THE Malaysian Bar is alarmed and perturbed that the police continue to harass and intimidate lawyers by calling them in for questioning on matters relating to the execution of their professional duties.
Most recently, lawyer Chan Kok Keong was served a Section 111 notice that was silent as to the subject he would be questioned about. At the interview, he was asked regarding an affidavit that had been affirmed by his client, former Perak assembly speaker V Sivakumar, in a suit where Chan is representing the said client. Lawyers representing Chan in this matter were themselves informed that they would be required to give statements if they wished to accompany Chan at the interview.
Such questioning makes a complete mockery of the fundamental principle of solicitor-client confidentiality by which lawyers are bound. It shows a grave lack of respect for the criminal justice system, as the solicitor-client privilege lies at the core of this system.
This harassment must stop if we are indeed committed to the principle of access to justice and to the rule of law. It is internationally recognised that lawyers perform a vital function when they act for their clients in the pursuit of justice, and that they must be permitted to carry out these functions freely.
We urge the police to immediately stop such unwarranted action whereby officers continue to call in lawyers representing clients, to have their statements recorded.
Further, we call on the police to respect the rule of law, which includes the right to legal access and the right, recognised in law, to legal representation without the undue harassment and intimidation of lawyers carrying out their duties as officers of the court.
16 June 2009