by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, March 18, 1992:
The ritual of asking Lawyers appearing before the Supreme Court to declare whether they recognise Tun Hamid as Lord President is demeaning and humiliating and should be stopped altogether.
For the second day in succession yesterday, lawyers appear¬ing in the Supreme Court were asked to explain their stand if they dispute the position of Tun Abdul Hamid Omar as Lord President.
The ritual of asking lawyers appearing before the Supreme Court to declare whether they recognise Tun Hamid as Lord Pesident is demeaning and humiliating to the office of the Lord President and should be stopped altogether.
Such a ritual at the Federal Court will make the Malaysian judiciary the laughing stock of the world, especially as it will highlight to the international judicial, juristic and legal circles that the Lord President is unable to make a distinction between recog¬nising his appointment as Lord President by the Yang di Pertuan Agong and having confidence in him as the head of the Judiciary in view of his role in the 1988 Judicial Crisis over the expulsion of the former Lord President, Tun Salleh Abas.
The demeaning and humiliating ritual at the Supreme Court should be discontinued henceforth especially at the Supreme Court Bar Council, in a statement yesterday by its vice-president Zainur Zakaria declared that the “Bar has, at no time, disputed or challenged the legality of the appointment of Tun Hamid as Lord President” and that “Consequent¬ly, the issue of the recognition of the Bar of the appointment of the Lord President does not arise at all”.
In this connection, I wish to correct a Bernama report of my statement on this issue yesterday, as the Bernama report appeared on the Beritex yesterday and in today’s New Straits Times and Utusan Malaysia.
Bernama reported me as saying that “the Bar had done the country a disservice for it had not only failed to bring about a reconciliation with the Judiciary and the Government, but precipitated a Bar-Judiciary confrontation”.
This is incorrect, I did not criticise the Bar Council or the Malaysian Bar, but the ‘gross misjudgment and miscalculation of lawyers who proposed motions at the-Bar AGM’ last Saturday, which has precipitated a new escalation of Bar-Government and Bar-Judiciary ten¬sions.
It has to be admitted that Tun Hamid was humiliated by the overwhelming rejection of the motion at last Saturday’s AGM, especial¬ly as the vote of 809 against 52 can only be described as a ‘land-slide’ rejection, re-opening the old but still very raw wounds arising from the 1988 Judiciary Crisis.
But the humiliation of Tun Hamid by the result of the AGM vote was not brought about at the initiative
of the Malaysian Bar or Bar Council, but by the handful of lawyers who had misjudged and miscalculated in proposing such a motion.
This motion is not unrelated to the UMNO General Assembly deliberations last November, and I will
not be surprised if a Cabinet Minister had played a prominent role in getting, the motions proposed at
the Bar AGM.
The humiliation of Tun Hamid by the result of the Bar’s AGM meeting last Saturday cannot be blamed therefore on the Bar Council or the Malaysian Bar, but the handful of lawyers who, for their own best reasons, have decided to propose the motions without understanding the convictions, feelings and mood of the majority of lawyers in the coun¬try.
This is also no excuse or justification for Tun Hamid to get personally involved in the public controversy by insisting on a daily ritual at the Supreme Court which demeans the office of Lord President and can only bring about further humiliation.
As Lord President, Tun Hamid should and must stay above the Bar-Government controversy over the Bar’s AGM last Saturday.
The Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club of MPs and the UMNO Youth are demanding for government action to punish the Bar Council and the Malaysian Bar. This is most ill-advised and foolhardy, for it can only plunge the country into a new crisis over the principles of the Independence of the Judiciary, the Rule of Law and the Inde¬pendence of the Bar, which can do no good for Malaysia’s international reputation or her investment climate.