By Malaysian Bar
“Lawyers don’t walk every day. Not even every month. But when they walk, then something must be very wrong,” said Chairman of the Bar Council Ambiga Sreenevasan when addressing a strong crowd of more than 2,000 members of the Malaysian Bar and some concerned citizens at the Palace of Justice before the commencement of the walk to the Prime Minister’s office to hand over the Bar’s memorandum urging the government to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to probe the state of judiciary and memorandum on the establishment of a judicial appointments and promotion commission.
Earlier, seven buses ferrying members of the Bar and public from Kuala Lumpur were denied entry to Putrajaya. Frustrated with the police tactics which included sending a helicopter hovering above the crowd, Bar Councillor Edmund Bon and lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad then decided to lead the stranded numbering about 200 walking some five kilometres to the Palace of Justice.
When they arrived at about 11.30am, the group was met with a thunderous applause by those who waited patiently for them. The Walk for Justice scheduled at 11.50am then started at about 11.58am with Bar Council members leading the 2,000 plus lawyers and concerned citizens.
As they walked, they chanted various slogans led by Amer holding a loud hailer, shouting: “Who are we?” “Malaysian Bar”, the crowd roared. “What do we want?” Amer asked. “Justice” the crowd replied in unison. The humorous part was when Amer shouted, “We are doing this for the sake of the country” and the crowd replied, “Correct, Correct, Correct!” Members also received public support from passers-by who greeted them by sounding their car honks.
The heavily-armed police including the Federal Reserve Unit, however, gave their fullest cooperation with some reporters cheekily remarking that this is perhaps the first time a march like this proceeded without any obstruction.
The press, both local and international including well-known bloggers like Raja Petra, Jeff Ooi and Patrick Teoh were also there, busy taking pictures of this event of the Bar which happened only for the second time in the 60 years of history of the Bar.
“Today is indeed the greatest day of the Malaysian Bar”, declared immediate Past President, Yeo Yang Poh. In fact, early in the morning, Yeo and lawyer Desmond Choi went on to the popular Cantonese FM 98.8 Channel to tell listeners why the lawyers were doing this with most callers calling in to praise the Malaysian Bar Council and members of the Malaysian Bar who decided to do this for justice.
The march stopped at the front gate to the Prime Minister’s office at about 12.30pm. The office bearers, Ambiga, Vice-President Raguanth Kesavan, Secretary Lim Chee Wee and Treasurer George Varughese then went to the Prime Minister’s office to hand over two memoranda to the Prime Minister’s political secretary whilst the crowd continued to stay behind chanting away in support of the four-man delegation.
The weather was perfect when the march started as if God was with us. But when the march ended, the heavens appeared to be crying for the judiciary too pouring down rains of tears whilst members of the Bar and their leaders steadfastly stayed behind, drenched in the rain.
For those who took part in this historical march, they had left Putrajaya today with their heads high for they had done something not just for the Bar but for the country. Most of all, they had walked the talk.