Tuesday, 30 November 2010

End of Election Month

The Bar Council election to elect the new Committee for the next term, ends today. 

Come what may, this being the first attempt of mine to get elected has opened my eyes (& ears) to people's views & comments. Only when one runs for election, would one be able to feel the pulse of the members & embrace their views. 

It is amazing how the members would open up to a candidate for a BC election the moment they hear that I am running for a place. Some would immediately launch into an attack of BC. Some would praise BC. Some would just tell you want they want BC to do. But the members always, have something to say. 

What the election has impressed upon me, is the level of expectation expected from a member of a BC member. Whoever elected for BC next term, may have to work on these expectations. Some of the expectations are not realistic; but some are genuine (& unfortunately BC may not have met their expectations).

At the end of the day; this is a volunteer work. But I ran for a place at BC because I enjoy organising things & getting things done. I want to see things change. I want to improve the Bar. And the last few years; I feel I have done that at KL Bar. Even if not elected: knowing how I feel about the Bar; I will still serve the Bar.

Of course some members have said that a BC member (volunteer or not) has to take the flak from member because no one ask that person to run for election; and that person inflicted it upon him/herself. That is a point I would agree. If I ask you to vote for me: I would do whatever I can do ensure that moral authority of that vote would not go to waste. And hopefully; I wont fail or at least I wont fail too badly. 

With the results to be announced in a the days to come; I wanted to pen this down to thank the many many friends who spoke out in support; send me sms/facebook messages (informing me they have voted for me), the twitter supports etc etc. Actually; there are no winners at the election; as the only one who wins are the members who bothered to bother. Members who cared to care. Members who talked the talk. The election allowed the members to speak up and speak out. Democracy won at the end of the day. 

Elected or not; the election month have been an one interesting for me. Thank you!

(Pardon the "I" in the above posting. Its not good to write with many "I" but this one is to emphasis my personal feelings)

SMI 1990 reunion

After many months of planning and preparation, my school mates of St Michael's Institution, class of SPM 1990 finally met. 20 years after completing our SPM in 1990, we meet on 27th Nov 2010. 

Initially we wanted to meet at Ipoh but after much consideration, we all met at PJ Hilton. About 70 of us met up and I must say it was fantastic to meet so many old friends. 



Hopefully we can meet again, but we dont need to wait for 20 years. 

Quis Ut Deus



Sunday, 7 November 2010

Updated version : Candidate Watch 2010

Dear readers (particularly members of the Bar)

Below is an updated version of the Candidate Watch questions posed to Bar Council election candidates. The updated version took into account some constructive and concerned comments from fellow members of the Bar.

However, the original version uploaded a few days ago, remains on this Blog and can be seen below.

Hopefully this updated version would clarify some issues raised by members.

My thanks to members who shown concerns and desire for a better Bar, and posing some challenging and difficult questions to me.

Regards,
Richard Wee




(As at 7/11/2010)

Kuala Lumpur Young Lawyers Committee
Candidate Watch Campaign

List of questions


1. In not more than 80 words, please provide a brief introduction about yourself and how you perceive yourself as a legal practitioner.

Currently, I'm a partner at Richard Wee & Yip, and our practice leans towards litigation services. Our fellow peers would best judge of the kind of practitioner I am. Nevertheless, the principle of a fair and honest practice guides me


2. Which committee would you seek to chair and what are your aspirations and intentions for the said committee during your tenure? If you do not intend to chair a committee, please state your reasons for the same and tell us what do you intend to achieve during your tenure as a Council Member?

Honestly, any Committee will do, though currently, I am inclined to chair the National Young Lawyers Committee (NYLC).

Regardless of my preferences, any committee tasked to me would be reviewed and eventually changes will be made and projects with long term gains will be implemented.


Whenever I am involved in committees at the Bar, i would ensure such long term gains will continue to flourish even when a new Chair takes over.

Should I chair NYLC, it would be imperative to reform NYLC into a policy making Committee, acting as a “Representative Committee”, to represent and ventilate the views of the younger members at Council. For example, the current Court system has adversely imposed itself on the lives of lawyers. I feel that perhaps the NYLC should communicate with the Judiciary t resolve issues affecting our young lawyers, who are spending far too much time waiting at Court and not enough time providing quality legal services.


3. The issue of setting a term limit for members serving the Bar Council has attracted many supporters as well as detractors. Do you think that there should be a term limit for members to be in the Bar Council? Please provide reasons for your answer.

Definitely a term ought to be fixed. Issues such as how long a term, or how long must a Council member be on ‘sabbatical’ before returning to Bar Council, needs further deliberation. However, I am inclined to support any motion to limit the term of a Council member to no more than 4 terms and perhaps a year off, before allowing that member to return.

While I support this principle, allow me to state that I have been fortunate to work with some Council members who have been at Council for a few years already, and they are hardworking and genuinely wants to improve the Bar. Nonetheless, without casting any aspersions on these senior Council members, my personal view is that (generally speaking) a fixed term policy would be more positive to ensure fresh and alternative lawyers are able to serve on the Council.



4. Based on feedback received, many Young Lawyers are leaving the profession because of perceived deteriorating working conditions at the Bar. What are your views about the working conditions that Young Lawyers are being subjected to and how would you seek to improve these conditions?

Back in 2005, the YLC then made a survey and found that a significant number of young lawyers left the Bar by their 3rd year in practise. The usual lament received by the YLC at that time was the long working hours and imbalanced lifestyle.

The Bar (perhaps through NYLC) should revisit the matter of working conditions. Back in 2007/08 a Survey was done by NYLC on this issue and that survey can be revisited and reviewed.

If the younger members feel practise is overwhelming, the Bar may consider taking steps to equalise that. Perhaps dialogues with employers may be a solution to explore.

However, in fairness, I also wish to put forward the view that fresh lawyers, must also learn to adapt to the system they are in. Working life is tough, and that's a given. We have to continually examine our lifestyle and be honest with ourselves and understand the nature of our work. Whether we are efficient or are able to improve, these are questions which we have to constantly thrust on ourselves.

We cannot simply point towards tough working conditions and hope for the Council to be our saviour. Although the Council should look out for its lawyers’ wellbeing, a line has to be drawn between equalising a situation and babysitting a lawyer.


5. The Johor Bar and the Penang Bar have recently held EGMs, inter alia, to obtain feedback in relation to the Fast Track System implemented by the judiciary which places emphasis on a Key Performance Index (“KPI”). Has the quality of justice dispensed by the Courts suffered as a result of the KPI that has been put into place? What would you do to improve the situation?

Litigation used to be slow. It took years to finish one case, in the former system.

But now, cases are moving so fast, sometimes, I feel like the Road Runner when I am Court. Running here and there, just to attend to matters at Court.

Nevertheless, the Judiciary’s newly acquired desire to move things fast, should be retained. However, the new system must be in aid of justice, not mere expediency at the expense of fairness.

We should be debating on new principles of law in Court, and not whether an adjournment can be granted (especially when another Court wants to hear a case on the same day.)

What would I do? Well, it’s too late to revert to the old system, so we must just tweak the current format to work. Solutions can range from dialogues with Judiciary and (if need be) a mass protest at Court (though I hope we can avoid the latter and only do that as a final resort)



6. Do you think the Solicitor’s Remuneration Order (SRO) has achieved the objectives it was put in place for? Do you think more should be done by the Bar Council to ensure adherence to the SRO or alternatively, should the SRO be done away with all together?

For the record, I am in support of the SRO and would support any proposal to fully enforce the SRO.

In principle, the SRO was always meant to help the people, so that when they engage the services of a lawyer to purchase property, they would know how much to pay. The SRO is to ensure that lawyers compete on quality & and not price. If all our fees are the same, then we should be competing on who is better at delivering their services, instead on who is giving a better discount. I would have thought that, that would be the ideal way to practise.

But in reality discount-giving transactions are rampant, and for that reason many firms who do not give discounts, do not offer conveyancing services as their primary service.

Can an enforcement rule be imposed? I would say, it is not logical to spend so much time and effort just to ensure members don’t give discount. The Bar has tried hard in recent years to ensure SRO will be complied but the effort seems in vain (particularly taking into account the recent High Court decision declaring the SRO Enforcement rules to be void).

Perhaps the Bar would have to leave it to members to sort it out and eventually do away with the SRO.

My personal message to lawyers who provide huge discounts to bring in the ‘bulk work’ is this - when a lawyer compromises on price too much, eventually quality will be compromised too. And the only one who suffers, is the client. If you (for example) wish other professionals, like Doctors, to treat us well when we are ill, then please think of the same when you do the Conveyancing matter. You too are a professional, and you should ensure all the papers are in order to protect the interest of that client. But I suppose if some lawyers can still do that AND give discounts, then we should just leave it at that.


7. What are your views on the failure of the Attorney-General to bring charges against the individuals named by the Royal Commission of Inquiry in their findings on the leaked video-clips vis a vis judicial appointments? What action do you propose the Bar Council take?

Its extremely disappointing that in the face of an obvious indiscretion (and what more confirmed by the Royal Commission themselves) the AG decided not to charge those individuals.

The Bar Council already ‘walked’ at Putrajaya when the video first appeared. Perhaps the Bar can raise this issue internationally to create awareness of this scandal. And at home here, the Bar would have to look at other avenues to raise our concerns. Perhaps, the next place we should walk to, is Parliament.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Reply to 'Candidate Watch' questions



Wish to state my appreciation for KL YLC's latest effort to help the Bar and improve our election system. Bravo!

Below are my replies to the questions send to me as a Candidate for the Bar Council Elections 2011/12.

Thank you.

rw


------------------------------------------------------------------


Kuala Lumpur Young Lawyers Committee
Candidate Watch Campaign

List of questions


1. In not more than 80 words, please provide a brief introduction about yourself and how you perceive yourself as a legal practitioner.

Currently a partner at Richard Wee & Yip, and our practise leans towards litigation services. Our fellow peers would best judge the kind of practitioner I am, but practising fairly and honestly, would be the principles which guides me at work




2. Which committee would you seek to chair and what are your aspirations and intentions for the said committee during your tenure? If you do not intend to chair a committee, please state your reasons for the same and tell us what do you intend to achieve during your tenure as a Council Member?

Honestly, any Committee will do, though the current inclination is towards National Young Lawyers Committee (NYLC).

Any committee tasked to me, would be reviewed and eventually changes will be made and projects with long term benefit will be implemented.

Whenever involved in committees the Bar, my usual modus operandi is to implement projects and schemes which will continue to go on and flourish even when a new Chair takes over.

On NYLC, should that Committee be tasked to me, it would be imperative to reform NYLC into a policy making Committee which would act as a representative Committee, to represent and ventilate the views of the younger members at Council. Particularly the current Court system has definitely imposed itself on the lives of lawyers, and perhaps NYLC may be the correct platform to correspond with the Judiciary over issues affecting young lawyers who are spending more and more hours waiting at Court.




3. The issue of setting a term limit for members serving the Bar Council has attracted many supporters as well as detractors. Do you think that there should be a term limit for members to be in the Bar Council? Please provide reasons for your answer.

Definitely a term ought to be fixed. But how long a term, and how long must a Council member be on ‘sabbatical’ before returning to Bar Council, needs more deliberation. However, I am inclined to support any motion to limit the term of a Council member to no more than 4 terms and perhaps a 1 year off, before allowing that member to return.

Whilst I am in support of this principle, allow me to state that I have been fortunate to work with some Council members who have been at Council for a few years already, and they are hardworking and genuinely wants to improve the Bar. Nonetheless, without casting any aspiration on these senior Council members, my personal view is that (as a general rule) a fixed term rule would be more positive to ensure fresh and alternative lawyers goes into Council too.




4. Based on feedback received, many Young Lawyers are leaving the profession because of perceived deteriorating working conditions at the Bar. What are your views about the working conditions that Young Lawyers are being subjected to and how would you seek to improve these conditions?

Back in 2005, the YLC then made a survey and found that a significant number of young lawyers left the Bar by their 3rd year in practise. The usual lament the YLC received at that time was the long working hours and an imbalance lifestyle.

The Bar (perhaps through NYLC) should review the working conditions issue again. Back in 2007/08 a Survey was done by NYLC on this issue and that survey can be revisited and reviewed.

If the younger members feel practise is overwhelming, the Bar may consider taking steps to equalise that. Perhaps dialogues with Employers may be a solution to explore.

However, I also wish to put forward a view that lawyers or anyone who just started working out there, must also learn to adapt and adopt to the system they are in. Working life is tough, period! So an alternative is; for lawyers to review their lifestyle and also be honest with ourselves and see how we work. Perhaps we are not efficient enough? Perhaps we can improve here and there?

We cant just point towards a tough working condition and hope Council solves that. Yes, Council should look out for lawyers’ wellbeing but a line has to be drawn between equalising a situation and babysitting a lawyer.




5. The Johor Bar and the Penang Bar have recently held EGMs, inter alia, to obtain feedback in relation to the Fast Track System implemented by the judiciary which places emphasis on a Key Performance Index (“KPI”). Has the quality of justice dispensed by the Courts suffered as a result of the KPI that has been put into place? What would you do to improve the situation?

Litigation used to be slow. It takes years to finish one case. But now, cases are moving so fast, sometimes, I feel like a Road Runner when I am Court. Running here and there, just to attend to matters at Court. The Judiciary’s newly acquired desire to move things fast, should be retained, but must be tampered and measured based on Justice.

We should be debating on new principles of Law in Court, not whether an adjournment can be granted as another Court wants to hear a case on the same day.

What would I do? Well, it’s too late to revert to the old system, so we must just tweak the current format to work. Solution can range from dialogues with Judiciary and (if need be) a mass protest at Court (though I hope we can avoid the latter and only do that as a final resort)




6. Do you think the Solicitor’s Remuneration Order (SRO) has achieved the objectives it was put in place for? Do you think more should be done by the Bar Council to ensure adherence to the SRO or alternatively, should the SRO be done away with all together?

The SRO was always meant to help the people, so that when they engage the services of a lawyer to purchase property, they would know how much to pay. The SRO is to ensure that lawyers compete on quality & and not price. If all our fees are the same, then we should be competing on who is better at delivering their services, instead on who is giving a better discount. I would have thought that, that would be the ideal way to practise.

But in reality discounts is rampant, and for that reason many firms who do not give discounts, do not offer conveyancing services as their primary service.

Can an enforcement rule be imposed? I would say, it is not logical to spent so much time and effort just to ensure members don’t give discount. The Bar has tried hard in recent years to ensure SRO will be complied and perhaps the Bar would have to leave it to members to sort it out and eventually do away with the SRO.

My personal message to lawyers who provide huge discounts to bring in the ‘bulk work’ is this - when a lawyer compromises on price too much, eventually quality will be compromised too. And the only one who suffers, is the client. If you (for example) wish other professionals, like Doctors, to treat us well when we are ill, then please think of the same when you do the Conveyancing matter. You too are a professional, and you should ensure all the papers are in order to protect the interest of that client. But I suppose if some lawyers can still do that AND give discounts, then we should just leave it at that.




7. What are your views on the failure of the Attorney-General to bring charges against the individuals named by the Royal Commission of Inquiry in their findings on the leaked video-clips vis a vis judicial appointments? What action do you propose the Bar Council take?

Its extremely disappointing that in the face of an obvious indiscretion (& what more confirmed by the Royal Commission themselves) the AG decided not to charge those individuals.

The Bar Council already ‘walked’ at Putrajaya when the video first appeared. Perhaps the Bar can raise this issue internationally to create awareness of this scandal. And at home here, the Bar would have to look at other avenues to raise our concerns. Perhaps, the next place we should walk to, is Parliament.



(7/11/2010 : Please see updated version above.)

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The projects at the Bar

As some of you would know by now, I have offered myself as a candidate for the Bar Council Election 2011/12. A few of my friends have asked what I have been involved in at the Bar. Below I append some of the projects that I was part of.

This is merely a list to share with you of the projects/work that I was part of. Thanks.




2005/06
1. Chairperson of Kuala Lumpur Young Lawyers Committee.
Major Projects for that term-
- Amendments of S46A(1) LPA 1976
- Inaugural Charity Nite
- Bridging gaps between YLC and Law Faculties/Colleges through workshops/seminars etc
- Promoted & conducted PDC (then known as CLE) programmes.
- Promoted Human Right.
- Initiated the Web Reporters programme for the Malaysian Bar Website.

2. Committee Member of Organising Committee of the Malaysian Law Conference 2005



2006/07
1. Chairperson of KLYLC
Major Projects for that term
- Maintenance of previous terms projects
- Cross Border meeting with the Singapore Young Lawyers Committee, at the POLA Conference 2006 at Singapore.
- Successfully persuaded the Government of Malaysia to abolish s46A(1)a LPA, thus the provision barring lawyers practising less than 7 years to be candidates for Bar elections, is abolished

2. Deputy Chairperson of NYLC
Major Projects for that term
- Revamping the NYLC as per the Selesa Workshops, resulting in the blueprint “Selesa Conclusion”.
- successfully persuaded the Government of Malaysia to abolish s46A(1)a LPA, thus the provision barring lawyers practising less than 7 years to be candidates for Bar elections, is abolished
- organised Forums/Seminars on National issues
- initiated the “Young Lawyers Personality Interview series” on the Malaysian Bar Website.
- Promoted the Web Reporters programme, nationwide
- Part of the Fund Raising team, raising funds for the Orang Asli Settlement at Johor, victims of the infamous Johor Flood in December 2006.

3. Member of the TANGKAP initiative, producing the initial REDBOOK, summarising the rights of individuals when dealing with Police, particularly in issues of arrest, search and/or remand.

4. Member of the Bar Council team in the Royal Commission of Inquest investigating issues of Police Powers for Bodily Search (investigation of the Video Recording of a lady forced to perform nude squats, in a police station)

5. Committee Member of the Organising Committee of the Malaysian Law Conference 2007.



2007/08
1. Committee Member of Kuala Lumpur Bar, Chairing the Pupils Welfare Committee (PWC).
Major Projects of PWC
- initiated a pamphlet to guide pupils on the procedures during
pupilage
- organised inaugural Legal Career Fair in January 2008


2. Member of NYLC at Bar Council

3. Committee Member of the Lawasia Law Conference 2008. Principle Committee Member for Social events, including the Opening Ceremony/Welcoming Reception at Carcosa Seri Negara/Gala Dinner.



2008/09
1. Committee Member of KL Bar, Chairing the Information Technology Committee.
Major Projects :-
- Introducing Facebook/Twittter pages for KL Bar
- Setting up of inaugural KL Bar Blog
- Series of Forums on national issues related IT Law

2. Member of Human Rights Committee, Bar Council
- Oversee the publication and distribution of the REDBOOK Pamphlet

3. Committee Member of NYLC
- raised funds for the Palestine Funds by MERCY Malaysia.

4. Member of the Anti- No Fault Liability Task Force of the Bar Council
- The Task Force successfully manage to persuade the AG against the idea of transforming the fault based tort action to a no fault liability action, in Personal Injury/Accident cases.



2009/2010
1. Honorary Secretary of Kuala Lumpur Bar

2. Committee Member of KLBC, Chairing Information Technology Committee
Major Projects
- Total revamp of KL Bar Website. Designed to generate more income via advertisements.

3. Member of Human Rights Committee, Bar Council

4. Member of NYLC, Bar Council
- part of Organising team in joint project with UNICEF on Child
rights issues

5. Appointed as Solicitor to represent the Malaysian Bar for watching brief at Inquest investigating the death of Teoh Beng Hock.



2010/2011

1. Committee Member KLBC, Chairing Information Technology Committee
Major projects
- IT Law Forum at KDU on 12th November 2010
- Reviewing the Membership and Payment System Software of KL Bar.
- Collaboration with DIGI creating a KL Bar/DIGI Community allowing members to call each other for free/ lower rates for SMS/ Free phones in some packages/ Special rates for IPhone & Blackberry etc.

2. Member of Human Rights Committee, Bar Council
- Appointed by Bar Council to lead the programme to create
awareness of S28A CPC

3. Member of NYLC