KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Bar has committed to eradicate all forms of sexual harassment within the legal profession.
Its newly-elected president A.G. Kalidass said they would also take steps to ensure a safe working space within the profession.
He said they would be work on and establish best practices for the support and reporting of sexual harassment complaints, discrimination and workplace conditions.
"We acknowledge that this is a very important issue and we cannot be in denial. We must make sure there is a place for victims to come and complain," he said during a press conference on Saturday (March 13) after the conclusion of the Malaysian Bar's 75th annual general meeting that was conducted virtually for the first time ever.
A motion to clarify the validity of the Bar Council's sexual harassment mechanism was one of nine discussed in the AGM, participated by 1,268 of its members.
Kalidass said he believed that many harassment victims faced the difficulty of not knowing where to turn to.
"We intend to make it clear that we will be working on what is best for our members to ensure all these complaints are channelled to the right place," he said.
He said that if many people were talking about the issue, then there was a need to do something about it.
Kalidass said they would come up with a ruling on the issue soon but that they would have to be careful as they want to act within the rule of law.
Among other issues discussed in the AGM were a motion on the Emergency Ordinance, a motion to abolish child marriages in the country and a motion condemning the recent repatriation of refugees.
Kalidass also said that it was very likely that they would institute legal proceedings challenging the proclamation of emergency and the Emergency Ordinance.
He also said that they needed to look inwards to their profession, especially those involving bread-and-butter issues.
"We are aware of what is happening out there. We want to look at ways to lessen the burden on our members. Hopefully, this year will be a better year," he said.
Besides Kalidas, the other three Malaysian Bar committee members elected by the 38 new council members upon the conclusion of the AGM were vice-president Surinder Singh, secretary Shahareen Begum and treasurer Murshidah Mustafa.