Lawyers: “Please do some soul-searching”

THE art of writing has always been a passion for me; being a lawyer a job. I keep the two apart for personal reasons. But at times – a certain fracas at the Brickfield’s police station comes to mind – this is not quite possible. Thus, I am forced to temporarily forgo the self-imposed delineation of roles. Therefore, at least for today, I am putting on my lawyer’s hat.

On 7 May 2009, five legal aid lawyers approached the gate of Brickfield’s police station requesting to see their clients, who had been arrested earlier for holding a candle light vigil for activist Wong Chin Huat. The police denied them access despite the detainees’ insistence to be legally represented.

Shortly after that, Brickfield’s OCPD ACP Wan Abdul Bahari, went on a rampage, shouting the litany of his warnings declaring that the gathering was “illegal”. A surreal nightmare then began when the five lawyers, including one journalist, were arrested.

This roughshod behavior of the police means only one thing: a transgression to the rules of law.

On a side note, Malaysiakini had captured the incident on video. This was subsequently uploaded on Youtube. I dare not continue speculating on the extent of damage this has done to my country’s image in the eyes of the world. Really, what is the point of fighting blatant stupidity?

Can someone please switch on the lights for Tuan Wan Abdul Bahari? Please?

Tuan, the right for detainees to be represented by counsels of their choice is enshrined in Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution (FC) and sub-sections 28A (2) to (7) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC). Since I expect copies of these statutes to be within your disposal, I will refrain from reproducing it for fear of redundancy.

Exception to this right is crystallised in Section 28A (8) of the CPC, allowing the police to deny detainees access to legal representations in extraordinary circumstances. Bar Council’s Human Rights Committee Co-chairman, Andrew Khoo, added that the exception should be invoked when it is believed that the client may pass harmful information to an outsider via the lawyer, or hide evidence, such as in kidnap cases.

Clearly, on the night in question, the police invoked the exception because they had fancied doing so. 

I am also confused, Tuan: how does the sight of a group of lawyers (who went to see their clients) appear, to you, like an illegal gathering?

With all due respect Tuan, I suggest you read the Police Act, CPC and FC in its entirety. Not only the subsection(s) of your personal choice. Ignorance, Tuan, is never an excuse. And if I may add, don’t you think diplomacy is more effective than shouting?

The tyranny of the police force feeds like fungus on the social fabric of our country. To all intents and purposes it must be nipped in the bud, or we will risk the public losing faith in police force (if this doesn’t happened already!).

In the face of this hostility towards lawyers, a question asked by another lawyer, Azhar (Art) Harun, echoes in my head: “Who polices the police?”

But last Sunday, the online news portal reported the IGP’s reply towards the whole fracas : “Please do some soul searching.” If that’s your take, Sir, I rest my case – really. 

I end my post today with a piece of advice to the IGP: Polis Diraja Malaysia needs to be overhauled in all aspects of the law, morale platform and integrity included. While we are at it, perhaps we could also look into the possibility of setting-up a Royal Commission to police the police? 

13 thoughts on “Lawyers: “Please do some soul-searching”

  1. Elviza

    Well-articulated with the requiste dose of disdain and ascerbic wit. I could not have written it so well. And, of course, I am in full agreement with you.

  2. This is a classic case of no matter how much you dislike lawyers, you must never fight about the law with them and I mean literally that. If I am that Wan Bahari chap I will apologize. That’s the only way to go.

    I just wonder what happened to all Mat Rempits and snatch thieves when the police were arrsting lawyers? They must have had a day snatching people up by the roadside.

    Dey! tak ada kerja ker?

  3. One cannot but agree with Write Away about the police’s action against those lawyers. The response by the IGP just further reinforce the insufferable PDRM’s attitude towards the laws of the country and their disdain for it. The PDRM is really a law onto themselves and has proven themselves irredeemable. Malaysia is but a police state, in name.

  4. Why do you refer to him as “Tuan”? He is nobody’s master.

    His rank should be sufficient. Or “Encik”, or “Mr.”.

  5. “Who polices the police?” – that’s a thunderous question that demands an adequate and prompt answer before tyranny become the order the day.

    Ya, a scum does not deserve to be addressed as ‘Tuan.’!

  6. Excellent.

    It is sad to see the inability to reason and rationalise portrayed by our top guns. And for them to think that the public is stupid enough to swallow whatever they utter in answer to the charges against them is even sadder. Frightening even.

    No wonder they can’t even deal with Mat Rempits.

    Keep it up Elviza.

  7. Elviza!
    I have a slightly different take on the matter.
    There is a saying :GIVE THE MONKEY A GARLAND OF FLOWERS & HE WILL ONLY KNOW HOW TO EAT IT.
    If we revisit the clip, one observes the sense of fear in the faces of the BIB [boys-in-blue].
    I have observed this many a time & oft, particularly @ BPS{brickfields-police-station} & BA{peace-hill}.
    This is even more obvious when the BIBs have to face LEs{legal-eagles}
    And as always, the BIBs reacted with arrest- tangkap,tangkap,tangkap!
    Observe these days especially,BIBs never walk about alone,never drive around alone – they are afraid for their security & safety.
    And this{MAGF:monkey-and-garland-of-flowers}has been made worse with the advent of ICT{integrated-computer-tecknology}.
    Thus, I am of the believe,that our fundamental rights are not being eroded instead it is continually evolving & crystalizing & getting stronger every minute.
    MHM{musa-hassan-mattress}has a total & complete fear of LEs, which is therefore RESPECT.
    Godspeed!

  8. Saya nampak dua orang peronda polis bermotorsikal terserempak dgn dua wanita Rohinga menaiki motorsikal tanpa helmet. Wanita tu senyum. Polis balas senyum dan beredar. Bukannya dia nak tahan org yg menunggang motorsital tanpa helmet !!!

    Kami buat laporan polis tentang masalah orang Rohingya di kawasan kami. Selang dua minggu, bila ditanya apekah tindakan yg telah diambil jawapannya adelah ‘begitulah cara kehidupan org Rohingya kita kena suaikan diri kita’ !!!
    Nak sesuaikan diri dgn org yg membuat bising, bergaduh sesama sendir dan dgn org tempatam, membuang dompet kosong kekawasan kami, disyaki mencuri, disyaki hisap dan/atau mengedar dadah, melepas hajat besar dalam longkang depan rumah, meminta sedekah dipasar malam tapi rumah ade ASTRO, tidak menghormati org tempatan sehingga berkata ‘reportlah polis, tengok siapa kena tangkap sayakah atau awak’ !!!

    Polis – HAMPEH.

  9. Dear Elviza,

    The problem in this country (as probably elsewhere too) is the fact that people, organisations(govt and non-govt),political parties,etc are all looking at what the “other person” is doing wrong, as per their own perspectives. Consequentially, fingers are pointed and ultimatums are given to the “other person”.
    Good to see lawyers going to their clients assistance as soon as it was needed in B’fields. If only this was the norm in more mundane and less high profile cases where there are no”causes” and publicity.
    The members of the Bar, I believe, need to have a good look at their own first, in the context of ethics and principles, in the execution of their day to day responsibilities in the name of justice for the layman.
    There are honourable and dishounourable people in every organisation. The real sin is when honourable people join dishonourable people within their own group to hurl accusations at other, purportedly, dishounourable people. Has the Bar Council been serious and effective over the years in CONSCIENTIOUSLY weeding out errant lawyers on the basis of valid complaints received from laymen? If it has, then please proceed to ask for the resignations of people in other organisations. If not, then, ensure that the membership of the Bar is “reasonably” clean before they start “looking” at other parties.

  10. Dear Elviza,

    i agree with sukhi, about doing things to get attention;

    Lawyers of all people should show ordinary people how to do things in a manner that is not provocotive..Please la, we are sick and tired of people going to the street and trying to show to the silence majority what or who is right and wrong..

    Basic rule, if you visit people house or compound, please show some respect..dont ask yourself in, let the house owner show you the way.if he says only one person can go in at one time respect la, if he says you have to come tomorrow, please respect la.Common, even you come to meminang anak dara dia pun, kalau dia tak beri you masuk, you kena balik dulu..faham.

    Please dont use our name,position or status to entiltle us to anything.That is abuse of power of some sort also..Queu like everybody la.

  11. salam michelle,
    aku balik Msia for a short period just to posa and raya kat Msia,lama tak dpt mood raya Msia. Aku slalu follow local news dr UK,nearly everyday,berada di UK membuat aku melihat perbezaan ketara dr segi value demokrasi, sedih aku melihat kebudakan,ketidakmatangan pihak berkuasa,baca berita kat atas mmg sakit hati dan sedih.

    aku nak berkongsi pengalaman member aku berdemo dgn pihak univ. dan bagaimana matangnya org kat sana.

    nih aku paste dr site,
    http://glasgowanarchists.wordpress.com/2009/02/05/small-victories-at-strathclyde-but-victories-nontheless/
    aku tak jumpa ulasan member aku yg berada dlm demo tu,tp yg pastinya polis jadi tukang jaga org demo bukan tangkap dan pukul etc,

    salam dr kl

    ur x math classmate

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