By Shanmuga K. | LoyarBurok

And so my friend Edmund Bon has stirred up a hornet’s nest yet again. That guy really doesn’t give a damn — he just speaks his mind, and to hell with it!

And now, apparently, he’s getting some flak for voicing out what 99% of lawyers think already — the Bar Council (many of whose members are my friends) are just too damn scared to do anything about the state of the administration of justice.

Almost every single lawyer I know complains about the things he has raised.

Of course, Tun Zaki does not know this — the lawyers he’s spoken to mostly love his reforms. But then again, he’s the bloody CJ! Of course, when we speak to him we will only tell him nice things.

It’s human nature not to annoy the big boss with disconcerting information about his pet project.

And since I began practice, most lawyers have felt disconnected from members of the Bar Council. Each year, about a quarter of lawyers (probably less) vote in elections. Even less turn up for State Bar AGMs.


The answer is quite simply that the Bar Council is totally irrelevant to their day-to-day practice. There is clearly a disconnect between the Bar Council as an entity and the lawyers who make up the Malaysian Bar.

Everyone (in the corridors of power) is probably harrumphing over the impropriety of airing one’s dirty linen in public. How dare Bon do this in a press interview?

(Here, I share their sentiment — surely he should have at least written an open letter on this, Malaysia’s leading blawg! But I understand that FMT conducted a long interview with him and this was only one part of that interview about his future plans.)

Then again, I know that Edmund has been complaining about these things for a long time. He has privately voiced his frustrations many times, and raised these issues at Bar Council meetings. To no avail.

He obviously had his reasons.

We all realise that the Bar Council exists for a limited purpose, and cannot solve all the problems lawyers face.

But all those people must also realise that if they stand for election to the Bar Council, it means they are saying they are willing to do the dirty job that other lawyers do not want to do. It means they agree to stand up to the powers that be, and that they will fight the lawyer’s corner sometimes when they are busy protecting the public interest.

If they don’t do that, and fail to show their electorate that they are doing that, they will face the same old lethargy that they face every year and the same complaints — now on FacebookTwitter, and in the blogosphere – that they are beginning to see now.