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G100 lawyers: Bar chief was wrong and must apologise

February 28, 2015

Lawyers' group says Christopher Leong misled public about past prosecutions of sodomy

COMMENT

From Faidhur Rahman Abdul Hadi, via email

leongWe, the G100 who have issued the Press Statement dated 21 February 2015 against Mr Christopher Leong’s Press Release of 11 February 2015, refer to the recent Press Release dated 26 February 2015 issued by the president of the Malaysian Bar, which was entitled the ‘Bar is Pro-Rule of Law and Justice, Not Pro-Opposition or Government’.

Although a large part of the recent Press Release is on Tan Sri Shafee’s interviews and roadshows on the Federal Court judgment in Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s (DSAI) case, some parts of the press release also made indirect reference to G100’s Press Statement, which warrants clarification.

Before we venture into the needful clarification, we wish to place on record that certain questions raised by Mr Christopher Leong with regard to the continuing conduct of the public prosecutor in the DSAI trial, outside of the courts, are supported by G100 and we shall await the authorities to decide the relevant course of action, as they deem fit.

However, with regard to the G100 concerns, it is noted that in Mr Christopher Leong’s first Press Release dated 11 February 2015, there were allegations that the law used to charge and convict DSAI, twice, was “rarely used”.

It is also noted however, that in his second Press Release dated 26 February 2015 he now acknowledges the statistics from the Attorney General’s Chambers that charges under sections 377A and 377B are not at all that rarely used, which showed hundreds of cases for sections 377A and 377B and even demanded further statistics for the period prior to 2009.

Mr Christopher Leong was wrong in the first place to mislead the public that it was rarely used and therefore should gentlemanly admit to and apologise for the said error.

In relation to the law, Mr Christopher Leong previously questioned why Saiful was not charged for abetment under section 109 read together with sections 377A and 377B of the Penal Code. This according to Mr Christopher Leong creates a perception of there being persecution against DSAI. We have highlighted that under sections 377A and 377B, the only offence is the act committed by the penetrator. Thus only DSAI could have been charged for that offence and it is therefore preposterous to even suggest that Saiful should be charged for abetting a crime which he could not have committed as not being the penetrator. This should have been clarified by Mr Christopher Leong.

Nevertheless, in the new statement, Mr Christopher Leong is now attempting to wriggle his way out by arguing instead that Saiful should be charged under section 377D of the Penal Code which is obviously a clear departure from Mr Christopher Leong’s earlier stand.

It is disheartening to see that Mr Christopher Leong is now arguing on different grounds and still not admitting he has made an obvious mistake in scandalising the courts. His first statement of the 11th was clearly made in reference to the judiciary. Many who had read it also clearly believed he had referred to the judiciary. For example among the public comments following his statements at The Malaysian Insider are as follows (see
http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/glaring-anomalies-fuel-perception-of-persecution-of-anwar-says-bar-chief):

“In the midst of all the commotion yesterday, I happened to see a photograph of five men wearing strange looking costumes and names with dubious honorifics added to as prefixes. They all looked more like clowns or court-jesters!!!”

“The FC judgement is as predictable as Monday will come after Sunday….”

“Yes, why only Anwar was found guilty for sodomy under Section 377A and 377B when both were participating in the act as stated in the court judgement? ….
The judges cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. The word “whosoever” covers both the sodomiser and the sodomised but clearly one was sent to jail and another is free. Didn’t the judge say that consent is not necessary? If this is not an clear act of persecution and proof of the judges’ bias, I don’t know what is.”

“It seems like the judges behaved like horses with their blinkers on and charged Anwar without looking to the left and right of the offence….”

These are all public comments from readers of his statement. Mr Christopher Leong knew or ought to have reasonably known the effect of his statement would bring the courts into disrepute, and without doubt it has. He has a duty to defend the judiciary from being scandalised without basis.

Further, Mr Christopher Leong has yet to explain in what way his statement was not intended to refer to the judiciary as he had clearly said DSAI had been prosecuted and CONVICTED twice and the statement clearly had involved the judiciary in that DSAI would not have been convicted but for the involvement of the judiciary.

This is not “pro rule of law or justice”. The judiciary has not been served fairly and with justice. His duty was to clarify the decision based on the written judgment, and not to try the case by media, which he did instead.

We do therefore, reiterate our call made in our first press release dated 21 February 2015 namely to demand that Mr Christopher Leong, as President of the Malaysian Bar, immediately retract his Press Release of 11 February 2015, and tender a public apology to the judiciary in respect thereof and communicate the same to all international bodies and entities.

*Faidhur Rahman Abdul Hadi is a member of the G100 group of lawyers*

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