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South Indian Labour Fund (SILF)
 

Speech
-
on the motion of thanks 2005 
by M Kula Segaran

(Dewan Rakyat,  Tuesday): On 12 July99 the government introduced a bill to dissolve and wind up the activites of the South Indian Labour Fund(SILF). We in the DAP objected the passing of the bill. At that time the bill was before the dewan I had then suggested instead of abolishing the SILF the government should instead set a aside annually a sum of RM500 to further help the Indians. But my motion was defeated. 

We had said very clearly that the SILF ought to be kept in tact and it ought to be revamped. When we objected to the closing down of the SILF the Works Minister Dato Seri Samy retorted that the SILF was badly managed and the it need to be dissolved for the government to take over the assets. When confronted at the lobby of Parliament on 12thJuly99 Dato Samy said as regards the balance monies standing to the credit to the SILF the minister informed us a decision on the money would be made within 3 months. The public is still waiting for a formal announcement although many years have since passed. 

 

The government then agreed that an Industrial Training Institute would be built. There was further with an assurance that priority would be given to Malaysian Indians to be admitted in the said skills training institute to be built on the SILF land at Nibong Tebal. The skill institute has been now named after its original donor the late Arumugam Pillai.   

The Institute was built at a cost of more then RM6millon. It has to be remembered the institute stands on the property which was run as a old folks home for the decedents of South Indian laborers.  In the 14-acre land hostels have been built to cater for the housing of the students perusing studies at the institute.

In the recent January 05 intake 600 students were taken in to the Arumugam Pillai institute. What is most shocking is that not a single Indian student was taken in? What steps have the government taken to inform the Malaysian public that the institute was taking in students? Did the government place any advertisement in the Tamil papers on the intake? How many estates have the authorities visited to enlist students?

 

The Malaysian public expects and wants clear explanations as to the real reasons on the failure by the authorities to ensure Malaysian Indians are given priority in the admission to the institute.

 

Is the government aware hundreds of Indian students are unable to get job trainings? Those Indian Students who are financially well off have got themselves admitted in the many private institutions across the country.

 

Malaysian Indians are the most left out under the Malaysian sun. It is said for the record that the Malaysian Indians have the highest unemployment rate, the highest number of school drop outs, the highest number of landless people, highest alcoholic rate not to speak of other pressing problems but in terms of criminal activities the Indians have a record 33% in comparison to other races!    

 

 

Bar Council

 

Any civilized and democratic society recognizes the importance of a competent, free and independent body of legally trained members to promote the advancement of thought, the administration of justice and to advice on legal matters in accordance to the rule of law and constitutionalism.  This objective however cannot be achieved if restrictions are imposed by the legal system in force.

 

Input received from young lawyers in Malaysia point to the fact that they are unable to directly contribute their ideas and efforts to the betterment of society due to the statutory limitation imposed by Section 46A of the LEGAL PROFESSION ACT ( LPA) 1976. This debilitating section forbids lawyers of less than seven years of practice (irrespective of their previous background) or those who hold any office in any political party or trade union, from being elected to the Malaysian Bar Council or the State Bar Committee. These two bodies exist by virtue of the LEGAL PROFESSION ACT 1976. The Malaysian Bar Council exerts considerable influence in determining the policies and future  direction of legal matters especially on issues that may in one way or another affect all Malaysians.

 

With a membership of more than 13,000 lawyers in the country, seventy percent of its composition comprises young lawyers of less than seven years in practice. This number (of young lawyers) continues to grow each year. Young lawyers make up the biggest group in any profession in this country and it is time that due recognition be accorded to them. At present,  it is indeed very unfortunate that this large majority has absolutely no say in the decision making process as they are barred from holding any post in the Malaysian Bar Council or the State Bar Committee due to the operation of Section 46A  LPA.

 

Being young, dynamic and energetic these young lawyers are undeniably a force to reckon with. They exert tremendous potential as agents of social change that can contribute towards the progress and advancement of the nation. This however can only be achieved if they are given a chance to participate in the decision making process.

  

The need to protect the interest of young lawyers has been a matter of great concern. Accordingly, a Young Lawyers Convention first held in 2003 and again in January 2005 passed a resolution calling for the abolishment of Section 46A of the LPA 1976. This section, created vide an amendment to the  LPA in 1975 has outlived its usefulness and is no longer relevant in todayís context. The committees of the Malaysian Bar have not brought about much change on matters likely to be beneficial or of interest to the members of its profession, especially itís young members. It is obviously in need of new (and young) blood.

 

With this, I hereby propose for the abolishment of section 46A of the LEGAL PROFESSION ACT 1976,thereby paving the way for young lawyers to sit in the committees of the Malaysian Bar Council and the State Bar Committees. This would definitely boost their morale and motivate them to contribute their utmost towards the creation of a progressive society and nation. 

 

I would like to draw the attention of the Dewan Rakyat to Section 67 of The Legal Profession Act 1976 (Act 166) under the heading "Quorum". The section states, among others, that the quorum for a general meeting of the Malaysian Bar shall be one fifth (that is 20 percent) of the total number of members of the Malaysian Bar.

 

The Malaysian Bar Council has a membership exceeding 13,000. One fifth or 20 percent of this amounts to 2,600. Logistically, it is very difficult if not impossible for 2,600 lawyers to gather at any one time. Meetings often have to be postponed due to a lack of quorum.

 

When the Legal Profession Act was passed in 1976 the total number of lawyers in the country did not exceed 3,000. It was then reasonably possible to have a quorum as the number was small. The total number of lawyers in the country today  has exceeded  everyone's expectation making it difficult to comply with the statutory requirement to form a quorum. It is obvious that this section is obsolete, impractical and in need of change.

 

I therefore propose that section 67 of the Legal Profession Act 1976 be abolished. I suggest a presence of half of all committee members be accepted to form the necessary quorum.

(29/3/2005)


* M.Kula Segaran MP for Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman