A lawyer has endorsed five candidates for the upcoming Bar Council election on the basis that they allegedly support the “Malay-Muslim cause”, but denied this was racist in nature.
Aidil Khalid confirmed that he made the endorsement in a WhatsApp message intended for a private group, explaining that he wanted greater diversity in the Bar Council and stressed that fighting for the Malay-Muslim cause did not mean leaving out the fight for others.
“What I said was that I think those five are the candidates that might be good for the Malay-Muslim cause. I did not mention anything against the Chinese, Indian communities to marginalise them and so on. So in no way can my message be construed to be racist.
“And the reason that I sent out the message is because I think there needs to be more diverse representation in the Bar Council, so as to balance the current trend in the Bar Council where there seems to be a bit [of] opposition against attempts to strengthen Shariah (law and courts) within the constitutional legal framework, including like Act 355 and hudud,” the lawyer told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday.
Act 355 refers to the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965. PAS is trying to push through a private member’s Bill to amend Act 355 in order to expand the limit of punishments that Shariah courts can impose.
Aidil said he did not mean that there were not enough Malays and Muslims in the Bar Council, but that their stand may not be in favour of Shariah laws.
Aidil’s WhatsApp message, which has since been circulated online, urges other lawyers to vote for five Bar Council candidates whom he claimed “supports the Malay-Muslim cause”: Abu Daud Abd Rahim, Faidhur Rahman Abd Hadi, Kee Mohd Thariq K Zainal Abidin, Mohd Amir Sharil Bahari and Muhammad Faisal Moideen.
He conceded that he does not know their viewpoints on issues such as hudud, but said he suggested their names based on their profile and the identity of those who had proposed them.
Aidil is the campaign coordinator for the Concerned Lawyers for Justice (CLJ) group, but said he made the endorsement in his personal capacity, and clarified that none of the five lawyers instructed him to do so or knew that he would be endorsing them.
He also claimed none of the five are currently members of the CLJ.
Lawyer Muhammad Faisal, who was one of the five endorsed, said he was independent and clarified that he is standing for the Bar Council election to “represent all members irrespective of their religion and race”.
“My objective to run is to serve all members of the Bar, not specific groups or specific interests, because ultimately when you serve all members of the Bar, every specific group — all their interests will be taken care of,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted.
Highlighting that many lawyers appear to be uninterested in the Bar elections, he said he wants to reach out to all lawyers and look into how the Bar Council can assist them.
Mohd Amir similarly confirmed that he is not a CLJ member and responded by saying: “Thank you for the endorsement but this is not what I stand for. I stand for education for everyone.”
“So if you look into my Bar Council candidacy, actually I’m a trainer who does training for every legal practitioner. That means I work with everybody,” he told Malay Mail Online, adding that he believes in improving lawyers’ knowledge through effective training.
Abu Daud went a step further to say he did not know Aidil and rejected the latter’s description of him as a supporter of the Malay-Muslim cause.
“Why should one race and one religion be singled out in a cause? It is enough damage caused by Umno in the name of Malay and riding on the sentiment of Islam.
“Actually I agreed to have my name nominated but it is not on the platform of any faction. I am a lawyer. I believe in practising law without fear or favour, without any preference of any race or religion… I support justice without fear or favour, not favouring Malay or Muslims and not fearing any implication from any authorities, that’s what I believe in,” he told Malay Mail Online, adding that he will champion the Malaysian Bar’s motto of upholding justice through law without fear or favour.
Yes, we fight for Malay-Muslim cause
Lawyer Faidhur Rahman, formerly part of CLJ but now the CEO of the Young Professionals (YP) group, confirmed that he is fighting for the Malay-Muslim cause, but asserted that it is “only as part of a wider cause, not exclusively”.
“I welcome the endorsement and I believe it’s not because I am fighting specifically for Malay-Muslims, but I’m fighting for wider cause as well. The Malay-Muslim cause is in response to the Bar Council’s rejection of strengthening of Shariah laws, for example the Shariah court amendment Bill, that is the key example,” he told Malay Mail Online.
Faidhur Rahman claimed the Malay-Muslim lawyers currently sitting in the Bar Council “do not articulate the views held by a wide segment of Malay-Muslims in the Malaysian Bar”, saying that many of the latter do not believe Malaysia to be secular and that they support the strengthening of the Shariah courts.
“The Bar Council I believe has no diverse representation because it’s been issuing statements representing people who are liberally inclined and believe Malaysia is a secular state. So I want to run for the Bar Council to ensure there is more diverse representation and different views on the Bar,” he said, adding that he wants to help abolish the Continuing Professional Development scheme and simplify the annual membership renewal process.
Kee Mohd Thariq, who confirmed he is both a CLJ and YP member, said that he is campaigning to be voted into the Bar Council to address issues that would affect both Malay-Muslim lawyers and other lawyers.
“Because I’m a Malay, I’m a Muslim, so of course Malay-Muslim agenda is also part of my agenda. Not to say that I’m against other races or religions, because people think when you are fighting for Malay Muslims, you are going to abandon other races or religions. That’s not it.
“As a Malay-Muslim lawyer, I believe we also have a right to voice out on behalf of this segment in there because I feel that they are under-represented in the Bar Council. We need a bigger voice because some of our concerns are not being addressed,” he told Malay Mail Online.
“We also want things that are beneficial for all lawyers. It’s not that we are just focusing on one issue. We acknowledge all the bread and butter issues that affect the legal profession. It’s part and parcel of our cause,” he said, citing the review of lawyers’ fees, voicing out the need for Islam to be respected due to its constitutional position and strengthening of Shariah law as examples.
There are 22 candidates in the running to be on the Bar Council for the 2017/2018 term, with voting through postal votes to be concluded by November 30.
Source :IDA LIM@The Heat Malaysia Online