Malaysian Bar returns to Opening of Legal Year after sit out

President of the Malaysian Bar Council, George Varughese, speaks to reporters during press conference in Putrajaya June 11, 2018. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
President of the Malaysian Bar Council, George Varughese, speaks to reporters during press conference in Putrajaya June 11, 2018. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 — The Malaysian Bar will attend the Opening of the Legal Year ceremony organised by the judiciary after being absent last year, its president George Varughese confirmed.

When contacted by Malay Mail today, George confirmed that the Malaysian Bar will be present at the annual event this year on January 11 in Putrajaya.

The first edition of the annual event — which typically involves the judiciary, the attorney-general's chambers and the Malaysian Bar — was held in 2010.

The Malaysian Bar had decided not to attend the Opening of the Legal Year last January 12, after disagreements with the judiciary over George’s intention to mention the allegedly unconstitutional extension of the terms of then Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif and President of Court of Appeal Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin beyond the constitutional age limit of 66 years and six months.

Following the Malaysian Bar's refusal to be censored, the Opening of the Legal Year's format was last year changed to remove the customary speeches of the Malaysian Bar president and attorney-general and retaining only a slot for a speech by the Chief Justice.

In response, the Malaysian Bar's governing body Bar Council had declined to attend the event that was renamed Judicial Year, and had instead held a Bar Council dinner on January 11 in conjunction with the Opening of the Legal Year.

In June, Raus and Zulkefli announced that they would resign ahead of their extended terms that were due to end in August 2020 and September 2019 respectively.

They were replaced in July by Tan Sri Richard Malanjum as Chief Justice of Malaysia and by Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop as President of the Court of Appeal, who are both within the constitutional age limit.

News portal FreeMalaysiaToday today reported Varughese saying that he will be delivering a speech in his given slot during the Opening of the Legal Year 2019.

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