We know being a lawyer is supposed to be exciting. Especially if you deal on a daily basis with courts and criminals. Some lawyers, like me, are too chickenshit and just sits back at our office, out of harms way and the reach of those judges who wouldn't give lawyer the time of the day. Those who just couldn't stand lawyers who dress a bit too flashy and always later for court. So, we stayed in the safety of our office and let those who have this sense of justice to go and play the litigation game. Those who we consider as braver than us.
So, when on 7th of May, nearly a week ago, 5 lawyers were arrested in Malaysia for trying to defend a few people who got caught while assembling albeit in a supposedly illegal gathering, it was a moment of reflection and a kind of a revelation with question popping in my mind like "Can lawyer be arrested for demanding to see his or her client?". Of course, in a country where a lawyer was questioned once by the police (or was it the Anti Corruption Agency) for asking a 'sensitive' question in court, it may not be too of a surprise.
I was once a criminal lawyer and when you deal with the police, you tend to have to insist on certain matters for it to be delivered. While in court, or even ourtside it, you talk to the prosecuting police officer (PO, you call them) more like a friend than anything else. Even with the investigating officer of the case. Although you know and they know, you might pounce on them in court later. Being nice is not something you need to learn in law school. You can get mileage out of it. Unless circumstances require you to do otherwise.
Here, in Malaysia, there is no such thing as reading your rights or processing someone before being jailed. After a case in which the court says that the circumstances of the arrest will have no merit on the case. Don't ask me which case, I have to go and look for it, or even if the case law already changed. I am that bad in criminal law nowadays. So, being arrested will give the police a window of 24 hours before they are required to be charged in court. If at all. Like what I suspected will happen to the 5 lawyers.
I don't think they will be charged. So, why do we need an Emergency General Meeting called upon by the Bar Council this Firday, 15.5.09? Yes, that burning question, why were these lawyers arrested in the first place? For wanting to talk and see their clients? I still believe there was no valid reason.
Like a lion tamer who got bitten by the lion, then survives, he or she will need to go back into the cage to show who is in authority. Whips and chair will be used in a lion tamer case. For us? This EGM is the whip that maybe just the whip we need.
Read the brave souls account at Loyarburuk.com.