Sunday, 1 April 2007

Misuse of Bar Emblems

KUALA LUMPUR: Shocking! That was how the new Bar Council president S. Ambiga described the situation whereby non-lawyers are using Bar Council emblems on their cars either to show off or to pass off as real lawyers.

Ambiga said: “I have been informed that there are cases of people who are using our car emblem but are not members of the Bar.

“The council will check and investigate if there is an unauthorised car badge manufacturer making imitations of our badges.

“It is shocking to find out that our car badges are being used by those who are not in the profession.”

The problem of bogus lawyers or non-lawyers using the Bar Council's emblem came to light when some lawyers complained that more and more cars on the road were spotted with the emblems.

Some lawyers said there were cases of non-lawyers being let off by police with only verbal warnings after being stopped for minor traffic offences.

For example, if the non-lawyer whose car has a Bar Council emblem is caught for speeding, he can simply tell the cop he is rushing to court for a case.

The Bar Council would be carrying out investigations into the abuse of the car emblems, Ambiga said.

“We are now looking into ways of limiting the issue of badges to only our members,” she said.

The immediate step taken is for Bar Council staff to ask for the buyer's registration number and check it against the Council's records before selling the emblems, which costs RM75 each.

On Friday, The Star checked whether the new policy had been implemented and sent a reporter to the Bar Council to buy an emblem.

The receptionist asked for his membership number and when he said he was not a lawyer but was buying for his company, he was told to get an authorisation letter from his firm.

Lawyer Richard Wee said he had seen cars of friends who are not lawyers using Bar Council stickers and emblems.

“When I asked one of them why he did that, he said, 'Good-ma, can avoid saman (summons)!' Once I was in a lawyer friend's car before and when we were stopped by a policeman, the cop saw the sticker and asked what we were doing and then just said, 'Okay, okay, go, go',” said Wee.

Wee added that it was very difficult to control the situation.

“The responsibility must also lie with lawyers. Do not just simply buy and pass the stickers and emblems to friends,” he said.

Another lawyer said, “I have seen people whom I know who are not lawyers having lawyer's and police stickers on their car windscreens.

“I don’t think you can buy directly from the Bar Council. Some lawyers just simply buy and give them to their friends who are abusing using these stickers and badges.”

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