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PEOPLE POWER? you ain't seen nothing yet!

            vote On the 8th March,  something happened at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Penang Bar, which we had not seen in a long, long time. A contest!

               Used to be, the Chairmanship was handed down from one Chairman to another, with few exceptions, not very democractic. On the 8th, it was a 4 corner fight, nearly a five corner, but for a last minute pull out by an undecided candidate. It was unique, in that it pitted a woman against 3 men, and what do you know? A woman carried the day, with a respectable majority! Talk of women's lib! And to top it off, the Chairperson (we have to be politically correct) was the youngest and the most junior of all the 4 candidates! It probably tasted of a coup detat to some candidates!

            But, the demographics of the Penang Bar, and in fact also the Malaysian Bar have shifted to the young. purportedly comprising 70 per cent of the total membership. Members of the Bar below 7 years standing, are not entitle to stand for positions in the Bar. And this has been a sore point. For the uninitiated, this "rule" came in because the powers that be, felt that with an increasing younger Bar, it would also be a rebellous one. Among the reforms that were brought in were, inter alia (as lawyers like to say) the rule that only those with 7 years standing could stand, although they could vote. It was also introduced, the rule, that members who hold official positions in political parties (active or otherwise) are disqualified from holding office!

            It cannot be said that the other candidates did not offer an alternative, they did. You had the choice of the status quo, the old guard, the fringe and the reformist, a choice not seen for a long long time. A most controversial contest.

            For once, there was no fear of a lack of quorum! The minimum number was easily achieved, in fact the organizers had to put in more chairs, and members were standing. The same cannot be said of a similar AGM of the Kuala Lumpur Bar, which was called off for not being able to achieve a quorum. This is so, even though the majority of the membership of the Bar is in the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor area. Maybe, the solution is to put up a few "controversial" candidates. The only irregularity (which is not foundation of a preliminary objection) was that a few ballot papers were "accidentally" handed to chambering students, but that did not really effect the outcome of the votes. Hopefully, the in-coming committee would look into it that in future no such "irregularity" arise, or we will face an election petition of some sort!

            To the unsuccessful candidates, who have an agenda, apart from the obvious, remember Robert Bruce and his encounter with the spider, try, try and try again!


                                                                                                                 Overheard in the Canteenaemail