The Malaysian Bar: A Law unto itself


The is the first installment in a five part series of articles, analysing the Malaysian Bar and the exclusive inner workings of this organization in the heat of the Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah defamation suit currently being played out in the courts.

We begin our 5 part series with Rule 5 of the Act and will in turn during the course of this week examine Rules 43 and 44 in order of priority before dissecting the Malaysian Bar’s unique morality of political partisanship.


Tan Sri  Shafee Abdullah (Shafee) is the lawyer for the prosecution (Director of Public Prosecutions) who prosecuted the appeal against Anwar Ibrahim (now in jail) on charges of sodomy.

TS Shafee fell foul of the Malaysian Bar and its highly partisan and politicized leadership in bringing to an end the long drawn out Anwar Ibrahim sodomy trial.

Anwar’s egregious conduct ‘hanged’ the man by his own noose in the end. Anwar was supported unequivocally and fanatically by the Malaysian Bar. Shafee in winning the appeal enraged the coalition of anti government, anti Muslim and anti Malay associates of Anwar.

The Malaysian Bar considered it an intrinsic if not sacred duty of every lawyer to ‘defend Anwar’ regardless of the inconsistencies in Anwar’s claims and defences, Anwar’s lies and the rest of the evidence stacked up against Anwar in the sodomy trial.  Not least of all against Anwar in the end was, the evidence handed to the prosecution on a silver platter by Anwar and his defence team.

Amongst the pro Anwar forces and an anti government coalition is that  foreign funded anti government organization, Bersih. Bersih is a highly partisan anti Malay, anti government political group funded by the NED and civil societies led by the lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the Shafee defamation suit. That individual is Ambiga Srinivasan.


We begin by analysing,then testing the validity, the enforcement and the enforceability of the Malaysian Bar’s much preached about, seemingly sacrosanct and flaunted Legal Profession Act of 1978 (Rules, Act).

We also examine and we discuss the Malaysian Bar’s chequered history of tolerance of non-compliance of its own Rules by very prominent anti government members of the Malaysian Bar; and we ask why, some amongst them are allowed to and thrive in their breaches of section 5 of the Act, whilst others like TS Shafee are vilified and punished.

The Legal Profession Act is being used as a tool of self righteousness, feigned indignation and high morality by lead counsel for the defendants in the Shafee defamation case.

Section 5 of the Rules is being waived as the ‘gold standard’ of righteous , ethical and professional conduct (or etiquette as Sivarasah refers to it as) expected of lawyers in Malaysia.

The gospel of section 5 is being preached in court by Ambiga Srinivasan, Bersihs’s chair and lead counsel for the plaintiff in the Shafee defamation suit. Notably and relevantly Ambiga from available statistics is one of the most identifiable violators of section 5 of the Rules.

We begin our 5 part series with Rule 5 of the Act and will in turn during the course of this week examine Rules 43 and 44 in order of priority before dissecting the Malaysian Bar’s unique morality of political partisanship.


Section 5 of the Rules deals with the issue of publicity. It is at the heart of Ambiga’s (and the plaintiff’s) attack on Shafee in court. The attack on TS Shafee by Ambiga is breathtaking in its audacity and further, it makes a rational explanation of her strategy in attacking TS Shafee in the face of available evidence, difficult to comprehend.

Relevant sections of section 5 of the Legal Profession Act are reprinted below in our final paragraph.

The hypocrisy behind Ambiga’s attacks on TS Shafee, considering the numerous and blatant breaches of this Rule (section 5) by a prominent group of anti government lawyers, some of who now appear before the courts in the TS Shafee matter, is embarrassing and disingenuous.

The very fact of Bersih and the Malaysian Bar’s continued involvement in anti government activity, appearing before the media on a regular and incessant basis, evidences a  long series of breaches, the spirit and every element of the letter of the law of this section 5 of the Rules.

An article explaining and analysing the dangers of engaging in publicity seeking conduct by prominent members of the Malaysian Bar’s anti government coalition in their pursuit of publicity, personal and professional ‘glory’ under the guise of justiciable causes was published in our blog on 1 December 2015. 

That particular article focused on a lawyer, Amrick Singh Sidhu, a man whose engaging in vain, unauthorised (by the client), unjustifiable, personal publicity is a case in point. Sidhu’s conduct in this regard hi lites the selective approach taken by the Malaysian Bar in punishing section 5 breaches.  That article amongst other things also identified the dangers of unsolicited, unwarranted publicity by lawyers like Amrick Singh without the consent of their clients ending up in demolishing and waiving lawyer client privilege.

The Bar has allowed the likes of Amrick Singh Sidhu, Sivarasah Rasiah, Manjeet Dhillon, Edmund Bon, Lim Chee Wee, people like Maria Chin Abdullah and others in their position including and especially Ambiga Srinivasan to engage in conduct regularly and consistently breaching section 5 of the Rules with impunity.

The Bar for its part has done nothing to discourage or punish the conduct of each of these violaters over time even though their conduct has clearly breached more than just section 5 of the Act.


The Bar’s double standards of its application of Section 5 of its Rules, is evident in every respect of the many public media appearances by its members, especially Ambiga Srinivasan. The many breaches of Section 5 by the Bar at large is self evident and undeniable.

Ambiga shamelessly appears in opposition funded and friendly media, online and in foreign TV, radio and print media outlets disseminating what is clearly falsehoods and anti government propaganda in furtherance of her own practice and causes. Ambiga and her Associates’ conduct is a blatant breach of the section 5 of the Rule particularly sub section 3 (a) to (d).

It beggars belief she stands in court each day cross examining and attacking the credibility of a fellow lawyer for supposedly breaching the same standard and Rule which she has breached for over a decade. The same Rule 5 applicable to legal practitioners which if it were true that Shafee breached, would pale into comparative insignificance if not fall well below the breach threshold of the Rules when compared against Ambiga’s breaches.

Not one of Bersih, the Malaysian Bar’s political wing and those members of parliament who are also lawyers and therefore bound by these Rules, whose conduct promotes breaches of  each of the sub sections identified below, have been identifiably punished by the disciplinary committee of the Malaysian Bar ; or their breaches even so much as warranted a mention.

Some of the Rules breached by Bersih and its associates in the opposition all lawyers appear below:

Section 5 and its subsections below outlines prohibitions against the conduct by lawyers identified in those matters contained in those sub sections :

(iv) state anything that would be construed as offering any inducement to, or imposing any duress, upon any person as a means of obtaining professional business for himself or his firm;

(vi) make any laudatory references to himself or his firm, or directly or indirectly extol the quality of the professional services provided by him or his firm;
(viii) incorporate the armorial bearings of the Malaysian Bar and Bar Council; or

(ix) refer to the appointment of an Advocate and Solicitor currently or previously practicing in his firm to a judicial office.

(2) Without prejudice to subparagraph 5(1)(b)(ix), an Advocate and Solicitor who publicizes the practice of his firm may, in the publicity, include in the name of his firm the name of an Advocate and Solicitor who had been previously practising in his firm and who has been appointed to a judicial office, where prior to that appointment such name was part of the name of the firm. (What’s the difference? we ask)

(3) For the purposes of sub paragraph (1)(a)(ii), a publicity is misleading, deceptive, inaccurate or false if-

(a) it contains a material misrepresentation of fact;

(b) it omits to state a material fact;

(c) it contains any information which cannot be reasonably verified; or

(d) it is likely to create an unjustified expectation about the results that can be achieved by the Advocate and Solicitor or his firm.

Incredibly and notably paragraph 3 of the above Section 5 of the Rules is splattered unceremoniously across the conduct of those members of the Malaysian Bar who have been highly partisan in their anti government activities and in unmitigated breach of their own Rules.

Sub paragraphs 3 (a) to (d) is particularly relevant to breaches of Section 5 where it concerns the unpunished actions of those lawyers acting in the interests of a coalition (including the Malaysian Bar and Bersih) to bring down the government of Malaysia.

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