Call on the de facto Minister of Law,
Dato Seri Rais Yatim, to set an example of the government's sincerity
in being prepared to listen by acting on calls made by young legal
professionals to remove Section 46A of Legal Profession Act 1976 and
table an amendment to the Act
Press Conference Statement
by Fong Po Kuan
(Kuala Lumpur, Thursday): It was reported today that the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said the Government was prepared to listen to young professionals in efforts to bring the country’s development and progress to greater heights.
I call on the de facto Minister of Law, Dato Seri Rais Yatim, to set an example of the government's sincerity in being prepared to listen by acting on calls made by young legal professionals to remove Section 46A of Legal Profession Act 1976 and table an amendment to the Act.
DAPSY support the call by the young legal professionals to remove S.46A of Legal Profession Act 1976 which disqualifies a legal practitioner of less than seven years or who is a Member of Parliament, or State Assembly, or local authority, or who holds office in trade union or political party or organization with political nature to be a member of the Bar Council or Bar Committee.
When the amendment to the Act to include the undemocratic and unconstitutional clause was proposed in 1978, the then Minister of Law, Datuk Seri Haji Hamzah bin Datuk Abu Samah, told the House the following to justify the need for S. 46A:
“ Seksyen baru 46A (b) dan (c ) pula adalah bertujuan menyekat ahli-ahli peguam yang aktif di dalam politik daripada menggunakan pengaruh dan pendirian politik dalam aktiviti-aktiviti Bar Council atau Bar Committee, kerana tugas-tugas badan-badan tersebut ialah menjaga kepentingan-kepentingan tugas-tugas dan perkara yang betul-betul berkaitan dengan profession peguam”
It was claimed that S.46A (a) was to ensure the Bar Council and Bar committee consist of lawyers who have sufficient experience and who are mature and have a sense of responsibility. As such, seven years of experience was deemed the required period to achieve such.
A resolution passed in a meeting of the Bar Council, attended by only 200 out of 1,200 members, advised members to boycott all trials under the Essential (security cases) Regulations 1975 had prompted the government to take the said action to include S.46A.
When this amendment was tabled it was strongly objected by DAP MPs as S.46A not only restricted the activities of legal practitioners but also violates their freedom of association as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.
The young lawyers have a right to vote to choose whom they want to represent them in the Council, and their choice would be based on their faith in their capability to discharge their professional duties and responsibilities in the Council. The government should not insult the young professionals' intelligence and their professionalism by having S.46A in the Act to curtail their contributions to the nation and their profession.
Similar calls were made in 1978 and 2002 for the removal of the clause.
There are valid grounds in calling for the removal of the said clause and the government should take immediate action to answer these calls.
* Fong Po Kuan, MP for Batu Gajah and member of National Executive Council DAPSY