Categorised | Letters to the Editor

Police mockery of right to legal access

THE Malaysian Bar strongly condemns the arrest last night of five lawyers at the Brickfields police station who were there to represent their clients. 

We are shocked and disgusted by this blatant transgression of the rule of law.  By their action, the police personnel in question have demonstrated utter disrespect and blatant disregard for the criminal justice system that they are duty-bound to uphold and protect.  They have violated the specific provisions in the Criminal Procedure Code guaranteeing access to lawyers.  Although there is an exception to this provision, it cannot by any stretch of the imagination be turned into a right to arrest lawyers who are waiting to render legal representation to their clients. 

The police action makes an absolute mockery of the constitutional right to legal representation and is a travesty of justice.  We call on the Inspector-General of Police to immediately explain this gross abuse of police power.

This unprecedented conduct by the police has far-reaching consequences. It means arrested persons can be denied access to their lawyers without challenge. And when their lawyers are denied access and are forced to wait outside the police station, the lawyers themselves are at risk of arrest.

We acknowledge all our colleagues who have come to the aid and defence of those arrested by the police simply because they have chosen to exercise their fundamental right to assemble peaceably.

We salute our colleagues from the Kuala Lumpur Legal Aid Centre — Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, Murnie Hidayah Anuar, Puspawati Rosman, Ravinder Singh Dhalliwal and Syuhaini Safwan — who, without regard for their own safety and well-being, voluntarily went to the aid of those arrested, only to be arrested themselves. They have exhibited great courage and by their actions have demonstrated the highest standards of the Malaysian Bar. Their exemplary sense of duty and professionalism stands in stark contrast to the despicable conduct of the police.    

Ragunath Kesavan
Malaysian Bar

8 May 2009

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One Response to “Police mockery of right to legal access”

  1. Fikri Roslan says:

    I am not sure whether Sdr Kesavan has given the full picture of the real situation. If police can just simply arrest people or lawyers without clear justification, then this country has gone down the drain a long time ago. In my understanding police will arrest people, including lawyers, if there is a case to do so. Sdr Kesavan, therefore, should give a better picture about the real situation before he condemns the act done by police. I know many lawyers who feel they know better than others about law, therefore should be treated with respect. Well, I am just orang kampung and have a very simple principle – If you create problems, then you should be penalised. Lawyers are no different from other people – they are not above the law.

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