Contributed by Liew Kok Heng, Writer/Editor; and photos by Jul Indra Tofan, Administrative Assistant, Bar Council Malaysia
The Malaysian Bar renewed its Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”) with the Board of Counsellors on 7 Apr 2023 to continue providing counselling services to Members of the Bar through registered counsellors appointed by the Board of Counsellors.
In effect since 8 Jan 2021, the renewal of the MoU was signed by Karen Cheah Yee Lynn, President of the Malaysian Bar and formally witnessed by Mohamad Ezri b Abdul Wahab, Vice-President of the Malaysian Bar, on behalf of the Malaysian Bar; and Associate Professor Dr Wan Marzuki b Wan Jaafar, President of the Board of Counsellors and formally witnessed by YB Hajah Aiman Athirah bt Sabu, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, on behalf of the Board of Counsellors, at the Raja Aziz Addruse Auditorium at Wisma Badan Peguam Malaysia. The signing was also witnessed by the Ministry’s Secretary-General, Datuk Dr Maziah bt Che Yusoff.
In attendance at the signing ceremony were officers from the Board of Counsellors; the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development; and representatives from the Bar Council Secretariat.
The Vice-President of the Malaysian Bar, Mohamad Ezri b Abdul Wahab, was the master of ceremonies, beginning the occasion with a well-received pantun. He stressed the importance of mental well-being for lawyers, especially in contemporary times, and that discussing issues relating to it should not be considered a taboo or a sign of weakness.
Following the Vice-President’s remarks, Associate Professor Dr Wan Marzuki b Wan Jaafar, in his speech thanked the Malaysian Bar for the opportunity to continue and improve on this programme, adding that the initiative had benefited 52 Members of the Bar so far now, who sought counselling on career, personal development, relationships and other matters, relating to mental health and well-being. Thus far, 166 counselling sessions have taken place. There are a total of 44 counsellors from all states in Peninsular Malaysia appointed under the panel of counsellors.
Karen Cheah Yee Lynn, President of the Malaysian Bar, applauded the continuing collaboration between the Malaysian Bar and the Board of Counsellors. As the importance of mental well-being becomes paramount for society, and specifically lawyers who experience significant mental exhaustion due to the demands of work, the collaboration of these two organisations is crucial in supporting lawyers to become more resilient, tenacious, and stronger in facing contemporary adversities. She also stressed that confidentiality is ensured for those seeking counselling through the programme, and that no one should isolate themselves from confronting mental health issues due to unfounded stigma and reservations. Members of the Bar are encouraged to participate in this programme should they require mental health support.
The signing ceremony ended with an exchange of souvenirs between the Malaysian Bar, the Board of Counsellors, and representatives from the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.