Some of you may have heard of the arrest of 5 lawyers from the Legal Aid Council in connection with the arrests of 20 or so other people holding a candelight vigil for the detained political activist, Wong Chin Huat. The lawyers were freed the next day but the fact they were arrested at all was astounding.
It is disturbing that these lawyers, were arrested when they were attempting to see those arrested to give legal advice. The police had acted over the top in this situation, I think. You can read the recounts of the events by these lawyers at the Malaysian Bar website.
The Bar yesterday held an Extraordinary General Meeting to discuss these issues and what steps its going to take. Over a thousand lawyers showed up and the decision was unanimous. They condemn the arrest totally and even demanded the resignation of the Minister of Home Affairs and the IGP amongst other things. The resolution of the EGM can also be read on the website.
Personally, I do not condone the act of the police in arresting those five lawyers. These lawyers are there to render legal assistance; a fundamental right of all Malaysians. The act came across as high handed and even abusive. They should have handled the situation with more finesse.
However there is something which I find strange and I feel that should be noted: the LAC lawyers had went to the police station right after those people were arrested. This was about 9pm at night. In my life, I never knew that LAC lawyers worked beyond normal working hours and acting with such alacrity. Furthermore Legal Aid is usually given if the person passes the means test. To hear that lawyers from Legal Aid showing up with such vigour and enthusiasm that seems to be above and beyond their scope of work puzzles me.
It is true that the legal profession should always stand up for civil rights and liberties but I am lead to think that the legal profession is being manipulated by unknown parties with a hidden agenda. Well, this is all speculation from me, and this conspiracy theory may well be just a theory, but I’m taking all that has happened with a pinch of salt. I just pray that our country stays peaceful and harmonious.