Law minister says can’t unwrap IRC recommendations yet

Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong speaks to reporters after the opening of the legal year 2019 in Putrajaya January 11, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong speaks to reporters after the opening of the legal year 2019 in Putrajaya January 11, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 11 — Two legal professional bodies today urged the government to publicly release the Institutional Reforms Committee’s (IRC) recommendations to reform public institutions, but law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong said it is still under wraps for now.

George Varughese, president of the Malaysian Bar which represents all lawyers in peninsular Malaysia, commended the government for forming the IRC as part of steps taken to strengthen the country’s institutions and safeguard their independence.

“For a better and more inclusive consultative process, the Malaysian Bar calls upon the Government to publish the report of the Committee to obtain feedback from the rakyat,” he said in his speech at the opening of the new legal year 2019 here.

He noted that the Bar Council submitted 55 proposals to the IRC, including suggested reforms for seven institutions — Parliament, the Election Commission (EC), the judiciary, the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC), the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC), the police and enforcement agencies, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

Brenndon Keith Soh, president of Sabah Law Society, said the professional body representing Sabah’s lawyers backed the Malaysian Bar’s suggestions on reforms in the country.

“In this respect, the Sabah Law Society would similarly and wholeheartedly advocate for the public disclosure of the full report by the Committee on Institutional Reforms.

“This would not only be in line with our notion of an open, accountable and responsive government, but would also go a long way towards increasing public awareness and healthy deliberation of the recommendations made for the strengthening of our institutions,” he said in a speech at the same event.

But law minister Liew who was also present at the event, later told reporters that the IRC’s report is currently not made available publicly.

“The report at the moment is still with the Cabinet, so we have not decided to make it public yet,” the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department replied when asked if it would be released publicly.

Liew noted however that the government has already started taking action on the IRC’s recommendations to improve government institutions.

Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum today also said the judiciary had undertaken various reforms in response to the recommendations by the IRC, including by switching from a top-down approach to a collective leadership style by the top four judges in the judiciary.