Law to check Bar Coun­cil funds

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS - BY G. SURACH

PETALING JAYA: The pro­posed Le­gal Pro­fes­sion Act (LPA) amend­ments should ad­dress is­sues of fund­ing re­ceived by the Bar Coun­cil, said Min­is­ter in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Depart­ment Datuk Seri Aza­lina Oth­man Said ( pix).

In a state­ment is­sued yes­ter­day, Aza­lina said the pro­posed amend­ments would deal with is­sues per­tain­ing to any grant, gift, prop­erty or money re­ceived by the Bar Coun­cil to en­sure it up­holds jus­tice with­out any per­sonal in­ter­ests or in­ter­fer­ence from ex­ter­nal par­ties.

“Malaysia is a sov­er­eign na­tion. We may have our dif­fer­ences but we must re­solve it our­selves and not al­low any ex­ter­nal par­ties to med­dle with our in­ter­nal af­fairs and pol­i­tics.”

Re­spond­ing to the Bar Coun­cil’s ad­mis­sion that it re­ceived a re­search grant from bil­lion­aire Ge­orge Soros’ Open So­ci­ety Foun­da­tion (OSF), Aza­lina said the So­ci­eties Act 1966 (Act 335) and So­ci­eties Reg­u­la­tions 1984 should be amended to be en­forced to all cat­e­gories of or­gan­i­sa­tions.

“There is a need to re­de­fine the So­ci­eties Act by in­sert­ing the re­port­ing pro­ce­dure on do­na­tions re­ceived to en­sure sound gov­er­nance, ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency, which in­di­rectly lead to bet­ter so­cial and com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment. “The same law should also pro­vide room to reg­u­late the reg­is­tra­tion of coali­tion of NGOs such as Ber­sih to pre­vent mis­use,” she said.

Her re­sponse came after Bar Coun­cil Mi­grants, Refugees and Im­mi­gra­tion Af­fairs Com­mit­tee chair­man Datuk Seri M. Ra­machel­vam had ad­mit­ted last week that it had re­ceived a sum of US$15,000 (RM63,165) from OSF in Jan­uary 2015 as a grant for re­search on mi­grant work­ers in Malaysia.

Po­lice are cur­rently in­ves­ti­gat­ing the Bar Coun­cil un­der Sec­tion 124C of the Pe­nal Code for al­legedly at­tempt­ing to un­der­mine par­lia­men­tary democ­racy.

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