Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Will the annual Australian lecture on ethics and standards for Malaysian lawyers include an explanation about community standards and the prestigious College Of Law's business in Malaysia?

by Ganesh Sahathevan

To mark the opening of the Australian Legal Year the Australian High Commission puts on a lecture by  prominent members  of the Australian legal system to which senior members of Malaysia's legal system are invited.

In March 2018 the lecture titled "The Rule of Law – What We Share and Must Defend" was delivered by Mdm Justice Michelle Gordon of the High Court, Australia's highest court.
The 2019 lecture was delivered by the President of the Law Council Of Australia, Arthur Moses SC. Delivered at the High Commissioner's residence the speech included this memorable line:

it has been 30 years since the 1988 Judicial Crisis, which saw the Lord President of the Supreme Court of Malaysia, Tun Salleh Abas, dismissed for “judicial misbehaviour”. His crime – speaking out publicly in defence of the judiciary. The crisis saw two other Supreme Court Judges also removed from the bench.

Two decades on, in 2008, an Eminent Persons Panel convened on the initiative of the Malaysian Bar found all three had been improperly removed from office, and that Prime Minister Mahathir’s involvement in the crisis had been "unmistakably a direct unabashed attack on the rule of law with intent to subdue, if not subvert, the independence of the judiciary"

As this writer pointed out, Mr Moses appeared to have missed more recent history when the Attorney General at the time, Abu Talib Othman went on record to clarify that it was he, under orders from the then King, who set in motion the process for the removal of the Chief Justice Salleh Abbas.As previously explained by this writer:

(Moses') direct attack on Mahathir is intriguing, given that he has been recently re-elected prime minister (despite it seems the disapproval of Mr Moses, the Australian Government, and the Australian legal fraternity), and given that over the the past 31 years much has been said by the key players in that incident, including the formerAttorney General Abu Talib Othman  who in January 2018 is reported to have said:
“However, he (Mahathir) was acting on the command of the then Yang di-Pertuan Agung Sultan Iskandar Sultan Ismail,” he said referring to the former Sultan of Johor.
Abu Talib said that he had seen the note – written and signed by the King – that was given to the PM commanding him to remove Salleh as Lord President and to replace Salleh with Abdul Hamid Omar.
“I went to see the PM and told him that neither he nor the King can remove a sitting Lord President, as that was against the constitution.
“It was a very challenging moment as the PM then asked, ‘can you ignore the command of the King?’. However, I advised and reminded him of the oath of office he took as PM to protect and defend the constitution,” he said.
Abu Talib said that Mahathir advised him to inform the King personally and he did that, going to Johor for the meeting.
“The King insisted that action be taken, despite me saying that neither him nor the PM could remove a sitting Lord President.
“He (the King) instead suggested that it be done in accordance with the constitution. So, I went back to the PM, and informed that any action taken must be done in compliance with the constitution......”
It is important to recall that Talib Othman made these public statements in January 2018 when almost everyone believed that then PM Najib Razak would be re-elected, despite Mahathir's determined (and eventually successful) challenge to Najib  and his party's control of the Malaysian Government. Malay politics dictate that punishment must follow any show of support for the opposition against the  ruling chieftain, and Talib would have understood that. 

Meanwhile, the Attorney General of NSW Mark Speakman, and the Chairman of the NSW Legal Profession Admission Board, Tom Bathusrt ( who is also Chief Justice NSW) have refused to explain their finding that Mahathir funded this writer in a project that involved ABC Four Corners airing a false story about former PM Najib Razak's role in the 1MDB theft. 

In fact, senior members of the Australian judiciary including the Chief Justice Of NSW seem to have formed the opinion that Najib Razak had been defamed and was justified in blocking access to stories, including those written by this writer, about Najib and the 1MDB theft. 

And then there is the matter of the College Of Law Sydney, very much part of the NSW legal establishment but was until last year determined to break into the Malaysian market.
The College went as far as to abuse the name of the Kitingan family to further its business interests in Malaysia but all that seems to have come to nothing ,and under mysterious circumstances (see story below).

The College and its CEO Neville Carter  have insisted that "community standards" excuse them from answering questions from this writer about their teaching standards, funding, and claims of having changed legal practise in Malaysia.


Bar Council education ‘JV’ must be clarified

By  , in Scandal on July 19, 2019 . Tagged width:  ,  , 

KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 – The Malaysian Bar Council launched its first education venture, a LLM in Malaysian Legal Practise (LLM), last year in collaboration with the College Of Law Australia.
The LLM does not seem to have the approval of Malaysia’s Legal Professional Qualifying Board (LPQB) but the website for the course, which is hosted in Australia, prominently displays the Bar Council crest.
bar council
The crest has not been used before to promote a course of study, and queries put to Bar Council President Fareed Gafoor about the use of the crest have been acknowledged but remain unanswered.
NMT has however sighted an email from Fareed dated Friday, May 24, 2019 with regards the LLM and the use of the crest where he states:
Dear Rajen,
We can’t remain silent on this.
Abdul Fareed Bin Abdul Gafoor
Sent from my iPad
It is understood that “Rajen” refers to  Rajen Devaraj, Chief Executive Officer of the Bar Council Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur.
The Bar has remained silent for nearly 2 months since.
Key person suddenly retired during extensive query
The College of Law used to be represented in Malaysia by its Director, Peter Tritt. Tritt have been queried extensively about the LLM and about the College’s business in Malaysia but has refused to provide answers. Tritt has been based in Kuala Lumpur since 2017 but announced on Friday that he had “retired” from the College on 30 June 2019.
It is understood that Tritt has forwarded queries sent him to his head office in Sydney and hence it appears that Tritt is under orders from his Chief Executive, Neville Carter, to remain silent.
Questionable advertising claims?
In advertising on the College’s website Carter has claimed that he had established a Professional Legal Training course for Malaysian Law students seeking admission to practise in Malaysia. There seems to be no evidence of such a course, or of any national level training course for the existing Certificate of Legal Practise.
Carter has also claimed to have produced the “inaugural” Handbook in Legal Practise for Malaysia, in the late 80s. A search of the main law libraries in Malaysia directed by the Chief Registrar, Federal Court Malaysia, has not found any such handbook.
He has also claimed to have, during that time to have identified and addressed “gaps” in Malaysian legal practise, but not even those in practice during that period and since have ever heard of him. Nor are senior practitioners aware of  “gaps” that needed that to be addressed by external consultants.
As CEO of the College Carter  has ultimate responsibility for the College’s Malaysian operation headed by Tritt and variously named the “College Of Law Asia Pacific” and the “College Of Law Asia”. A search by NMT has not revealed any entities registered under those names in Malaysia or in Australia, not even a foreign entities registered to conduct business in Malaysia.
Meanwhile the College, in collaboration with the Bar Council continues to sell its LLM and other courses in Malaysia, deriving a fee income from Malaysian courses.

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