Sun (Used by permission)
by R. Manirajan and B. Suresh Ram
PUTRAJAYA (Sept 26, 2007): About 2,000 lawyers and supporters converged
today in a show of support as officials of the Bar Council handed over two
memorandums to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, calling for the
setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the controversial video clip,
and a Judicial Appointment Commission. (Click here to view the Picture Gallery)
The memorandum was handed over to Abdullah’s political secretary from his
Internal Security Ministry, Senator Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh by council
president Ambiga Sreenivasan and three other members, including senior lawyer
Datuk Shafie Abdullah, at about 12.30pm. They were in the office for about 40
Earlier, the lawyers, non-governmental organisation members and well-wishers of
all races turned up in this normally quiet administrative capital for a "Walk
For Justice", causing a stir. There was heavy police presence and roadblocks
were set up at entrances to Putrajaya and about seven buses and cars with
lawyers and civilians were denied entry.
Following the handing over of the memorandums, Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s unveiling
of a video recording of a telephone conversation between a senior lawyer and a "Datuk",
that sounded like they were brokering the appointment of judges to important
In a press conference later, Ambiga said the council has asked for a meeting
with Abdullah and this was conveyed to his political secretary, adding that
there were several recommendations made to the government on improving the
Abdullah is in New York attending the United Nations General Assembly and will
be back only on Oct 4.
Yesterday, the government announced the establishment of a three-man Special
Independent Investigation Panel to determine the authenticity of the video
The panel is headed by former Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor,
former court of appeal judge Datuk Mahadev Shankar and Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.
Their report will be made public, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul
Razak had said.
On the legal standing of the panel, Ambiga said there is no problem but it is
not clear what sort of powers they will have.
She said that under the Commissions Act, members have the power to call
witnesses and administer the oath and compel evidence but with this panel, they
may not have such powers.
"But they may get the information in some other way ... there is no problem with
regards to their legal standing ... it is perfectly legal," she said.
Ambiga thus said the sooner the panel completes its work the better.
She added the council is prepared to cooperate, adding that all three members of
the panel are "of the highest integrity".
Earlier, about five bus loads of Bar members were not allowed to enter Putrajaya.
They had to walk 5km from the highway to the Palace of Justice, the meeting
point, where they were greeted loudly by others.
Advised by Ambiga to behave with dignity, the crowd began their walk about
11.20am to Dataran Putra, a distance of 3.5km.
There was no move by the police to stop the walk. As the crowd reached Dataran
Putra, directly in front of the PM’s office, they were met by a phalanx of
uniformed police officers and a FRU Light Strike Force Unit.
Mother Nature also greeted their arrival with a torrential downpour.
Another group of about 500 people were stopped at Parcel C, where the Public
Services Department is.
Speaking to reporters, Ambiga said though police initially stopped the buses
bringing their members, they allowed them to walk in a peaceful manner.
The previous time the Bar Council marched in solidarity was in 1978 for the
Societies Act and in 1998 for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Others who joined in the march were officials from the DAP, PAS, PKR, MTUC and
civil society organisations.