The Malaysian Bar, which is fighting attempts to erode its independence, is the first recipient of an award by the International Association of Lawyers (UIA), its president Steven Thirun announced today.
He said the award was in recognition of the Bar’s strong and unfailing commitment to the defence and promotion of human rights and the rule of law in Malaysia.
“The Bar is truly humbled and honoured by this generous recognition by the UIA, particularly at this critical time for us.
“It will certainly serve to further strengthen our resolve and galvanise us in our efforts to repulse the attempts to interfere with our independence,” he said at the opening of the International Malaysia Law Conference.
Steven said he received a letter two days ago from the UIA that the award would be presented to the Bar representative at its 60th annual congress in Budapest, Hungary.
He said the UIA had stated it would support and encourage the Bar for its courageous stand for the core values of the legal profession that the association also promotes and defends.
He said the Bar’s campaign opposing the proposals — “Hands off the Malaysian Bar” — had garnered global support from 19 international and national law organisations and countless local civil society groups.
The government is expected to table amendments to the Legal Profession Act that will radically alter the elections of Bar Council members and reduce the voting rights of members.
It also seeks to impose punitive quorum requirements for general meetings and allow for non-elected government representatives to sit in the Bar Council.
Key office bearers of the Bar Council have been on a nationwide tour to explain to the 17,000 lawyers the implications of the amendments.