Bar Council to face the music?

According to a Bernama report, the Home Ministry has been given a free hand by Prime Minister Abdullah to decide on what action, if at all, to take against the Bar Council for having organised the controversial ‘Conversion to Islam’ forum last Saturday. And the Ministry may also consider employing the draconian ISA and Sedition Act for this purpose.

Is this ringing the knell of future dialogues — given that there have also been calls made by certain individuals, NGOs and political parties from both sides of the political divide to invoke the two pieces of legislation against promoters of such initiatives? (In a sense, these people collectively are lending legitimacy to the very laws that some of them had questioned in recent past.)

Incidentally, there was no comment at all from Abdullah about the street protest that accompanied the forum in Kuala Lumpur.

Could this possibly be indicative of an eventual willingness on the part of the government to recognise that street protest is part of democracy and ‘our culture’ — even though, in this case, it could be aggressive or unruly to a certain extent?

Below is an extract of that Bernama report:

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 11 (BERNAMA) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Monday that he would leave it to the Home Ministry to decide whether to take action against the Bar Council including using the Internal Security Act and Sedition Act for organising the “Conversion to Islam” forum in the federal capital on Saturday which caused a tense situation to arise.

“I leave it to the Home Ministry to study what happened, and if there is concrete evidence, the ministry will decide on what action to take,” he said when asked about calls by various quarters for the government to invoke the acts against the Bar Council.

Speaking to reporters after chairing the inaugural meeting of the National Economic Council at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre here, Abdullah said he hoped such forums would not be organised in future.

“Issues concerning religion are very sensitive. Matters (on religion) are already spelt out… there is no need for discussions,” he said, adding that between having and not having them, it was better to opt for the latter.



15 Responses to “Bar Council to face the music?”

  1. 1 khalaai 12 August 2008 at 12:32 am

    the problem is not Islam. we as malaysians respect every religion in malaysia. i think the protesters misunderstood the forum. even our political BN leaders never understood its contents. i’m very suprised that our leaders could suggest ISA to be implemented. our neighbour countries will laugh if they get to know this. so pls leaders think before you act.

  2. 2 fatguysam 12 August 2008 at 12:50 am

    ISA is also to be implemented against the Bar Council because of such SMALL MATTER? Are UMNO leaders crazy actually? What a shame again!!! We just intend to understand one another in religious matters truly with open mind. How do we face the world outside on behalf of Malaysians anyway? These leaders are stupid and stubborn like that……!!!!

  3. 3 tzarina 12 August 2008 at 1:43 am

    Dumb protesters, and dumb government.

    So they think the only solution for them to remain relatively intelligent is to dumb everyone else with ISA.

  4. 4 Antares 12 August 2008 at 4:13 am

    Hopelessly and utterly out of synch with reality. Life under the Umno tempurung makes elected leaders talk like ancient feudal lords. Umno’s rapid descent into terror!

  5. 5 daystarapostle 12 August 2008 at 8:15 am

    It is indeed sad to note the various statements made by politicians, the religious leaders and the government; statements made without wisdom and they cause fear to the citizenry.

    The forum should be held. But unfortunately, the only mistake of the Bar Council was to rush it. They should have planned it after discussions with relevant & interested parties especially the Government and the leaders of the Islamic religion.

    Fear is very dangerous. People gripped by fear can become unresonable and will not be rational in what they say and do. The Bar Council should not have evoked fear in Muslims. Good leaders must understand this. Don’t frighten or threaten the people. Use a lot of wisdom. Seek the views of all, seek their understanding. Don’t be confrontational.

    Sure, there are many issues faced by those affected by these conversions. So keep writing, keep informing the Government and other relevant authorities of their plight. Seek their cooperation and help to bring about the changes that you are seeking without frightening the Muslims. Muslims are very zealous and protective of their religion. Do not slight or threaten them. Choose the way of peace. That is my advice.

    The Bar Council is a very important institution. It commands one of the highest respect of all the institutions. Don’t let the people have a wrong perception of it or let its dignity erode by those inside or outside of it.

    So, let all right thinking & wise leaders at all levels begin the process of restoring confidence in the Government, Parliament, the Judiciary, the Bar Council, the Law Enforcement Agencies etc.

    Put the past behind and forgive. Forge ahead and make Malaysia great.
    Every single Malaysian must contribute to the peace of this Nation. HAPPY MERDEKA TO ALL.

    Rev. Dr. Thomas


  6. 6 why cares 12 August 2008 at 8:20 am

    Are the Police investigating who were behind 2 funny-looking bottles left in front of the Bar Council’s main entrance?

    Who premeditated the 2 molotovs at Sharizat’s bungalow ?

    Let’s see what has transpired?

  7. 7 shanu 12 August 2008 at 8:39 am

    “Issues concerning religion are very sensitive. Matters (on religion) are already spelt out… there is no need for discussions,” he said, adding that between having and not having them, it was better to opt for the latter.” says our esteemed PM

    Excuse me? Matters on religion are already spelt out? Since when?
    We still have timid non-Muslim husbands conveniently converting to Islam to bypass divorce in the civil courts and worse, they convert their young children as well effectively gaining custody of them. Not only is the non-Muslim wife left in the lurch she has to undergo the turmoil of losing her child as well. Is this what Islam is about?

    How come one parent gets to change the religion of his child without the consent of the other parent when “issues concerning religion are very sensitive”. Doesn’t this smack of double standards, Mr. PM?

    The truth is when there are legal issues concerning converts and their children, the law is murky. That is a FACT !!!!! Sweeping issues under the carpet does NOT help any. We need to find a resolution, NOT bury our heads in the sand.

    When you have a serious medical problem, pretending it doesn’t exist will not save you. It needs to be treated. Ditto the issues w.r.t. conversion.

  8. 8 amoker 12 August 2008 at 8:45 am

    I chance upon the main page of Utusan yesterday and seemed that they are egging ISA against the BAR council. Go ahead and do it. It will bode well with Rais Yatim’s trip to countries to assure other nations that our judiaciary ( and legal) system are of the highest standing. Is the government setting up the Bar council to nullify them in the face of the Anwar sham?

  9. 9 Davy de Verteuil of Trinidad and Tobago 12 August 2008 at 8:57 am

    Bar Council hates Islam…Stop the condescending, Malays! who says 13,000 members are a powerful group? Is it because they are lawyers or is it because they are against Islam?

    Malaysiakini Headline is meant to Grandstand this group to frighten Native Malays in surrendering their traditions and rights.

    I agree there may be need changes, changes in attitudes, in the way people behave towards each other though it must not be confused with the protection and guaranties under the constitution – this isn’t pro or opposition politicising its about native people’s places that can be altered like ours in the Americas where the lawyers and business people incidentally are migrants bent on having everything go their way – they are calling it democracy and a host of sounding clichés yet always refer to the natives as backward as they press-on.

    Read and LISTEN to the “their” Blogs you will hear and feel their TONE which is a manifestation from their procrastinators and the deep seated dislikes.

    It is a similar situation going on in Bolivia right now and they believe that their power lies in their economic empowerment and their proximity in numbers dominating your legal fraternity against the majority.

    They deem consensus through legal blackmail and not through your parliamentary system, the legislature which they seek to limit.

    They never rise on behalf of the nation but in favour of themselves which incidentally tints of racist aggrandizement.

    Take a good look at the make up! Ask yourself, which nation they seek to unite who are they representing?

    The BC is acting as though the nation will evaporate because of its current make up therefore they hope to engineer a run on the constitution.

    They are bullying both the opposition and the incumbent for changes that will suit them only and they are fully aware as to who will benefit.

    They are acting as though they want to run the country from the BAR.

    In effect they are forming a party with the intention of commanding Malaysia’s constitutional and legal authority.
    They are as compromised as the Judiciary they now seek to distance itself from. Why now?

    They have pushed the Malays out and set a course which ultimately is to eradicate Islam from the common law and Constitution and Malaysiakini is emboldening them.

    It is convenient for these opportunist to act as champions for the Natives in West Malaysia as these are the natives they periodically attempt to assimilate but at the end of the day the natives is who is being threatened. Mark my words!

    Sooner rather than later native Malays will scoff with a passion at Malaysiakini as the enabler of hatred and disenfranchisement of the Native Malay peoples.

    Governing Malaysia will be a balancing act which elements of the BC lack the ability as their aggressiveness toward Malays disguised in the purported mindset as legal practitioners tantamount to the US criticism of Russia defending its territory against Western backed forces from Georgia. Look at the audacity: US warns Russia of the disproportionate use of force while Georgia escapes admonition for being the aggressor. “Georgia” started the war.

    lets stop the hypocrisies here, the BC Forum is/was one in many attempts to chip away at Malay customs and rights enshrined in the Nation’s constitution nothing short of such and they (BC) know fully that is what they intended.

    Has anyone ever asked, why aren’t the Indonesian and Philippine migrants making similar demands who incidentally witness and experience discrepancy?

    In fact certain groups are all fixed on referring to these two groups as migrants because of their similarity and proximity to Islam save a few who happen to be Christians and the calls to expel them are ignored by this same BC the so called champion of rights.

    Why have they not grandstand the atrocious abuse suffered by these two groups when employed round d clock/24/7 which has tainted Malaysia (Malaysians) as exploitative racist and abusive.

    It is well documented that 95% of such abuses aren’t committed by native Malays – so who are the culprits? Why not highlight this “phenomenon” with the same urgency for those while they are still alive.

    I am not claiming innocence on behalf of the Natives here but merely wish to point out the hypocrisies of selectivity and the real aims and agenda which in the future can destabilise and cause uglier scenes that would make that un-famous 300man demo look like a tea party.

    Why this selective conscience from this divine Bar Council and its Media advocate Malaysiakini?

    Change in attitudes and guarantees are all that is needed and not the erosion of rights at the expense of another. All parties must come to the table without grandstanding each other.

  10. 10 Maverick 12 August 2008 at 9:32 am

    Fairdinkum ,
    the illegal protesting mobs in front of the Bar Council Building are numbskulls with no apparent reasons just proving that they can manipulate the law & order which was very obviously on their side. I wonder why they were not caught initially and the fellas in uniform have to wait till the rowdy crowds swell. Surprisingly the police did not swing into action, perhaps there were not many trees around that vicinity.

  11. 11 veryupset 12 August 2008 at 10:11 am

    ok… i m very upset!

    Having a dialogue is like having a discussion. It’s NOT playing racial game like what BN & PAS did. I don’t see other races putting a demo with BN & PAS.
    Well I guess we are civilize enough…………!

    Home Ministry will decide the fate on the Bar Council BUT of course our PM would have told him to go ahead & slaughter these people.

    Since PM & DPM popularity has dropped. They will say “I didn’t make the decision!”
    U mean to say that all your MPs have free hand to do whatever..????????????????

    This is Malaysia Betul Betul Boleh…….!

  12. 12 george 12 August 2008 at 10:19 am

    The more BN UMNO play their trick and dirty plots to the nation… the more hatred the Rakyat to them…the faster their boat go sinking…

    I will make sure that my vote will come very important the next election… and u will have my strongest answer.

  13. 13 And Jos 12 August 2008 at 10:44 am

    What a sad saturday? You have a bunch of idiots who hardly know what was happening inside the auditorium. The mindset of this people have been change by mamak mahathir for the last 20 over years. As such, it will probably take another 20 years for Anwar to change their mindset to see things in a proper perspective.

    One thing to add on, the fanatics are the cause of all these things. My question is what are the true loving respected muslims doing about this? They should do something. As such, please wake up you good people, I believe there are a lot of you out there, the vast majority of them in this country are true, but too busy to act. The fanatics will teach their children the same and this will multiply and that’s what you see now of some youngsters. If these fanatics are not stopped now, they threaten our way of life. If the peaceful majority muslims don’t speak up now, than it will be too late. Pls. think about it and act fast.

  14. 14 sunwayopal 12 August 2008 at 10:48 am

    This is ridiculous.

    Why do you not ask BeeEnd component parties to make their stand also?

    Did you not see UMNO was even more virulent in the attacks on that day?

    To the idiot commentors who say don’t vote Pakatan or DSAI, what is your alternative??

    you think ultras like Hamid Albar and Najib Razak will let you have your open forums???

    DREAM ON!!!!!

  15. 15 tiada besok utk umno 15 August 2008 at 12:31 am

    Davy de Verteuil of Trinidad and Tobago’s comment is one of the fundamental problems we face today in malaysia, morons with no brains, end result of pondok kampung universities and nep. you don’t attempt to understand what the forum was about, if not the bar council, then who is going to look at the fundamental rights of citizens of this country. go and read the constitution of malaysia davy. here are some comments to put through your head, pakai lah otak yang dihadiahkan kepada kamu,
    “‘We don’t see the forum as non-Muslims encroaching into theological matters. The underpinning reason was for the legal, technical and procedural lacuna created by Article 121 (1A) to be ironed out in earnestness and intellectual integrity” – PAS Research Centre director and Kuala Selangor MP Dr Zulkifli Ahmad, as reported in Star online”
    “The forum is not about conversion per se, as the Bar Council endorses the absolute right of individuals to embrace Islam. Instead, the forum will address the ancillary issues that arise from such situations and will emphasise the need for laws and a judicial system that protects everyone equally,” – Star online reports on the statement by Bar Council vice-chairman Ragunath Kesavan.’
    here is a really good comment by haris ibrahim, ‘What Bumiputeras? What ‘hak’?

    Someone must tell them that the document that our forefathers left us with, the Federal Constitution, makes no mention of Bumiputera.

    And Article 153 talks only of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong safeguarding the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak of such proportion as he may deem reasonable of positions in the public service (other than the public service of a State) and of scholarships, exhibitions and other similar educational or training privileges or special facilities given or accorded by the Federal Government and, when any permit or licence for the operation of any trade or business is required by federal law, then, subject to the provisions of that law and this Article, of such permits and licences.

    Special position.

    Not rights and privileges.

    And that special position was envisaged by the forefathers of this nation, as explained in the Reid Commission report, to be reviewable after 15 years.

    In other words, not in perpetuity.”
    so davy what hak are you talking?

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