affect its integrity in the eyes of the rakyat.

He cited the Singapore Law Society, which is not allowed to comment or give its views on laws in the republic unless requested by the Government.

In response, M. Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat) defended the Bar Council as having the right to uphold justice without fear or favour by expressing its views on various issues.

While welcoming Datu Nasrun's proposal, Kulasegaran said it had been mooted before but unsuccessfully.

"A similar proposal was made 10 to 15 years ago in a move control the Bar Council.

"However, the Attorney-General shied away and did not want the post as it was subject to public scrutiny," he said.

A war of words erupted between Kulasegaran and Datuk Seri Noh Omar (BN-Tanjung Karang) when the latter questioned the Bar Council's election process and the lack of Malay representation in the committee.

"The election process is questionable and an independent body should be appointed to conduct it," he said.

Noh also questioned why there was lack of Malay lawyers in the committee although 60% of some 16,000 registered lawyers are Malays.

Datuk Ahmad Fauzi Zahari (BN-Setiawangsa) asked if there should be a qouta for the committee.

Kulasegaran defended the Bar Council's election process, saying it is based on merit.

"The Bar is not the Malay civil service," he said.

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