THE Malaysian Bar is appalled that the office of the law firm representing the Herald suffered a break-in that was discovered this morning. If this incident is related to their role in the ongoing case involving the Herald, it is a clear case of harassment and coercion of the lawyers concerned, who are the latest targets of various reprehensible attacks.
We are dismayed at the stark lack of respect for the fundamental right of any person or group to take any matter to the courts for determination and resolution. Both litigants and their lawyers must be protected from any form of intimidation in the exercise of this right. Advocates and solicitors must be allowed to advance their client’s case without fear or favour in the course of fulfilling their professional obligations. Any harassment of litigants and their lawyers in the exercise of their rights and duties respectively is an affront to the dignity of the courts and the administration of justice.
We have pledged to uphold the Federal Constitution and to respect the Rule of Law. We must all abide by this undertaking, which includes abiding by judicial decisions. Criticism and dissent are legitimate forms of expression, but threats, coercion, intimidation or violence are unacceptable.
We call on the police to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into this incident, and accord it the highest priority. It is internationally recognised that lawyers perform a vital function when they act for their clients in the pursuit of justice, and they must be permitted to carry out these functions freely. Bullying tactics must not go unchecked.
We strongly urge that all parties respect the basic and vital right to seek redress in a court of law, which should be an unfettered right that can be exercised unreservedly in any democratic society. We must never regress to a position where we sacrifice this principle for political mileage or self-interest.
14 Jan 2010