Muslim lawyer revives alcohol ban bid for Malaysian Bar AGM

A YouTube screengrab of lawyer Mohd Amir Sharil Bahari Md Noor. He submitted a fresh proposal to be raised at the professional body's 72nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) this Saturday.
A YouTube screengrab of lawyer Mohd Amir Sharil Bahari Md Noor. He submitted a fresh proposal to be raised at the professional body's 72nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) this Saturday.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 ― Lawyer Mohd Amir Sharil Bahari Md Noor has mounted a second attempt to push the Malaysian Bar to ban serving alcoholic drinks at its events, but with a clear call this time for his fellow Muslim colleagues to support his bid.

Mohd Amir had failed last year to get the Malaysian Bar to agree to the alcohol ban. He submitted a fresh proposal to be raised at the professional body's 72nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) this Saturday.

In the proposed motion sighted by Malay Mail, Amir Bahari as he is also known said his proposal was based on verses from the al-Quran and al-Sunnah or teachings ascribed to the Muslims' revered Prophet Muhammad, listing 11 of them down.

“We, each and every Muslim, faithful, and devout lawyers are bound by all the clear laws enshrined in the Quran, which are absolute laws laid down by Allah, and were taught and realised through the deeds of Muhammad, the true messenger of Allah,” he then said in the seven-page motion dated March 7 and which was written in Malay.

He went on to say that each Muslim lawyer should attend the Malaysian Bar AGM to back his motion, adding that they should be mindful that they will be questioned during divine judgement on what they had done to ensure the motion is voted through.

“That each and every Muslim, faithful, and devout lawyers who have the Shahadah in their hearts, and are the People of the Book, if not incapacitated Shariah-wise, will attend to support this motion even if we have to crawl, to attend from the start to the end of the Malaysian Bar AGM on Saturday March 17, 2018, and to damn all whispers of Satan and the devil, regardless of our skin colour, whether turbaned or not, our race, and lineage.

“That each and every Muslim, faithful, and devout lawyers who have the Shahadah in their hearts, and are the People of the Book, if not incapacitated Shariah-wise, and are the People of the Book, know that on Judgement Day and the Apocalypse, will be questioned on their role in ensuring this motion is passed on Saturday, March 17, 2018,” said Mohd Amir, a lawyer practising in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

He concluded by urging the Malaysian Bar to vote on this proposed resolution:

“With the Shahadah, it is hereby decided and made mandatory that the Malaysian Bar with all its powers as enshrined in the Legal Profession Act 1976, forbids all elements of the filth that is liquor, and all drinks and food that contain alcohol, or intoxicants, in all events organised by the Malaysian Bar and bodies that fall under its jurisdiction with immediate effect.”

He ended his proposed motion with a three-time repeat of the word “Takbir”, a phrase meaning “Praise be to God”, which has been increasingly used as a rallying cry for Muslims during public demonstrations.

The proposed motion was accompanied by the signatures of 25 Malaysian Bar members said to be supportive of his motion.

This motion is one of seven motions put forward by Mohd Amir, with the rest involving his call for the Malaysian Bar to condemn the conduct of six of his fellow lawyers, including two lawyers whom he was seeking an apology from.

A total of 15 motions were proposed for the members of the Malaysian Bar to vote on this Saturday. All were written in English except for the motion against serving alcoholic drinks.

Other motions proposed by other lawyers involve matters such as proposals to push for the total abolition of death penalty in Malaysia; to promote judicial independence; for a viability study of electronic voting as a supplement to postal voting for Bar Council elections; and to push for reforms on laws such as on disqualification from being an MP or contesting for such posts.

The quorum for the Malaysian Bar AGM will be met if 500 members show up. According to the Malaysian Bar's website, the number of lawyers throughout peninsular Malaysia including the Federal Territories number 21,136 as of February 12, 2018.

It is unclear how many Muslims are part of the Malaysian Bar, but its 2016/2017 annual report released last year had shown a diverse mix of ethnicity in the 17,460 members registered as of end of 2016. There were Malays (41 per cent), Chinese (39 per cent), Indians (16 per cent), Punjabi (3 per cent), Eurasian and others (1 per cent).

The previous attempt

In Amir Bahari's first attempt at the Malaysian Bar's 71st AGM last March, Malay Mail reported sources as saying that over 580 of the lawyers present had rejected his motion for the professional body to discontinue the serving of alcohol at its events, with 16 abstaining from voting, and less than 10 lawyers believed to have voted in favour.

Lawyer Syahredzan Johan had last year pointed out that alcohol is not served at most of the Malaysian Bar's events and not included in ticket prices paid by lawyers, clarifying that the alcohol was either sponsored or paid for by lawyers who partake.

Syahredzan had said the portrayal that alcohol was abundantly available at such events were “inaccurate and distorts reality”.

Mohd Amir had also promised last year to Islamise and make the Kuala Lumpur Bar Shariah-compliant by discontinuing the serving of alcohol at its events, pitching this as part of his campaign then to be voted as Kuala Lumpur Bar committee chairman. In the three-corner fight, lawyer Goh Siu Lin was instead voted in and became the first woman to chair the KL Bar.

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