Yesterday (17 June), about 500 lawyers gathered near Parliament to protest against the recent attacks on a Court of Appeal judge, which is seen as a move to subvert the judiciary’s independence.
According to Malay Mail, the walk was organised by the Malaysian Bar and the group had voiced out against the rampant online vitriols launched against one of the judges that found former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak guilty of embezzling funds from a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) subsidiary.
Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah said the walk is meant to send a loud message to those who attempted to intimidate the judiciary and overrule the conviction.
Hundreds of lawyers led by Bar Council president Karen Cheah were blocked from walking to the parliament . Heavy police presence at Padang Merbok. Lawyers insist on exercising their right to march to uphold judicial independence . pic.twitter.com/PgsxfFezDy— Melissa Goh (@MelGohCNA) June 17, 2022
It was reported that the group initially planned to march peacefully to Parliament but they were stopped by the police who refused to allow them to proceed, citing the Peaceful Assembly Act that had been sternly disputed.
Following some negotiations, the police allowed only 20 lawyers to walk Parliament from Padang Merbok.
The Malaysian Bar has been blocked by PDRM from marching to Parliament. This is a violation of our Freedom of Assembly under the Federal Constitution and the Peaceful Assembly Act. We will not let this slide and will take legal action against PDRM. #WFJI pic.twitter.com/vIEDpBUIzg— Sin Yew (@S_Y_New) June 17, 2022
Meanwhile, Cheah suggested that the Malaysian Bar may act against the blockade but did not specify how.
“We will know exactly what to do in terms of our legal recourse against the authorities who have stopped us from exercising our constitutional rights,” she said.
The walk ended at 11.15 am after the Bar Council president handed over a memorandum to the deputy law minister Mas Ermieyati Samsudin.
The deputy minister accepted a memorandum and said she would hand it over to Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
Meanwhile, Cheah said it is against this very background that the Malaysian Bar had decided to take to the streets and prepare a memorandum.
“The memorandum has four demands,” she said.
“The government must uphold judiciary independence, preserve the confidence of the public in the judicial system, condemn the actions of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, and legislative reforms where alleged judicial misconduct be investigated in a manner that ensures continued public judicial confidence.”