KL Bar election: First female lawyer elected as chairman

Goh had contended against outgoing KL Bar committee members Alex Anton Netto and Mohd Amir Sharil Bahari Md Noor or Amir Bahari. ― Picture courtesy of Goh Siu Lin
Goh had contended against outgoing KL Bar committee members Alex Anton Netto and Mohd Amir Sharil Bahari Md Noor or Amir Bahari. ― Picture courtesy of Goh Siu Lin

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 — Lawyer Goh Siu Lin today became the first female to win the chairman post in the Kuala Lumpur Bar committee, besting two other contenders for the position.

Outgoing KL Bar chairman Ravinder Singh Dhalliwal, who is better known as Ravin Singh, confirmed that Goh was elected to the position today based on the results of the polls during the KL Bar’s 25th annual general meeting (AGM) this afternoon.

When contacted, he told Malay Mail Online that Goh is the “first female” in the Kuala Lumpur Bar’s history to be voted into the position.

Goh, who was serving as the KL Bar honorary secretary, had contended against outgoing KL Bar committee members Alex Anton Netto and Mohd Amir Sharil Bahari Md Noor or Amir Bahari for the position for the 2017/2018 term.

In her manifesto, Goh, who is also the president of the Association of Women Lawyers, had pledged to ensure that her committee members are multiracial, multireligious, coming from both genders and are of varying seniority.

Among other things, Goh had said she planned to form a new “Gender, Equity and Diversity” sub-committee to address the needs of women, disabled and indigenous lawyers and to also pursue the provision of dedicated parking lots at the Kuala Lumpur court complex for those who are disabled, pregnant or have health issues.

In the days leading up to the KL Bar election today, Amir Bahari's campaign had garnered significant attention as he sought for support to increase diversity in the state Bar where Muslim lawyers were allegedly under-represented.

Among other things, Amir Bahari promised to Islamise the KL Bar by discontinuing the serving of alcohol at its events, besides voicing support for a proposed legal amendment for harsher Shariah punishments and also pledged to organise open house events for all major festivities to provide members with networking opportunities.

Ravin told Malay Mail Online that the total of KL Bar members who had turned up for the event was 1,017, adding that “this is the highest in history” in terms of KL Bar AGM attendance figures. He said the KL Bar has around 7,000 members.

According to Ravin, the ten lawyers voted in to the KL Bar committee are Alvin Oh Seong Yew, Atan Mustaffa, Chen Yu Szen, Foong Cheng Leong, Jacky Loi, Muhendaran Suppiah, New Sin Yew, Nik Elin Nik Rashid, Shashi Devan and Vivek Sukumaran.

There were a total of 13 candidates for the KL Bar committee, including Aishah Aslah, Faidhur Rahman Abdul Hadi and Ismail Arifin, Ravin said. Suhaimi Harun, who like the three who failed to win a spot was touted as Amir Bahari's running mate, did not contest today.

According to a Twitter post by lawyer Syahredzan Johan, today's election results means that the KL Bar will be sending "an all female team" to the Bar Council for the first time.

Syahredzan was referring to Goh's win, as well as the voting in of Khaizan Sharizad Ab Razak to be the KL Bar's representative to the Bar Council.

Khaizan Sharizad or Sherrie is not however the first female lawyer to be elected to such a position, as Ravin confirmed that there had previously been a female KL Bar representative. She ran uncontested.

The Bar Council — which is the governing body of the Malaysian Bar which represents all lawyers in Peninsular Malaysia — includes both the chairman and state Bar representative of each state Bar. The Bar Council 2016/2017 line-up of 38 members includes 24 of such state Bar representatives and state Bar chairs.

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