(Petaling Jaya, Monday): Yesterday,
the editor-in-chief of New Straits Times, Datuk A. Kadir Jasin, in his
Sunday Times column "Other Thots" writing about irresponsible elected
"If they fail, said the Prime Minister, they should not be re-elected. But why wait for such leaders to lose the election?
"If they are deemed to have failed in carrying out their responsibilities as elected representatives, they should not be reappointed to contest in the next general election.
"There are such people. Some have been so irresponsible that they ended up in court for all kinds of crimes and breaches of the law.
We have even heard of wakil rakyat asking the court to throw out suits against them to avoid embarrassing them and the Government they represent.
"There have also been cases of the Yang Berhormat being taken to court for cheating their business partners or being publicly accused of not paying gambling debts.
"The Barisan Nasional should get rid of these people. And what better time to do so than during the coming general election.
" But having irresponsible wakil rakyat is not the monopoly of the Government. There are also bad opposition MPs and State Assemblymen. Fortunately for them, the spotlight is not often shone on them.
"I picked up from the grapevine recently that one of them had passed himself off as a practising lawyer and a member of a legal firm when, in fact, he did not have a valid certificate of legal practice."
Today, the New Straits Times gave very prominent coverage to a follow-up to Kadir Jasin’s column, under the headline ‘Act against reps posing as lawyers’, carrying a report of a joint statement by three former DAP leaders, namely Liew Ah Kim, Fung Ket Wing and Wee Choo Keong, demanding that the Bar Council and the relevant authorities to act against Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen "who claim to be practising lawyers when they do not posess valid practising certificates"
The trio were not interested in Barisan Nasional elected representatives who had asked the court to throw out suits against them to avoid embarrassing them and the Government they represent or who had been taken to court for cheating their business partners or being publicly accused of not paying gambling debts.
Their sole interest is in Kadir Jasin’s final paragraph referring to an Opposition elected representative: "I picked up from the grapevine recently that one of them had passed himself off as a practising lawyer and a member of a legal firm when, in fact, he did not have a valid certificate of legal practice."
In their statement, the trio accused the MP or State Assemblyman concerned as having contravened the Legal Profession Act 1976 and committed the crimes of deception and impersonation and aiding and abetting the criminal acts under the Penal Code.
They said the Bar Council was duty bound to immediately investigate and take disciplinary action against these people for tarnishing the image of the legal profession and called on the Bar Council to lodge a police report against the culprit as "no Malaysian will condone their despicable acts or would want such unscrupulous persons to represent them in Parliament or the State Assemblies".
Kadir Jasin said he had "picked up from the grapevine recently that one of them had passed himself off as a practising lawyer and a member of a legal firm when, in fact, he did not have a valid certificate of legal practice" and I have picked up from the grapevine’s grapevine that Kadir Jasin was referring to me when I visited my son, DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng in Kajang Prison, who is serving two concurrent 18-month jail sentences under the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act while discharging his parliamentary duties to defend the honour, women’s rights and human rights of an underaged 15-year-old girl.
If what I picked up from the grapevine’s grapevine is right, that Kadir Jasin was referring to me - which explains the fulsome coverage of the statement on the issue by the former DAP trio in the NST today, another example for the connoissieurs of the "conspiracy theory" in Malaysian public life - Kadir Jasin owes me a fulsome apology as I have never at any time claimed that I was a practising lawyer, that I had a certificate of legal practice or a member of a legal firm when I visited Guan Eng in Kajang Prison.
When Guan Eng was jailed at Kajang Prison on August 25 after the Federal Court had rejected his appeal against conviction and sentence, I was informed by the Kajang Prison authorities that Guan Eng would be allowed family visits once in four weeks for the first three months, after which family visits would be once in three weeks; and visits by Guan Eng’s lawyers.
I had visited Guan Eng as his legal adviser, but not as a practising advocate and solicitor, both in connection with the matters of his pardon petitions to the Yang di Pertuan Agong and the Yang di Pertua Negeri, Malacca, the mass signature campaign for the pardon of Guan Eng and other legal issues. However, I had never "passed" myself off as a practising lawyer or as a member of a legal firm or that I had a certificate of legal practice which I had not taken out for the past two decades after I had been called to the Malaysian Bar.
Karpal Singh & Co, the legal firm which had been co-ordinating the legal defences for Guan Eng, had in two letters to the Kajang Prison authorities dated 24th November 1998 and 2nd December 1998 stating explicitly that I was not a practising lawyer.
Kadir Jasin and the former DAP trio are entitled to their selective concerns, whether in closing their eyes to the injustice at the incarceration of Guan Eng, that his family is allowed to visit him only once in four weeks in the first three months and now once in three weeks for the rest of his prison term, or that his three children will not be able to embrace and touch their father for the whole duration of his two concurrent 18-month jail sentence, or that Guan Eng had lost 18 pounds during the first 100 days of his Kajang prison term, or that he had developed a severe and probably life-long back ache as a result of having to sleep on the hard cold cement floor for the first month of his incarceration.
But those who have minimum standards of decency, civility and fairplay would not want to exploit the injustices suffered by Guan Eng for one’s personal ends, whether political or journalistic. I have committed no crime of deception or impersonation when I visited Guan Eng in Kajang Prison - unless it is a crime for a father in wanting to visit his son who is unfairly and unjustly incacerated in prison for standing up for the rights of another fellow Malaysian, in this case a 15-year-old underaged Malay girl!