PETALING JAYA: Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS) has refuted any suggestion of misconduct at a gala dinner for the legal fraternity in which Attorney General Tommy Thomas and Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum were seen dancing.
"We echo the views of the Sabah Law Society (SLS) president and refute any suggestion of impropriety as expressed by certain quarters of the video of members of the legal fraternity dancing on stage at the Opening of Legal Year gala dinner 2019.
"It was done in good taste and we congratulate our hosts for a job well done," it said in a statement on Sunday (Jan 20).
AAS president Ranbir Singh Sangha said the Opening of Legal Year for Sabah and Sarawak has been going on for many years and it was an annual event held every year alternating between the two states.
Sanga said the gala dinner was a celebratory tradition for Sabah and Sarawak, adding that it celebrated the achievements of the legal fraternity.
He added that the second half of 2018 as well as the beginning of 2019 has given the legal fraternity a cause to celebrate as there have been many legal reforms that have been brought about administratively for the benefit of Malaysians and the legal fraternity.
"We are wholly in agreement with the SLS president that the event held is the hallmark of a mature legal community and are equally as disappointed as the SLS that certain quarters are attempting to misinterpret what was a social and harmonious occasion reflective of our hospitality and politicise it for whatever reasons.
"Those who criticise may not know about the morals and ethics that are culturally held high in Sabah and Sarawak at such events," he said.
Sanga also hoped that the legal fraternity would not feel constrained by those unwarranted and unsubstantiated criticisms to dance at future annual social events.
He said the association will continue to invite Malanjum, Thomas and judges to enter into a dance competition with advocates and other guests at next year's Opening of Legal Year which will be held in Sarawak.
The video of Thomas and Malanjum was recorded during a gala dinner, which was hosted by SLS in conjunction with the Opening of Legal Year 2019, at a hotel in Kota Kinabalu on Friday (Jan 18).
Thomas and Malanjum were seen dancing to a popular 1960s rock 'n roll tune "Let's Twist Again" by Chubby Checker.
Also seen dancing at the gala dinner was Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of law Datuk Liew Vui Keong and prominent lawyers and activists Datuk S. Ambiga and Siti Kasim.
Previously, SLS president Brenndon Soh said the event had been held since 2001 and was a hallmark of the legal community, adding that they had faith that society was mature enough to recognise that the individuals in the video were able to separate their professional life from their personal ones.
On Saturday (Jan 19), Umno Youth chief Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said the incident was an embarrassment to the judicial and legal system of the country as members of the legal system must display sensitivity when engaging each other during social interactions.
Social media users have also stood up for the event participants, including Thomas and Malanjum.
They described the matter as "normal and harmless" with some asking what was the issue with lawyers and judges letting their hair down in a closed-door function for the legal fraternity.