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in Washington DC in 2005, where she secured second place. Called to the Bar in 2007. Honorary Secretary of the Kuala Lumpur Legal Aid Centre, committee member of Abolish ISA Movement (GMI), member of Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), volunteer Tutor of Mentari Voluntary Tuition Project. My parents decided to send me to religious school so that I could learn religion and academic subjects at the same time. They wanted diversity in their children’s education as my older sister was not sent to a religious school. My parents believe that religion is all about moderation and that the religious education that I learned from the religious schools can be shared with my other siblings and themselves. They have a considerable amount of trust in their children. They will express their opinions on certain matters, but at the end of the day, we call the shots. Provenance: Both my mother and father are from Kedah. My father works in Muda Agricultural Development Authority (MADA). My mother used to work in the same place as my father but has retired. I grew up in a moderate working class family. My paternal grandfather is Malay of Hadhramaut origin and my paternal grandmother is Malay of Siam origin. My maternal grandfather is Malay of Pattani origin and my maternal grandmother is Malay of Sumatra origin.

Age 28, attended Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam, Sekolah Menengah Assunta, Petaling Jaya. Law graduate of the International Islamic University, Malaysia. Project Head of Legal Awareness Committee, KL Legal Aid Centre, Suaram secretariat member. Provenance: My family background is very boring, lah. Family living in USJ Subang *yawn* Father is working as project coordinator, mother passed away, father re-married etc. My late maternal grandpa and grandma... I’ve been told that they were PRM (Parti Rakyat Malaysia) members. Btw most of them are now Umno members. My late paternal grandpa was from Indonesia. I am keturunan Minang. In 1998, in Form Five, I was in the same school as Nurul Izzah (Anwar) and... I think, (Tun Dr) Mahathir’s foster daughter. We’ve saw everything happen before our eyes, all the Reformasi demonstrasi and everything. And I could see a split between even my friends and in the school. On sports day, we’d always invite Kak Wan, (Datin Seri) Wan Azizah, and also (Datin Seri Dr) Siti Hasmah. But after Reformasi, everything gone. And then when I entered UIA (International Islamic University), I started writing for Tailerag, the Tan Sri Ahmad Ibrahim Legal Research Group (which was unrecognised by the university). I had my own column about students’ rights. CONTINUES NEXT PAGE

as Puspa said, but no-one knows about them other than lawyers, though I think the government is aware of the situation. That’s why we need to have the [police] complaints commission as soon as possible.

Fadiah and Murnie

Ravinder: There’s another point. The police have discretionary powers, budi bicara; in Malaysia now it’s very, very loosely used [and] the favourite term... [It’s found in] Section 28A(8) (of the Criminal Procedure Code, which the police, on reasonable grounds, may deny a suspect access to a lawyer). I don’t deny that in life-or-death situations, the section has its uses, such as when someone’s life may be at risk. In this case, you’ve arrested five lawyers who identified themselves as lawyers from the Legal Aid Centre, and not even lawyers who have a pecuniary advantage to be there. It is eleven o’clock at night; I can think of better things to do at that hour. And they used the section against us to deny us of our right to counsel because it would ‘hinder investigations’. What possible explanation is there for the exercise of budi bicara – what investigations are we going to hinder by letting us see our counsel? There is a natural antagonism between the police force and lawyers, in general, because the lawyers are seen as the guys who represent the other side, the criminals. But in this case, there doesn’t seem even to be any sort of understanding that you’re part of a system. Fadiah: Because they fail to recognise lawyers as officers of the court. Police, the judges and the lawyers, we work together in a system, and we cannot work in isolation. They simply regard us members of the opposition. They fail to appreciate the fact that we are not only discharging these social duties but we are discharging our statutory duties as provided for under the Legal Profession Act. Ravinder: If you’re charging someone for an offence, that person has a [statutory] right to a defence; he has a right to be heard in court...

From the cases the Legal Aid Centre handles, as you mentioned, there seems to be a trend of due process being disregarded and there doesn’t seem to be anything that can be done about it. There is a system, but the system is failing because they don’t understand it... Murnie: It’s not that they don’t understand the system. They understand the system; they choose not to follow the system. It’s about mindsets. Puspawati: They’re just following instructions, but I don’t know where the instructions are coming from. Fadiah: It’s no longer a situation where if you ask, that person would actually provide you with a reasonable answer. It’s a situation where, ‘I don’t care what the answers are, I’m just following instructions.’ But are there actually instructions? Ravinder: Let me put it this way. How is the police to be accountable if in the papers the next day, the PM says, ‘I cannot look into the micro-runnings of the police,’ the IGP says, ‘Lawyers are not above the law,’ and the Home Minister says, ‘Let them sue’? The DPM says, ‘I don’t know why they’re lodging a report with Suhakam.’ Did anybody say, ‘We will check whether what the police did was right or wrong’? If you were in the OCPD’s position, why would you care when those on top give you an invisible green light [to carry on]? Fadiah: These are virtually statesanctioned actions. Murnie: That is our bigger frustration, to receive this kind of response from those above... Fadiah: It’s not about ‘saya hanya mengikut arahan’, it’s not about following instructions, it’s not about ‘not all police JULY2009

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5 lawyers  

Ravin Singh

5 lawyers  

Ravin Singh

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