Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Keep an open mind over no-confidence motion, Johor Bar told

The Star
by Nelson Benjamin

JOHOR BARU: The Malaysian Bar Council feels that the Johor Bar Committee should keep an open mind to allow discussion by members on taking a no-confidence motion against its chairman.

Council chairman Ragunath Kesavan said it was not the first time that such a motion was brought up, adding that even in the council such a motion was allowed in the past.

“So I do not see a problem with it being discussed openly by the members. Whether it is binding or not is a different matter as it is up to a committee to decide whether to resign, but members should be allowed to discuss it,” he told The Star yesterday.

Ragunath said the council would inform lawyer Norman Fernandez, (who wanted to propose the no-confidence motion), that the council would leave it to the state Bar committee to decide on the matter.

Fernandez urged Johor lawyers to attend the Extraordinary General Meeting today and called for the motion to be put forward for the members to deliberate on, adding that Section 70A(8) of the Legal Profession Act states that he was entitled to table any motion at an EGM.

He said state chairman P. Suppiah should be courageous to face such motions.

The Star had reported on Monday that trouble was brewing in the committee with an EGM called to pass a no-confidence motion against Suppiah and called for his resignation today.

The Johor Bar is the third largest bar and has almost 1,500 lawyers.

On Suppiah’s decision not to allow the motion, senior lawyer and former Bar council member Roger Tan said it was “undemocratic and unwise.”

“I am saddened that as the Chair of one of the largest state Bars in the country, Suppiah has brought disrepute to his position by not leading the way in how democracy should work in a body which espouses justice, freedom and democracy without fear and favour.”

He added that Suppiah’s argument that he was entitled by law to serve until his term expired next year was untenable.

Former Bar Council Chairman Datuk Yeo Yang Poh said no chairman worth his salt should run away from facing it, no matter how unpalatable it might be.

Datuk Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari, another former Bar Council chairman, questioned the legality of the decision of the committee meeting held on Sept 7 to disallow the motion which was reportedly chaired by Suppiah himself

Former Bar Council member Hisyam Teh Poh Teik hoped Suppiah and his committee would realise their mistake and rectify the situation so that members are not denied the right to discuss and decide on the motion.

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