ON 17 July 2009, a group of Kampung Buah Pala residents hand-delivered a memorandum to the Bar Council expressing their concern, inter alia, that they have not been permitted to be accompanied by legal counsel of their choice in their negotiations with the Penang government over land issues.
The right of access to legal representation is a fundamental tenet of the Rule of Law and should be an unfettered right that can be freely exercised in any democratic society.
We urge the Penang government to accede to the residents’ request for their legal advisers to accompany them during all discussions.
A government that claims to be democratic and transparent, and to represent the interests of its people, must do no less.
Nicholas Aw says
I agree that generally speaking, the right of access to legal representation is a fundamental tenet of the rule of law but in the case of Kampung Buah Pala, this has to be treated with caution as there is a strong possibilty of political influence.
I rightly understand the situation the Penang CM is in. He has to tread with care. In fact, he is confronted with a Hobsonâ€™s choice. By refusing to meet the so-called lawyers who claim to represent the residents of Kampung Buah Pala, it is claimed that he has denied residents their fundamental rights but should he oblige legal representation, then there is a likelihood of irresponsible lawyers capitalising on the issue.
Perhaps the Penang government with assistance from the Bar Council could provide a list of recommended lawyers who are deemed not to have a personal interest or a political one in this matter. As it is, we have heard of some residents being prevented from meeting the CM and irresponsible people trying to disrupt negotiations by holding illegal gatherings to protest the action of the current Penang government which was actually not responsible for this fiasco in the first place.
Lim Guan Eng is in a Catch-22 situation and I hope that the residents will not be too demanding. With the help of the state governemnt, we hope that this matter can be settled amicably.
LGE talk only la. Penang state govt no money la.