Not practising what it preaches – Bar Council’s election lacked transparency

The Bar Council election is alleged to lack transparency and improperly conducted and yet it had been demanding the Government to do so
The Bar Council election is alleged to lack transparency and improperly conducted and yet it had been demanding the Government to do so

MOLE : Bar Council member Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz accused the Bar Council of hypocrisy when he claimed that the council lacked in transparency in the election of its own committee members.

 He said the recent Bar Council election for the 2013/2014 term as an obvious example, Khairul Azam told The Mole the body was unable to convince everyone that the election was either transparent or properly conducted.

 One of the things that raised Khairul Azam’s suspicions was when Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee, informed him, in a letter,  that no observers could be allowed to monitor the votes’ counting process “due to logistical and security concerns”. 

 “Earlier, I wrote a letter to Lim requesting him to allow our representative to monitor the postal votes’ counting process, but he replied that it could not be done due to logistical and security concerns,” he said.

 Lim, in the letter, said: “I have consulted with them (three scrutineers) and they have decided that due to logistical and security concerns, the counting process is not open to observers.”

 Another thing that nagged Khairul Azam is the number of ballot papers issued as opposed to the number of registered members.

He said: “There are 14,899 lawyers registered with Malaysian Bar but 14,902 ballot papers were issued.

 “Of the 14,902 that only 3,467 ballot papers were returned.”

 Prior to this, Khairul Azam who had posted Lim’s letter on his Facebook, saw it going viral and saw numerous criticisms towards the body.

 Most of the Facebook users, who had shared the letter in their personal accounts, condemned the Bar Council of hypocisy when the body had been in the forefront demanding for transparent electoral process in the next general election.

The users too critised the Bar Council of being afraid to walk the talk.

 Khairul Azam said he was raising these issues not because he lost in the Bar Council election but felt that it was important for the public to know that the legal body was not sincere about transperncy.

 The result showed only 23.3 per cent of the total registered members lawyers voted in which Hendon Mohamed scored the highest with 2,276 votes while former Bar Council president Sulaiman Abdullah came in second with 2,157 and the current Bar Council secretary Andrew Khoo Chin Hock came third with 1,775.

 From the 23 nominees, only 12 with the most number of votes received would secure a place in the committee.

 Khairul Azam said the manner the Bar Council electoral process have been conducted had given doubts to members and the rest of the public on the sincerity of the body, which had been working closely with Bersih, in demanding the Election Commission for transparency in the Malaysian election.

The flawed Bar Council election, said Khairul Azam, would tarnish its image and commitment to uphold the law without fear or favour.

 Blogger Marcustan pointed out that the Bar Council should be transparent to be consistent with its demands for others to do so.

 Frankly speaking, Mohd Khairul’s request in this matter can be seen as an appropriate manner to promote, encourage and enhance transparency within the organisation itself, despite the fact that the Bar Council will appoint three scrutineers pursuant to S50(2) (e) of the Legal Profession Act 1976,” the blogger said.

 Another blogger, Jebat Must Die pointed out that Lim and the body are actually imposing double standards.

 “How do you reconcile your public pursuit of Bersih with your own personal agenda within your own council? It doesn’t jive at all.

 “I see no point of Bersih to harangue Barisan Nasional to call for foreign observers when they themselves do not want to call observers to their own little election,” the blogger said.

 In Bersih-organised rallies, Bar Council had openly expressed support to the former and had even held an Extraordinary General Meeting asking every member to condemn police’s brutalities on the handling of the riot.

Source: MOLE

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