Bar chief told to retract statement in 14 days - or 100 lawyers will demand his resignation

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Bar president Christopher Leong must retract his statement on the Federal Court's decision to uphold Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy conviction within 14 days.

If not, 100 members of the Bar from various states in the peninsula said they would seek his resignation as well as call upon the Attorney-General to initiate contempt proceedings against him for questioning the judgment.

Speaking on behalf of the 100, senior lawyer Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman told a press conference yesterday that they deemed Leong's statement to be a direct attack on the Federal Court.

"As practicing lawyers, we are very concerned when the Bar president makes such disparaging remarks about our judicial system and the courts, in the name of representing the Malaysian Bar," he claimed.

Fellow lawyer, Datuk Mohd Noor Amin, said Leong's statement on Feb 11 implied that Anwar was "persecuted, not prosecuted" and also questioned why the complainant, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, was not charged with abettment under Sections 377A and 377B of the Penal Code read together with Section 109.

"This is an utterly outrageous statement for even a lay person to make, what more coming from the president of the Malaysian Bar.

"What is obvious from the said press release, is that, in one breath Leong admits having not read the judgment, and yet in the same breath, the day after the decision, he makes disparaging remarks that the judgment of the Federal Court was without any basis in law," he claimed.

They urged Leong to apologise to the judiciary and judges publicly, communicate it to all international bodies and entities, and make it known that the views in the Feb 11 press release were his and not of the majority of the Bar.

When contacted, Leong replied via text message that members were welcome to air their views.

"We also encourage these practising members to attend the Malaysian Bar AGM (Annual General Meeting) on Mac 14, and raise the matter there where many of our members will be present," he said.