The Malaysian Bar refers to our press release titled “The Walk for Judicial Independence — How the Police Had Failed” dated 24 June 2022.1 The Malaysian Bar had, in fulfilling the resolution adopted during its Extraordinary General Meeting on 27 May 2022, organised an assembly and walk, named the “Walk for Judicial Independence” (“Walk”) on 17 June 2022, to hand over a memorandum regarding judicial independence to the Prime Minister or his representative.
The Malaysian Bar had then expressed its disappointment and chagrin at the Royal Malaysia Police (“PDRM”)’s unwarranted conduct towards the participants of the Walk, including their actions in forming human chains surrounding the participants, thereby preventing them from leaving the assembly point at Padang Merbok. After the Walk, on 24 June 2022, the President of the Malaysian Bar, the Chief Executive Officer of the Bar Council Secretariat (Rajen Devaraj), and a Bar Council Member (Roger Chan), were issued notices under section 111 Criminal Procedure Code (“CPC”) to attend the Dang Wangi Police Station to provide statements for the purposes of PDRM’s investigation into the Walk. On 8 July 2022, the Secretary of the Malaysian Bar was served with a similar notice. All four members declined to give any statements to PDRM.
The Malaysian Bar had earlier denounced the authoritarian, arbitrary, and disproportionate attitude exhibited by PDRM, and we have stated that we will not countenance their transgression. In response to PDRM’s actions, the President and Secretary of the Malaysian Bar, Rajen Devaraj, and Roger Chan on 19 September 2022 collectively filed a Judicial Review application in the High Court of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur against the Chief of Police, Officer in Charge of the Dang Wangi Police District, Government of Malaysia and others (collectively known as “Defendants”) challenging the validity of notices issued under section 111 of the CPC against the four members.
Upon service of the Judicial Review application on the Defendants on 20 September 2022, the Officer in Charge of the Dang Wangi Police District immediately issued letters on 26 September 2022 stating that their investigation papers were referred to the Attorney General’s Chambers and the decision given was “NFA”, which means “No Further Action.” As the matter was rendered academic in light of PDRM’s decision not to further pursue the case, the aforesaid Judicial Review application was discontinued by the Malaysian Bar on 13 October 2022.
Notwithstanding this turn of event, the Malaysian Bar’s pursuit of justice continues. We maintain our position that the actions of PDRM were wrongful and reprehensible. The Malaysian Bar has thus initiated separate legal proceeding against the Officer in Charge of the Dang Wangi Police District, PDRM, the Inspector General of Police, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Government of Malaysia, and one other defendant for, among others, breach of statutory duty and/or breach of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, violation of our constitutional rights under Articles 5, 8, 9 and 10 of the Federal Constitution, false imprisonment, and misfeasance in public office. This writ and statement of claim were served on the Defendants on 25 October 2022. The Defendants to the action have entered appearance on 7 November 2022. The first case management date was fixed on 22 November 2022, and the Defendants then sought for an extension of time to file their Defence on or by 22 December 2022. The Malaysian Bar is to file a Reply on or by 5 January 2023. The next case management date is fixed on 12 January 2023.
Without delving into extensive details regarding the lawsuit that was filed, the Malaysian Bar takes the view that PDRM’s flagrant disregard for the constitutional rights of the participants of the Walk, including the use of disproportionate force towards the participants and malicious intent to frustrate and restrain them from fully participating in the Walk, is wholly unacceptable and cannot be condoned.
PDRM’s misconduct harks back to the days when the police tried to “disallow” the peaceful protests organised by BERSIH in 2015.2 In the same vein, PDRM’s actions amount to misfeasance in public office by allowing the false imprisonment of the participants of the Walk to occur. This sets a dangerous precedent for future instances of peaceful public protests, and the Malaysian Bar will not stand idly by as PDRM curtails and tramples upon the fundamental rights and liberties afforded to the rakyat.
The Malaysian Bar will not rest until we obtain proper legal redress.
Karen Cheah Yee Lynn
15 December 2022
1 “Press Release | The Walk for Judicial Independence — How the Police Had Failed”, Malaysian Bar website, 24 June 2022.
2 “Press Release | Respect and Facilitate — and Not Deter — the Right to Assemble Peaceably and Without Arms”, Malaysian Bar website, 22 August 2015.