Bar AGM: Alcohol ban motion defeated, lawyer drops bid to censure Siti Kasim

By Ida Lim
Screengrab of Amir Bahari from his campaign video for the KL Bar election. Amir had promised to ‘Islamise’ and make the KL Bar Shariah-compliant by discontinuing the serving of alcohol at its events. — Picture via YouTube/Amir Bahari

KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 ― Lawyers today voted down a proposal to stop serving alcohol at Malaysian Bar events, while another pushing for condemnation of lawyer Siti Kasim's conduct was also withdrawn.

Malay Mail Online understands that over 580 lawyers present at the Malaysian Bar's 71st Annual General Meeting (AGM) today rejected lawyer Mohd Amir Sharil Bahari Md Noor's motion for the professional body to discontinue the serving of alcohol at its events.

Sources told Malay Mail Online that 16 lawyers abstained from voting, while fewer than 10 members of the professional body for all lawyers in Peninsular Malaysia voted in favour of stopping the serving of alcohol at its events.

Malay Mail Online also learnt that the lawyer also known as Amir Bahari had withdrawn his motion against Siti over the uploading of a video on Facebook.

Amir Bahari had, in his proposed motion, claimed that serving alcohol would unnecessarily inflate the cost of events by up to 40 per cent, and alleged that “all major religions” prohibit the consumption of alcohol.

Noting that excessive alcohol consumption could result in harm and addiction, Amir Bahari said this brought into question the serving of alcohol at Malaysian Bar functions.

In his election campaign last month for the Kuala Lumpur Bar committee chairman post, Amir Bahari had promised to “Islamise” and make the KL Bar Shariah-compliant by discontinuing the serving of alcohol at its events.

He previously told Malay Mail Online that the serving of alcohol did not “reflect the culture of plural society”, asserting that the practice made Muslim lawyers uncomfortable to attend such events and deterred them from being more involved in the KL Bar.

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

According to the Malaysian Bar 2016/2017 annual report presented at the AGM today, there are approximately 17,460 registered as the professional body’s members as of the end of 2016, with a diverse mix of ethnicity, namely Malays (41 per cent), Chinese (39 per cent), Indians (16 per cent), Punjabi (three per cent), Eurasian and others (one per cent).

Amir Bahari’s proposed motions are part of six motions that were expected to come up for debate at the Malaysian Bar’s AGM today.

George Varughese, who was newly elected as Malaysian Bar president, said 841 members attended today’s AGM.

When asked about the withdrawal of the motion on Siti Kasim’s alleged public sharing of proceedings from the Kuala Lumpur Bar’s AGM last month, he said the motion was academic as the matter was already before the disciplinary board.

George said an “overwhelming majority” of attendees today also voted in favour of four other motions focusing on issues such as deaths in police custody, laws allowing detention without trial and the Orang Asli community’s land rights.

The incoming Bar Council that started its term today will look into and act on the resolutions that have been passed at the Malaysian Bar’s 71st AGM, he said.