Former Dewan Rakyat Speaker Ariff appointed chairman of disciplinary board for Peninsular Malaysia’s lawyers

Former Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof addresses reporters during a press conference in Parliament July 13, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Former Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof addresses reporters during a press conference in Parliament July 13, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 — Retired judge Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, who was also the former Dewan Rakyat Speaker, has been appointed as chairman of the Advocates and Solicitors Disciplinary Board (ASDB), an independent body that adjudicates on complaints of professional misconduct by lawyers, pupils and foreign lawyers in Peninsular Malaysia.

According to the ASDB’s website, Ariff was appointed to the position on February 19.

Former ASDB board member Datuk Roger Tan said that Ariff has all the prerequisites to succeed in the role.

“Ariff has all the knowledge, experience, standing and judicial temperament fit for the job which requires him to uphold public interest and at the same time to stay impartial and fair to lawyers whose reputation and livelihood are at stake,” Tan said.

When contacted by Malay Mail, Malaysian Bar president Salim Bashir congratulated Ariff on his appointment as chairman of the disciplinary board.

“Tan Sri Datuk Ariff brings along his vast and sterling experience of being a former judge of Court of Appeal, and former Dewan Rakyat Speaker to occupy the position as chairman of ASDB.

“The Malaysian Bar welcomes his appointment ,and look forward to work along with him and the board members in ensuring fast disposal of any pending complaints in the ASDB,” he said.      

“The Malaysian Bar also takes this opportunity to record our heartfelt appreciation to the outgoing ASDB Chairman Datuk Abdul Raman Saad, for his tireless dedication, service and hardwork, he has contributed immensely to the progress and reform of the ASDB.We wish him the best of health,” added Salim, who has also been a member of the board since March 14, 2020 in his position as Malaysian Bar president.

Based on cached versions of the ASDB website, Ariff’s immediate predecessor Abdul Raman was first appointed as the board’s chairman on July 5, 2015 and was reappointed to the same position on February 17, 2017.

Under the Legal Profession Act’s Section 93, the ASDB chairman is appointed by the Chief Judge of Malaya after consultation with the Bar Council for a term of two years, with such an appointment extendable and renewable.

The ASDB chairman is required under Section 93 to be a retired judge of the High Court, Court of Appeal or Federal Court or to be a person who is qualified to hold such judicial positions.

Also sitting on the ASDB board under Section 93 are the president of the Malaysian Bar or any Bar Council member as his representative, and 15 lawyers of the Malaysian Bar with at least 10 years’ standing appointed by the Chief Judge of Malaya after consultation with the Bar Council.

Also under the Legal Profession Act’s Section 94, the ASDB ― which was established in 1992 and is independent of the Malaysian Bar ― has the power to impose such penalties on lawyers found guilty of misconduct, including reprimanding or censuring them, fining them up to RM50,000, suspend them as a lawyer for up to five years, or have them struck off the roll or to bar someone from practising as a lawyer.

Based on publicly-available information from the Malaysian Parliament’s website and the law firm Chooi & Company + Cheang & Ariff and ASDB’s website, the 72-year-old Ariff was born in Kedah, with a Bachelor’s degree and Masters degree for law both from the University of London (London School of Economics).

He became a barrister in the UK as a member of Lincoln’s Inn in 1974 and became a law lecturer in 1974 and later an associate professor and deputy dean of University of Malaya’s law faculty, before becoming a lawyer in Peninsular Malaysia in 1986 and one of the founding partners of the law firm Cheang & Ariff.

Other positions he had held over the years include being the first director of the Securities of Commission of Malaysia’s market supervision department which included the audit, investigation and prosecution of security offences from 1993 to 1995.

Practising as a private lawyer until September 2008, Ariff became a judicial commissioner in the High Court from September 2008 to October 2009, before becoming a High Court judge from October 2009 to September 2012, and a Court of Appeal judge from September 2012 to January 21, 2015 which was when he retired at the age of 66.

He then became a consultant at the law firm Cheang & Ariff from April 2015 to July 2018, before serving as Dewan Rakyat speaker from July 2018 to July 2020, and subsequently becoming a consultant again at the merged law firm Chooi & Company + Cheang & Ariff.

On July 13, the Dewan Rakyat approved a motion tabled by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to remove Ariff as the Dewan Rakyat speaker, with 111 yays to 109 nays recorded in voting by Dewan Rakyat MPs.

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