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Amid storm over Zahid, all silent on the Bar front

Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah Yee Lynn, who previously questioned the conduct of Najib Razak's defence team, has remained silent in the face of the storm.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah Yee Lynn. Photo: Facebook
Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah Yee Lynn. Photo: Facebook

Silence seemed to be the order of the day for the Malaysian Bar, known in the past for being outspoken on issues affecting the judiciary, even as the storm continues in the wake of the controversial move by the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) to halt proceedings in the corruption trial of Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

In the two days since the High Court granted the AGC's request to give Zahid a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA), lawyers such as Ambiga Sreenevasan, Rafique Rashid, Zaid Ibrahim, Latheefa Koya, and a handful of others have openly criticised the move.

But MalaysiaNow's attempts to get comments from other lawyers who have criticised previous governments and the AGC over high-profile cases have been met with silence.

Attempts to get comments from the Malaysian Bar, meanwhile, have been met with no response, with questions sent two days ago to its president, Karen Cheah Yee Lynn, still unanswered.

It is a far cry from the Bar's reaction to what it called attempts to delay the trial of former leader Najib Razak, where it criticised the defence over a last-minute change of lawyers ahead of the Federal Court appeal for the SRC International case.

"The various attempts to undermine the justice system through such unscrupulous strategies are a perversion of our justice system and an abuse of the court process," Cheah said in a statement on Aug 19 last year.

Her comments drew strong reactions from Najib's legal team, who demanded an apology from Cheah.

At press time, a check on the website of the Malaysian Bar showed no statement on the AGC's decision to apply for the DNAA for Zahid, despite a prima facie case established for the 47 charges against him, for which he was called to enter defence.

Cheah's last statement was a call to repeal the Printing Presses and Publications Act following recent actions over watch brand Swatch's LGBT-themed products, as well as raids on a bookshop.

Cheah had also wasted no time in condemning Dr Mahathir Mohamad in July after the former prime minister questioned the constitutionality of calling Malaysia a multiracial country, accusing him of fanning hatred.

In the same month, the Bar invited Anwar Ibrahim to deliver a keynote address at the International Malaysia Law Conference, where its former president Christopher Leong showered praise on the prime minister, saying he was an inspiration to ordinary Malaysians who believe in the "principles of justice, liberty, and equity".

Meanwhile, Anwar, in his speech, said he would not interfere in matters of the judiciary.

"Not only have I not encroached upon even a single inch of this sacred terrain, but that I shall defend, at all costs, the independence of the judiciary," he said.