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theSun | MONDAY MARCH 16 2009 17

speak up!

Bar duty-bound
to uphold justice and far reaching effects of their proposals.
Comment Even if they realise they are more concerned
with the political exigencies of the situation.
by Param Cumaraswamy In the course, they are prepared to sacrifice
well-settled principles for short-term political
DATUK Mukhriz Mahathir’s question in the gains. Would not the profession fail in its duty
Dewan Rakyat on whether the government to society if it fails to alert the people of the
would amend the Legal Profession Act 1976 obnoxious features of such legislation?
(LPA) to limit the jurisdiction of the Malaysian The Malaysian Bar collectively is duty-
Bar to stop it from interfering in government bound to uphold the cause of justice without
business (theSun, March 13) is reminiscent of regard to its own interest or that of its mem-
the dark days of the eighties. bers, uninfluenced by fear or favour. This is
In 1981 when the Bar protested over the expressly provided for as its first purpose in
amendments to the Societies Act including S.42 of the LPA. Cause of justice includes the
a march to Parliament House the govern- promotion and protection of human rights
ment took the Bar Council to task. The then and fundamental liberties as provided in
home affairs minister, was reported to have the UN Basic Principles on Role of Lawyers
said that the legal profession should decide and the Vienna Declaration 1993 to which
whether it should remain as law interpreters Malaysia too subscribed. These international
or lawmakers. instruments also provide for the legal profes-
One of the purposes of the Malaysian Bar sion’s right to take part in public discussions
provided in the LPA then was: on matters concerning the law, administra-
“to advise the Government and the Courts tion of justice and promotion and protection
where necessary in matters affecting legislation of human rights. Indeed, the profession has a
and the administration and practice of the responsibility to educate the public about the
law in Malaysia.” principles of the rule of law, their rights and
In 1983 in response to the protest of the responsibilities in society and the available
Bar over the amendment to the Societies Act remedies, importance of the independence of
and other proposed legislation that particular the judiciary and when that independence is
purpose of the Bar was amended which now threatened to go to its defence.
reads: In this day and time when greater trans-
“Where requested so to do, to express parency and accountability are expected
its view on matters affecting legislation and from all public institutions, including the
the administration and practice of the law in legislature and its members, and with the
Malaysia”. (writer’s emphasis) advent of advanced information technology
The thinking of our political masters Mukhriz would be well advised to come out
then was politics and lawmaking were their of the shell of the dark days of the eighties
domain to the exclusion of all others. They and be prepared to meet and respond to the
justified this on the grounds that they were enlightened and discerning rakyat.
the elected representatives and therefore they Minister in the Prime Minister’s Depart-
knew what was best for the electorate. ment Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz, too, is
The role of the legal profession must nec- reminded that the government he represents
essarily be wider than the traditional role of is a government of the rakyat, by the rakyat
its members advising clients on legal matters and for the rakyat. The government should,
and advocating their causes in the court. It therefore, take the rakyat into its confidence
will not only be a betrayal of society but a and make public proposed bills before pre-
betrayal of the profession itself if the legal senting it in the Dewan Rakyat. Let there be a
profession adopts a passive traditional role robust public debate on proposed legislation.
in society. Which other profession or section That is what democracy is all about.
in the society that has the skill and under-
standing of the intricacies and niceties of the
law and the constitution than the lawyers? Datuk Param Cumaraswamy is former UN
In presenting legislation before Parliament Special Rapporteur on the Independence of
politicians, being what they are, very often Judges and Lawyers. Comments: letters@
fail to realise and appreciate the implications


Put a stop to doubtful MCs
THE article “MCs being abused, said MMA presi- The president of Malaysian Medical Associa-
dent” (March 13) caught my eye. tion (MMA), Dr Khoo Kah Lin, has pinpointed the
The abuse of medical certificates (MCs) is issues concerning the abuse of MCs, but unfor-
not a new issue and has been brought up by tunately, no constructive suggestions were given
my lecturing colleagues during our meetings. to counter the problem.
They claim that students tend to produce MCs to The MMA, the Health Ministry or even the
excuse themselves from lectures or tutorials. Higher Education Ministry should discuss this
It has been noticed that most students submit problem and come out with some measures
MCs from the same clinic and they even have the to counter the problem. We should discipline
courage to tell the school’s administrative execu- doctors who issue medical certificates for
tive officer that MCs can be bought for RM5. doubtful reasons.
There is nothing we can do as there is no
concrete evidence to prove the wrongdoings of Ng Miew Luan
these irresponsible doctors. Via email

Raise tax relief for education
IN ANNOUNCING the mini-budget, Finance Moreover, the consumer price index and
Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that gross domestic product have been growing
the government was taking the opportunity to regularly for the past eight years and the
encourage Malaysians to pursue Master and increase in tuition fees is much higher than our
PhD courses and there were available grants expectations.
for Master and PhD students. I appeal to the government to take this into
Under the Income Tax Act 1967, the personal consideration and increase the tax relief for
relief for resident individuals for education is education.
restricted to RM5,000 a year and it has not been
increased since 2001. The relief comes to about Lee Andrew Hs
RM416.67 per month. Via email