The Malaysia Bar EGM @ Dewan Lee San Choon, Wisma MCA. – 18 August 2006

Due to the upcoming Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill 2006 which was drafted without the consultation of the members of the Malaysian Bar Council, Yang Mulia Raja Aziz Addruse and seconded by Datuk Param Cumaraswamy tabled a motion which called for the council to request the authorities to hold the amendments except for 2 and also set up an ad hoc committee to carry out dept studies on the amendments within 6 weeks and thereafter recommend to the relevant authorities.

The amendments by the Legal Profession Act 1976 (Amendment) Bill 2006 was heavily opposed by many lawyers and debates were going on (especially online) for weeks before Saturday’s EGM. For the past weeks, articles and comments were published and distributed among lawyers. Reading the Bill alone is quite confusing as one had to cross refer to the original Act. As such, I based my views on comments and articles posted on the net.

Due to articles and comments, I supported the motion simply because the members of the bar were not consulted over the said amendments and also that (innocent) partners of a partnership are liable for the wrong doings of their partners (note: there are other issues as well). The latter is obviously unfair. It’s like having a wife being chased by loan sharks after her husband defaulted on the loan.

I was told that the members of the Bar were not consulted simply because the process does not require the authorities to do so.
In order for the EGM to proceed, we needed at least a 2500 quorum. The issue of quorum has always been a concern to the members of the bar as without a full quorum, no EGM will be valid. I was told that lawyers all around Malaysia attended the EGM. Even the Penang Bar organised busses to KL!

At 2:20PM, the speaker announced that we have reached our quorum. The crowd exploded in a cheer. I was told that quorum was a record of 3265 lawyers!

The event was organised at Lee San Choon Hall in Wisma MCA with lawyers filling almost every seat. The EGM was chaired by our President. Every person was given an opportunity to speak by heading to one of the mikes around.

Yang Mulia Raja Aziz

Journalists were around as well. However, they were asked to leave when the EGM was about to start.

Also, the last thing that I expected to happen in the EGM was a person coming up to me telling me that she reads my blog. Ms. Oblique, also a journalist for one of the newspapers in Malaysia, came up to me and to say hi. At that time, I was taking pictures of the place, which was obviously out of place. I was caught in an embarrassing situation.

There was no doubt that the majority of the crowd wanted to pass the motion. However, many lawyers stood to debate on the issues and sometimes diverting the issues. At one point, we had a senator standing up criticizing the current Bar Council committee and also supporting the governing party.


Tuan Haji Sulaiman

Moments later, Tuan Haji Sulaiman was interrupted by him.

From all these debates, I’ve learned that you will lose a person’s attention if you do not speak well. Any ‘umm..’ and ‘errs..’ will nevertheless lose the listener. Further, the tone of the voice plays a part as well.

Lawyers in white

After a long debate, we finally decided to vote by raising our hands. The results were that the overwhelming majority supported the motion. And as the Chairman was about to proclaim that overwhelming majority supported the motion, a person suddenly stood up saying, “For clarification purposes, the words overwhelming majority is when one reaches 2/3 of the majority”. O_O||| Lawyers I tell you.
In the end, the Council decided to have a manual vote count. However, at one point, one fellow announced to the floor that his section (top section) has over 1400 votes. After a precise count by volunteer scrutineers, we were informed that the top section had only 500 over people. O_O||||

“1456 votes!!”, said the guy on top.

Lawyers voting

The EGM ended around 5PM. The motion was passed.

As people were about to leave, a lawyer announced that he wanted to put something into record. At that time, we were all eager to leave. The lawyer’s voice was drowned by the noise of chairs moving and people leaving.

12 thoughts on “The Malaysia Bar EGM @ Dewan Lee San Choon, Wisma MCA. – 18 August 2006”

  1. i think more than 12000?
    An interesting note: Japan has roughly 22,000 lawyers — one for every 5,790 people, fewer than 1,500 people are allowed to pass the Bar Exams every year. In the United States, with about twice Japan’s population, the number is closer to 75,000.
    We have too many lawyers 😀

  2. It’s not the first time the authorities have made amendments without consulting the Bar Council like how they take away the jury system.
    But i think “partners of a partnership are liable for the wrong doings of their partners” isn’t such a bad thing. After all there’s a vicarious liability link in my opinion. Maybe I’m not seeing the big picture but I’m giving my opinion based on what I’ve learnt in theory. =P

  3. julz: in this case, MEMBERS of the Bar Council were not consulted. it seems that in the papers, it was reported that the Bar Council was actually consulted in the matter.
    also, if im not mistaken vicarious liability applies when one is acting for another. in this regard, many law firms have a practice where partners act independantly. it is not very practical to have partners monitoring each other’s files. monitoring each other’s files might sound like a good way to solve this problem but if a partner runs away with the firm’s money suddenly, the innocent partner is liable despite his careful steps of monitoring his partner.

  4. heh the 1st pic taken with the name of dewan san choon without the ‘n’ and i thought hmm..interesting name…dewan ‘san choo’ in mandarine (wild boar hall) heh

  5. umeng: no la! we’re protecting our rice bowl! keke
    endroo G:yeah mnay! but didnt see karpal singh though
    zhong : yeah man, i tink my clients couldnt find me as well!
    frank: cis where is your duty to the Bar!
    pokai: hahahaha

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