Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Happy World Refugee Day and Goodbye Emergency Legislation!

As I read the regular influx of auto-delivered emails from the Malaysian Bar and KL Bar Committee's various sub-committees and notification mailers, I read two of the Bar Council's press releases released yesterday and today which led me to writing this post.

The first was a welcome to the end emergency-related legislation. Due to Parliament's ending of Malaysia's emergency statuses year, all emergency-related regulations and laws cease effect within 6 months of the status' by virtue of a Constitutional provision, and that 6 months ended yesterday. As a citizen, I welcome today as an important milestone in our country's move towards a more progressive liberal democracy.

Today also marks World Refugee Day, and the Bar Council's second press statement was an appeal for the recognition of refugees' dignity, to provide them access to and recognition of their lawful work, and to move towards local ratification of the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.

I may not agree with everything the Bar Council does, nor am I always proud of my legal fraternity, but today I stand strongly and completely behind these press releases as a proud member of the Bar.

You may say press releases are dime a dozen, but I recall what my boss just told me yesterday when we were considering the testimony of two witnesses. I said "I don't see how Witness B can justify his position." My boss replied "At least he takes a stand! Witness A is completely unhelpful".

Taking a stand is a small but definite step despite its lack of immediate effect. The rate and breadth of legal reform in this country is not up to par, and to mark the end of emergency legislation by reminding the government of its commitment to reform is proper. As to the second press release, I know that too few Malaysians are even aware of the issues surrounding refugees here, and many simply do not care. I hope in time this will change and am glad the Bar Council is assisting in the right direction.


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