The recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Malaysia is deeply concerning. While the Malaysian Bar commends the Government’s efforts in carrying out vaccinations in phases, we sincerely hope that the Government will consider prioritising members of the legal profession, the Judiciary, and those in the judicial and legal services when it comes to receiving vaccinations — as the legal system and its actors have a major role to play in the dispensation of justice and the functioning of the economy.
The Malaysian Bar understands that addressing the pandemic is first and foremost a health and safety concern, however the impact of the pandemic has far wider ramifications. This presents a need to strengthen the effectiveness of the provision of justice in this ever-evolving social predicament. As early as the end of March 2021, the Malaysian Bar had written to the relevant Government authorities to seek for early vaccination of lawyers, the Judiciary and those in the judicial and legal services. We must be able to carry out our duties and responsibilities unhindered by the constraints caused by the pandemic, in order to allow justice to be delivered swiftly and properly.
This is particularly true for those who are involved in the criminal justice system. Lawyers who provide legal representation to accused individuals who are brought in from prison or detention centres may face a higher risk of contracting the virus. This is due to the living conditions of inmates which may be a hotbed for transmission. Judges and judicial and legal officers also face a heightened risk of contracting the virus due to the front-facing nature of their jobs.
Lawyers also work closely with other agencies such as Land Offices, Inland Revenue Board, Companies Commission of Malaysia and various Government and local authorities, and have an indispensable role to play in the economy of the country.
The Malaysian Bar therefore urges the Government to consider allowing those in the legal profession, the Judiciary, and the judicial and legal services to be vaccinated soon, in order to safeguard the rights of Malaysians during these tumultuous times.
A G KALIDAS
24 May 2021