Walk for Judicial Independence protesters disappointed, rights being denied

17 Jun 2022 02:45pm
The Malaysian Bar members had gathered and held placards for the Walk for Judicial Independence at Padang Merbok, here today.
The Malaysian Bar members had gathered and held placards for the Walk for Judicial Independence at Padang Merbok, here today.

KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian Bar “Walk for Judicial Independence” programme that took place at Padang Merbok today has left protesters gutted as their rights in handing out the memorandum to the Parliament was denied by the police.

As the protesters were starting to move this morning, police were seen to be forming a human barricade by linking their arms together from every direction of the protest compound to stop the participant from walking to the Parliament.

However, there was no physical violence reported between the crowd and the police.

Segambut member of Parliament Hannah Yeoh when met at the gathering said it was considered a huge event as lawyers were seldomly involved in such scenes.

“Lawyers seldomly go out so this is a huge event as they are making a serious statement and they just want to make sure that the judicial independence is preserved.

“The investigation on judges must be done transparently, not according to some weird political reports,” she told Sinar Daily.

She further added that despite people being fearful of Covid-19, the overwhelming crowds today indicated that the issue was a serious concern that affects practitioners and lawyers as they were looking forward to seeing judiciary independence being observed.

“These are all professional lawyers, why would you stop lawyers from walking to the Parliament?” she questioned.

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During the programme, Muar Member of Parliament Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman was also at the ground, to show his support as he said it was his duty to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.

“I think what is clear is that the Malaysian Bar and lawyers here are law-abiding citizens who have requested their democratic right to express themselves to walk peacefully, to send the memorandum to the Parliament.

“I have been in many protests before but after (such) a long time, I think this is a good walk to justice,” he said when approached by Sinar Daily.

Syed Saddiq also said that every citizen has the right to have a free and fair judiciary.

Meanwhile, former Malaysian Bar member Ravinder Singh Dhalliwal said it would be better for the memorandum to be surrendered at the Parliament and that he was disappointed that the police restricted the walk when it has already been done multiple times in the past.

“We followed their instructions, we never disrupted the public and it doesn't make any sense why we would do that today on the 4th walk.

“Above that, lawyers are fighting for whom?(All) We are asking (is) that if you are carrying out an investigation, just do it in the right way,” he said.

Infuriated with anger, Siti Zabedah Kassim who is also the Malaysian Bar member said it should stand firmer in protecting their rights.

She also pointed out that Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin should have talked things out with the police.

“Whoever this person from the Parliament should tell the police to let us go for the walk instead of coming here to accept the memorandum.

“I'm angry and this is disgusting, they are stopping us from practicing our constitutional rights as the walk is something we must do to show our protest with the way our judges are being investigated.

“I hope people will start to stand up for their rights because if you do so, nobody can oppress you and treat you as a joke and what's happening here is a joke on us as the people,” she said.

Due to the restrictions by the police, Mas Ermieyati went to Padang Merbok to receive the memorandum on behalf of the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri, instead of the crowd walking to the Parliament to hand over the memorandum.

In the memorandum, the group had listed four demands which were for the judiciary’s independence to be upheld, for the government to preserve the confidence of the public in our judicial system, to condemn the action of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and a possible legislative reform to set the parameters so that allegations against sitting judges can be done in a manner which does not erode judicial confidence.

During the gathering, the crowd was heard chanting "Buka "Buka, Buka Jalan" and "Bebas, Bebas, Bebas Kehakiman" to the police to allow them to walk to the Parliament but the efforts were futile. The crowd could also be heard singing national anthem "Negaraku" and read "Rukun Negara" in unison.

The call for independence of the judiciary was made following MACC’s probe against Nazlan was made following a report about an unexplained sum of more than RM1 million in his bank account.

Nazlan was the high court judge and had convicted former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak of abuse of power, corruption and money laundering.

Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat has said the criticism of the judiciary has gone overboard.

The investigation papers have been submitted to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for further action.

The Bar had said constitutional procedures should be followed in the probe, contending that the Federal Constitution provides for complaints about alleged judicial misconduct to be handled in a manner that ensures continued public confidence in the judiciary.