Dear Members of the Kuala Lumpur Bar,
As the newly elected Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee (“KLBC”) commences its journey to serve members in 2021/22, we wish to affirm our commitment to upholding members’ welfare and interests, especially those who are most vulnerable or at risk of abuse, harassment or exploitation.
This commitment is evident in the decision to ensure that the Gender Equality & Diversity Committee (“GEDC”) continues its work in promoting diversity, inclusivity at the Bar and a harassment-free workplace culture. In the 4 years since its inception, the GEDC has organised many talks and seminars/webinars in order to raise awareness and sensitise Kuala Lumpur Bar members to barriers and biases resulting in discrimination and harassment faced by certain members of the profession. The GEDC has particularly found great success in its monthly collaborations with the Pupils Committee where pupils-in-chambers are required to complete a 1-hour session with selected speakers on specific themes such as unconscious bias, the impact of discrimination on our mental health and sexual harassment. For more information on the GEDC’s activities in the previous year, click here.
The Committee is very concerned about recent incidents and complaints of sexual harassment that have been expressed by members through both the press and social media. It is cognisant of the challenges that members have faced in reporting incidents of sexual harassment and bullying they have been subjected to by other members of the legal profession. We are particularly aware that these incidents frequently go unreported because of fears of reprisals and the lack of support infrastructure for complainants. The KLBC is not empowered to hold inquiries into allegations of misconduct by an advocate and solicitor – this power is vested solely in the Disciplinary Board. However, the KLBC has taken an active supportive role and hopes to further expand its role.
In view of the above, we are committed to ensuring that any member facing harassment or bullying must always be able to reach out to the Committee when in need of support and we will do our best to this endeavour. Members are assured any information they provide to the Committee will be treated in the strictest confidence and with respect.
We are further heartened by the new Malaysian Bar President’s clear and unequivocal statement of commitment to look into and strengthen the sexual harassment complaints mechanism. We are committed to working closely with all other stakeholders to enable members to come forward with their complaints of harassment with a view to having these grievances inquired into and addressed appropriately.
Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee
KLBC Gender Equality and Diversity Committee