Motion on mandatory training for young lawyers passes by one vote, no recount

Steven Thiru addressing the 70th annual general meeting of the Malaysian Bar at the Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel, March 19, 2016. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Steven Thiru addressing the 70th annual general meeting of the Malaysian Bar at the Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel, March 19, 2016. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 ― The Bar Council managed to push through by a single vote its controversial motion at the Malaysian Bar's annual general meeting (AGM) today that makes continuing professional development (CPD) compulsory for junior lawyers.

The motion was approved by 295 votes in favour versus 294 against, with sources telling Malay Mail Online that a recount was not conducted.

“President should call for recount,” said one source from the AGM.

The Malaysian Bar president told Malay Mail Online later that he did not agree to a recount.

In the press conference after the AGM, Steven explained that there was no provision for a recount and that it was also “not possible” to do so as many members had left the hall right after the voting and could not be recalled.

“But one vote in the Malaysian Bar is still a vote of the Malaysian Bar, but — and I want to be very clear about this — that does not mean that the concerns expressed by others would not be taken into account,” he told reporters here.

The Bar Council motion proposed that the CPD scheme take effect for a 24-month cycle from July 1 this year till June 30, 2018, applying to lawyers who were issued their first practising certificate on or after July 1, 2011, as well as pupils who begin their pupillage on or after this July 1.

Lawyers are required to obtain at least 16 CPD points per 24-month CPD cycle, while pupils must get a total of eight CPD points, with non-compliance punishable by fines of between RM100 and RM500.

Lawyers told Malay Mail Online recently that the proposed CPD scheme is discriminatory as it only applied to lawyers who have been in practice for five years or less.

Steven today stressed that the CPD scheme did not exclude segments of the Bar, as it will be rolled out in stages to encompass different age groups.

He also pointed out that in the first cycle starting July, older members of the Bar would still have to be involved as trainers under the CPD scheme.

“When (they) say members who are 30 years and above are excluded, they are not, because it is the members 30 years and above that contribute in terms of the lectures that are run, so they are still part of the scheme,” he said.

“It’s a one Bar scheme that is going to be implemented in stages. It is not for a particular segment of the Bar.”

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