KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 – The Bar Council’s annual general meeting (AGM) began this morning with an unprecedented attendance of some 1,600 members, believed to be due to a motion to censure outgoing president Christopher Leong for critical remarks against the judiciary over the Federal Court’s verdict on opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Past AGMs have typically drawn an attendance of around 700 members with few pressing issues. The quorum required is 500 people.
The 69th Bar Council AGM, taking place at the Renaissance Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, began proceedings at 10am and the number of attendees continued to increase as the hours progressed. Another 400 are expected to arrive for debates on the motions. The motion against Leong includes a call for the president to retract his press release dated February 11, the day after the Federal Court’s verdict on Anwar, in which he said the trial was a persecution of the opposition leader.
Leong has also been asked to apologise to the judiciary for bringing it into contempt. The motion was proposed by Faidhur Rahman Abdul Hadi and seconded by Aidil Khalid. Leong has also been criticised by a group of 100 lawyers who have been issuing press statements to publicly pressure Leong over his remarks against the judiciary following Anwar’s conviction. Another controversial motion the Bar members will debate today is to revoke a resolution to abolish the Sedition Act 1948, taken at the Bar’s emergency general meeting in September last year. This motion is believed to have been proposed and seconded by those aligned to the same group of 100 lawyers who are calling for Leong’s censure.
Former Bar Council presidents Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and Ragunath Kesavan have respectively proposed and seconded a motion to retain the decision made at the EGM regarding the Sedition Act. Leong, who is chairing the AGM, presented the minutes from the last AGM and the financial report for 2014/2015. The meeting today is expected to debate 11 motions, as listed in the agenda. The “heated” debate of the motion to censure Leong has been going on for the past hour and has yet to be voted on. A press conference is expected later today once the AGM is over.