Alleged Personal Info Leak Online Attacks Mar Bar Council Election
A lawyer has lamented the toxic environment that is besetting the ongoing Bar Council election, which has been marred by vicious online attacks and alleged leak of personal information.
Young lawyer Farhan Haziq (above) has been grappling with these issues when he purportedly received a message from an unknown number, promoting a specific team of lawyers running for the election.
He then went to his Facebook page and on Nov 17 uploaded a post questioning how the leak had happened, while tagging the Malaysian Bar in the post.
Farhan enclosed in the posting a screenshot purportedly of a message from the unknown number, which asked the receiver to vote for the certain team running in the Bar Council election.
“Hopefully, there would be an explanation from the Bar Council over the spread of the message,” he posted.
When Malaysiakini reached out to him today, Farhan expressed surprise at how the leak could have happened, to the extent of being used to send messages that promote only a certain team running for the election.
“This is new as it has never happened before, when previous Bar elections that do not involve teams but individual (candidates),” said Farhan, who is not contesting in the election.
“Suddenly, I and a few people have received the messages. We tried to investigate the number’s (origin) but could not (find out who the sender is). They (the messages) promoted only one team,” he said.
He explained that there are only two teams contesting in the Bar Council election at present.
Farhan expressed concern that this incident not only involved the leakage of the personal information of the Bar members, but was also part of the bigger problem of the toxic environment which had engulfed the Bar Council election.
“The Bar Council should explain how could this giving out of information (had happened),” he said.
This is particularly so as the messages were not only received by him but also, he said, by other lawyers he knew.
Farhan explained that the messages also seemed to only promote a single team contesting in the Bar Council election, and this also raised concern about the independence of the Bar.
“I have reported to the MCMC on the day itself (upon receiving the message) and shared the number (which sent him the message) to MCMC,” he said.
Farhan claimed that the Bar Council election campaign has turned toxic, with friends taking part in the election having been targeted with vicious messages online.
“Some friends running in the election have been hit (online) with accusations of supporting a liberal movement. It has become toxic,” he said.
He added that accusations of being anti-Islam and so fourth had also been hurled around during the campaigning, which further fuelled the toxic environment surrounding the election campaign.
“It has become toxic as there are teams that (allegedly) support the government or opposition. It has become too partisan.
“The Bar should condemn this practice as we should focus on the welfare of lawyers.
“I am okay with the sending of messages to lawyers, but they must promote both teams, not just one team,” Farhan said, adding that the campaign should focus on brotherhood and comradeship.
Through a Facebook post uploaded yesterday, lawyer Surendra Ananth (photo), who is taking part in the Bar Council election, slammed online attacks against him which involved allegations linked to Syariah law.
The posting was also enclosed with screenshots of two Facebook posts that contain the allegations.
The enclosed FB post screenshots were on his handling of two Federal Court appeals, one involving a legal challenge over the Syariah jurisdiction on unnatural sex, and the other over an appeal involving Syariah jurisdiction over the review of fatwa.
“It is really distasteful that the BC (Bar Council) election has come to this. A lawyer should not be condemned for carrying out his professional duties.
“This is more so when the cases mentioned are pending in court and where the Federal Court has determined that there are merits in the challenges,” Surendra’s posting states.
When contacted by Malaysiakini, Malaysian Bar President Salim Bashir condemned the vicious attacks by certain quarters during the Bar Council election campaigning.
Bar Council president Salim Bashir
While saying that the Bar has no knowledge of the information leak, Salim said it does not tolerate any such incident of personal information leak during the election campaign.
"This is the internal election, among Bar members. I herein advise that Bar Council election should not be riddled with disparaging remarks and personal attacks against any individuals contesting.
"The Bar Council condemns any form of smearing campaigns along racial lines, or based on types of cases undertaken by candidates or by any members in the course of their professional duty as advocates and solicitors.
"The Bar Council refutes knowledge and will not tolerate any breach of Bar members' personal information being used for campaigning, and urge candidates or any members to come forward and provide Bar Council of such instances," Salim said.
According to the Malaysian Bar portal, Surendra is among the contenders for 12 openings in the Bar Council for the term 2021/2022.
It also states that the results of the election are expected to be delivered on Dec 1. - Mkini
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