The Walk for Justice

Today, around 1500 – 2000 lawyers showed up at the steps of the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya. We then staged a peaceful walk down to the Prime Minister’s office, to hand over a memorandum urging the government to investigate not only the revelations from the Lingam video tape, but to also investigate further the state of the judiciary and the system of judicial appointments.We started making our way down to the Palace of Justice, a building housing the appellate courts of Malaysia, at around 9.45am. I then started to get phone calls on how the police had set up road blocks on all the roads leading into Putrajaya, but they were still letting cars through.

We arrived at the road block, and we saw that the chartered coaches of the Bar ferrying the lawyers from KL to Putrajaya had been detained at the road block. The passing cars tried to ferry as many of the stranded lawyers as possible, but the majority of the lawyers were still stranded there, the negotiations between the Bar representatives and the police were not successful.

I then got another call from a friend who was already near the Palace of Justice and she anxiously asked me to call her when we got there as she was afraid of going to the Palace of Justice by herself. She said, “I’m scared. There are so many police there.”In a sad way, that is a reflection somewhat of the state of the country where we half-expect the police to turn on us.

We made our way to the steps of the Palace of Justice where the sight of hundreds of lawyers greeted me. It was heart warming to see so many members of the Bar turning up to show their support, all braving the warm weather to don their jackets and ties, some with sports shoes on.

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The numbers in the crowd soon surged past the 1000 mark and more and more of us congregated on the steps.

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The police kept a distance away but the police vans and trucks were all openly on display, with the police wearing their riot gear. A police helicopter also constantly hovered in the air over us.

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The lawyers who were stuck at the roadblock had then decided that they would make the long trek down to the Palace of Justice, some 5 km away, and the rest of us at the Palace of Justice eagerly awaited their arrival and cheers broke out when the large group of them arrived. I can’t quite fathom the reason for refusing entry of the coaches. We could see tour buses teeming with tourists being driven around the roads, but the Bar coaches had been specially singled out.

We then started our 3km walk right through the streets of Putrajaya. Dark clouds could be seen over the horizon but we were thankful for the clouds and the cool weather.

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The Prime Minister’s office in the background

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Just as we were about to arrive at the outer area of the Prime Minister’s office, some policemen attempted to stop the front of the line from walking on. I think the police made some attempts to disperse the crowd but what were you going to do against a line of more than 1000 people, peacefully strolling down the road? The police backed off and we continued walking on until we arrived just outside, to be greeted with a long line of police as well as members of the Federal Reserve Unit.

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A water cannon was on standby but there was no need for it. The four office bearers of the Bar went into the Prime Minister’s office and met his Principal Secretary. The clouds above at this point gave way and a heavy downpour fell on all of us, but the members of the Bar continued to stay behind.

I think it was a proud day for the Bar. All of us were united in making a simple statement. For too long, we whispered and muttered in hushed tones about the state of our judiciary and the allegations of corruption. Hopefully, we have now taken a small step in bringing about some change.

I am expecting the mainstream media here to only briefly mention this whole walk. Channel News Asia from Singapore has already picked up the story, along with the International Herald Tribune. Veteran Malaysian blogger, Jeff Ooi, blogged about this and has lots of nice photos.

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2 thoughts on “The Walk for Justice

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