The Malaysian Bar is disturbed to hear of news reports detailing a call on the Bar Council and other organisations to not interfere in matters pertaining to Islam in the name of human rights,1 by Pasir Mas MP, Ahmad Fadhli Shaari, speaking at the Kongres Maruah Melayu (Malay Dignity Congress) on 6 October 2019.
Such an assertion is mischievous and unfounded. The Malaysian Bar is a body of legal practitioners in Malaysia, established by the Legal Profession Act 1976. As a statutory body, we are tasked with abiding by the object and powers of the Bar as set out in the said Act. Section 42(1)(a) reads, "The purpose of the Malaysian Bar shall be –– to uphold the cause of justice without regard to its own interests or that of its members, uninfluenced by fear or favour".
This rule of law mandate is to be read together with section 42(1)(d) and (g), which provides that the Bar is also to do the following:
(d) where requested so to do, to express its view on matters affecting legislation and the administration and practice of the law in Malaysia;
(g) to protect and assist the public in all matters touching ancillary or incidental to the law.
The Malaysian Bar has always acted independently and has performed this salutary role in the protection of constitutional rights, in the defence of the independence of the Judiciary, and in promoting access to justice. This is the internationally recognised mandate of an independent and robust Bar.
In times of national need, the Malaysian Bar has stood up to protect the rights of all Malaysians and will continue to speak up on matters pertaining to law and public interest, uninfluenced, and without fear or favour.
Therefore, the Malaysian Bar should not be used as a bogeyman by those who seek popularity or to advance their cause.
Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor
8 October 2019
 "Top govt positions should be for Malays only", The Sun Daily, 6 October 2019; similarly reported in "At Malay congress, PAS MP wants Sunni Islam made official religion of federation", Malay Mail, 6 October 2019; "Five resolutions presented at Malay Dignity Congress", New Straits Times, 6 October 2019.