Malaysian Bar Association: Comprehensive environmental laws needed after devastating floods last month

PUTRAJAYA (January 14): The Malaysian Bar Association said on Friday (January 14) that there is an immediate need to formulate comprehensive environmental laws and a sustainable framework that provides sufficient protection for people and the environment, after the floods devastating attacks that swept the country last month.

Speaking at the opening of the judicial year 2022 at the Courthouse here, its President AG Kalidas Krishnan said in his keynote address that while it is a basic right under the Federal Constitution for people to live in a safe, clean, healthy and environmentally sustainable society, the country is seriously underprepared for flooding.

“The human right to live in a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a fundamental right as enshrined in Article 5 of the Federal Constitution; yet, as a country, we were severely underprepared for the floods which exposed multiple systemic failures,” he said.

“The floods make us realize that there is a need to formulate comprehensive environmental legislation and a sustainable framework that provides sufficient protection for people and the environment,” he said at the ceremony, which was attended by Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun and Chief Justice of Malaysia Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.

He also stressed the need to empower positions of power in the civil service through close cooperation between the people and the government.

“It is only through close cooperation between citizens and their government and with appropriate accountability that we can come up with effective measures to ensure that we are better prepared to face current and future challenges,” he said. he declares. “We must approach any excision of permanent and reserved forests with awareness and vigilance.”

Judicial independence is sacrosanct in upholding the rule of law

Kalidas added that the judiciary must not be allowed to be tarnished by interference in judicial affairs from outside parties.

He referred to a press conference by former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who shortly before his resignation as prime minister last year said he was under pressure from ‘some parties’ to intervene in court cases to free several people. of criminal charges.

Muhyiddin had said in a televised address to the nation that he had not complied with these demands. “This included pushing for me to intervene in court cases to release several people charged with criminal offences.”

Kalidas said it is the responsibility of each of the nation’s institutions to ensure no one is above the law.

“It is the responsibility of each of our institutions to ensure that no one is above the law, regardless of their political or social affiliation.

“Judicial independence is sacrosanct and is the cornerstone of a fair and impartial judicial system that is necessary to uphold the rule of law and inspire public confidence. It must not be allowed to be tarnished, and the importance of a justice system that is free from interference in a democracy cannot be overstated,” he added.

Constitutional rights must be respected and not wantonly sacrificed because of Covid-19

Kalidas also said constitutional rights such as freedom of movement, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly must be respected and not sacrificed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He alluded to peaceful movements organized last year such as the Code Black and Black Monday campaigns by doctors who were fighting for their contracts with the government as well as the #Lawan assembly, saying that these instances of free speech and assembly were not prohibited by the government.

“A member of our Bar Association present that day [at the #Lawan assembly]employees of an international news agency seeking investigative journalism, and even members of parliament have reportedly been investigated by the police,”

He noted that as long as the Covid-19 sanitary measures are respected, citizens must be allowed to express their disagreement.

“…the ability to express dissent is the hallmark of a functioning democracy. It enables intellectual discourse and facilitates important socio-political issues. This is integral to ensuring an active civil society and an informed public.

“Institutions – including the bar – should not shy away from offering constructive criticism.”

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