Bar Calls for Resignation of Home Minister and IGP

More than 1,400 lawyers attended the EGM today at the PJ Civic Centre. To be honest, I could not be certain to discount the possibility of there being a police presence at the hall. But all was clear, and the EGM easily hit quorum very early on and I could see that the hall was completely packed to the rafters. Lawyers were virtually hanging over the first level balcony.As set out in my earlier post, 5 legal aid lawyers were arrested when they were present outside the police station trying to get access to their clients. During the EGM, we heard first hand from the arrested lawyers and the other lawyers who tried to assist them, what occurred on 7 May 2009.

1. When the 5 legal aid lawyers were trying to get access to their clients, they were blatantly lied to by the police that their clients had signed the forms dispensing with the need to have legal representation. This is a lie as it is clear from the malaysiakini video on youtube, that the arrested individuals could be seen calling out for their lawyers.

2. When the 5 legal aid lawyers tried to ask the police officer, what were the reasonable grounds for detaining their clients, the police officer refused to answer. Clearly, the police just had no answer to this question.

3. The 5 lawyers were then arrested and then put into a cell. They had to remove all their belongings and items of clothing, and then change into the lock-up clothing. When brought for questioning and brought from place to place, the 4 female lawyers were handcuffed. It is as if these lawyers were a great danger to society, amongst the many snatch thievs, mat rempits, rapists, burglars out there which the police never seem to be able to catch, these lawyers were truly big dangers to society that they had to be handcuffed and locked up.

4. Ravin, who is the Chairperson for the KL Legal Aid Centre, was transferred from the original Brickfields police station to another police station. He was not informed of what station he was being transferred to. The many lawyers outside the Brickfields station could not get any information as to where Ravin was being shifted to. Not a single officer could, or wanted to, answer these queries.

5. When Ravin was being questioned by the police, the police insulted him, got angry at him when he refused to answer questions, made fun of his clothing, made fun of his clothing. No respect was accorded to the fact that in the end, these lawyers were merely officers of the Court and carrying out their legal duties to try to get access to their clients.

6. The lawyers were in the end released on police bail the next day, at around 3pm. Even when the President of the Malaysian Bar walked into the police station to try to speak with the OCPD, one of the OCPD’s first few words were, shouting at the top of his voice in front of all his subordinates “Get out of my balai!”. There was no need for the shouting and there was no need for the rude words.

At the EGM, the members of the Bar clearly were furious at the abuse of police powers. While the original motion merely read for the calling upon of the IGP and other forms of complaints, the members unanimously approved for the amendment of the Motion to call for the resignation of the IGP and the Home Minister. Further, the overwhelming sentiment on the floor is that the lawyers must walk again. There must be a public demonstration of why the arrest of the lawyers was wrong.

Also, any member of the public, not just the lawyer, could go through the same system. You may be arrested, the grounds of your arrest is not informed to you, you are denied the right of legal representation and your own family members may not know where you are. There has to be a change in the system. The laws are clear, both in the Federal Constitution and the Criminal Procedure Code, but the police are blatantly breaking these laws.

This is a video of Ragunath Kesavan, President of the Malaysian bar, at the press conference after the EGM.



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