Use of English in Anwar Trial

November 3, 1998

The Bar council refers to the news report in the SUN (3 Nov. 1998) on remarks attributed to the Honourable Deputy Minister in the Prime Ministerís Department about the Bar Councilís stand on the use of English in the Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim trial. The remarks are unjustified and it is obvious that the Honourable Deputy Minister has either misread or misunderstood the statement of the Bar Council. The Bar Councilís statement categorically states that the degree of English to be used at a trial is left to the discretion of the Judge under Section 8 of the National Language Act to be exercised in accordance with the interests of justice. The phrase Ďin the interests of justiceí is found in Section 8. The Deputy Minister has misunderstood this and fails to note that Bahasa by the same provision is declared as the language of the Courts.

In this regard, the Bar Council refers to the Statements attributed to the Deputy Minister in the STAR (2 Nov. 1998) calling on the Judge to resign and his subsequent clarification in the STAR of today (Nov. 3, 1998). The Bar Council states that at the very least the Honourable Deputy Minister as a member of the Executive should exercise greater care about his statements about judges or the Judiciary, whether rhetorical or not, so that it would not be seen as executive interference in the affairs of the Judiciary. The judiciary is an independent organ of the state and matters relating to judges are to be left to be handled by the Honourable Chief Justice in accordance with the Federal Constitution.

Dated : 3 November 1998

Dato' Dr. Cyrus Das, President, Malaysian Bar

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