• Sunday, October 22, 2017

Overview of The Annual General Meeting
by perakbar

Date: 20 February 2009

Venue: High Court No.1

Quorum: 5% of all members

Attendees: 137

 

This being my first time attending the Annual General Meeting (AGM) it was interesting to see how the meeting was conducted and what it entailed. The AGM as a whole was well-structured; this was to enable discussions about various issues to be aired in an orderly manner.

 

Firstly, the Perak Bar Chairman mentions quorum in order to ascertain that there are enough members to proceed with the AGM. This was certainly not a problem on this day as there were sufficient numbers. Then, we had to observe a minute of silence as a gesture to honour those Perak Bar members that had passed away. I personally feel that this is indeed a tradition worth keeping; it instills a sense of respect and gratitude in the hearts of the remaining. After that, we moved on with the agenda, the various reports by the Chairman and committee members and also accounts. This is to ensure that any ambiguities are clarified and mistakes rectified. I observed that quite a number of questions were posed to the Chairman, which was ably handled by him. It was enlightening to see that members of the Bar were passionate about many issues. Furthermore, it clearly highlights that we, the Perak Bar, are certainly not lacking in the department of inquisitive and analytical minds. An example of pertinent issues that were discussed:

 

Discrepancy between 2007 and 2008 accounts for Perak-Penang Bar games;

Whether the building – lower court room – remained a liability and the question of whether it is a fixed asset;

Depreciation;

Legal aid disbursements; and

Library allocation.

 

At one point there was also a slightly heated debate as to unpaid annual dinner bills by certain members of the Perak Bar. One of the proposals was to compile a defaulters list, which would be printed in the next annual report. It is interesting to note that many members of the Bar supported this idea. If I am not mistaken, this proposal has been adopted and should thus be implemented. I suppose the name of the game is shame. Another intriguing proposal was this: to simply deny entry to those who turned up on the night itself unless payment was made there and then. However, there lies the question of whether those manning the registration table would have the heart to turn ‘gatecrashers’ away. After all the latter are fellow colleagues, who presumably are dressed to the nines on that special occasion. Would anyone have it in them to say no?

 

There were also open nominations for the position of Chairman and election of committee members. For those of you who might not know already, I am proud to announce that Mr Shan Theivanthiran remains as Chairman of the Perak Bar Committee for the year 2009/2010. Also, many committee members from the previous year have remained for this new year. In addition, there is a new committee member, namely Mr Stephen Su. I would like to congratulate those who have been appointed and wish them all the best in their endeavours.

 

Lastly, Mr Ngan raised the matter about the current Professional Standards and Ethics Course, which includes an Ethics lecture programme and a written examination at the end. Pupils must complete the course in full and pass the written examination. One of the issues that he voiced out was whether a paper-based examination is a sufficient tool in determining whether one is or is not ethical? He stressed upon the need for ethics to be learnt through experience. Therefore, it should be an ongoing process.

 

At this juncture may I be permitted to give my two cents’ worth? I am a pupil. Thus, I will have to sit for this examination as part of the requirements to be called to the bar. I have not sat for the examination. I will very soon. The little that I know about the examination is through word of mouth: other pupils’ experience. Apparently the examination is in an open book format, which means that we are permitted the use of the Ethics course materials. I have read the Ethics course materials and most of it seems readily understandable. Therefore, is it a simple case of regurgitation of information in the examination? Are there analytical skills involved? I will have to see. However, this I do know – it is of vital importance that lawyers are ethical in their line of work. We have a duty to uphold justice and as such should adhere to ethical standards. Therefore, there must be a starting point for lawyers to learn to be ethical in their profession. This bedrock or foundation is the Professional Standards and Ethics Course. Of course I can imagine that no one likes sitting for an examination. The nervousness and anxiety one goes through can wreak havoc to our minds. Often one of the complaints about this course is that it is too exam-oriented.

 

However, I still believe that we do need some sort of springboard upon which we can launch our young legal minds to embrace ethical issues. The course and examination will simply be a catalyst in this respect. At least pupils will be made aware early on of the role of ethics in the legal profession. We have to bear in mind that adhering to ethical standards will require time and determination. This is not a one-off lesson but a continuing and evolving process. The course is not the be all and end all of ethics. So is it time to abolish the current Professional Standards and Ethics Course? Not at this stage I think. However, much can be done to revamp this course e.g. improving and enhancing course content, focusing on real understanding rather than just a desire to pass an examination and possibly providing e-tutorials and mock assessments as additional support. This will be food for thought.

 

Submitted by Julia Tang

 

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Posted at:
February 23rd 2009

12:52

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