Lawyers pull balancing act in Bar Council election

KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyers in the country appear to have pulled off a balancing act in electing an equal number of direct members from two opposing camps to manage the 2020/2021 Bar Council.

Of the 12 council members elected yesterday, six are from the “Star” team: Hendon Mohamed, Roger Tan Kor Mee, Karen Cheah Yee Lynn, New Sin Yew, Honey Tan Lay Ean and HR Dipendra.

The other six – Salim Bashir, Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali, Mohamad Ezri Abdul Wahab, Yusfarizal Yussoff, Murshidah Mustafa and Syazlin Mansor – are from the “One Bar For All” team.

“Those elected in the direct election are a mixture of the two teams,” Salim, the incumbent secretary, told FMT.

A total of 35 candidates contested in the polls with 19,975 ballot papers issued. Of these, 6,055 were returned.

Long-time council members Andrew Khoo Chin Hock and Ravi Nekko, who was also the Bar treasurer, were voted out, along with Lukman Sheriff Alias, a one-term council member.

Syazlin, who withdrew from the inquest into the death of Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim but later returned to represent the fireman’s family, was a surprise inclusion.

On Nov 5, FMT reported that campaigns for the election to pick the 12 council members were heating up, with candidates turning to social media and forming camps to gain support from lawyers in the country.

Former council chairman Ragunath Kesavan said he knew of at least two groups reaching out for support for election to the council.

He said one group brands itself as progressive and secular while the other is endorsed by an Islamist faction.

The new council will consist of the 12 members elected yesterday as well as the immediate past president and vice-president, the chairman of each of the 12 state Bar committees, and 12 state Bar representatives.

The term of the 38 current council members will expire at the next annual general meeting (AGM) scheduled for March 14, 2020.

Key office bearers – the president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer – are elected from among the 38 immediately after the AGM.