Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Membership Form (Version 2012)


H-2-12, Block H, Plaza Damas,

Jalan Sri Hartamas 1, 50480 Kuala Lumpur


Name: ____________________________________________

Work Address/Institution:______________________________________________________


Home Address:______________________________________________________________


Tel No.: (Hse) _________________________ (Off) __________________________

(H/P) __________________________

Email Address: ____________________________________________

Brief Description about yourself:

Qualification: _____________________________________________

Occupation: _______________________________________________

Language(s): ________________________________________________________________

Areas of interest (in law): _____________________________________________________________

Registration fee for ordinary/Associate Members: RM10

Annual fee for ordinary members: RM 12

Annual fee for associate members: RM6

(Alternatively issue a cheque in favour of “Association of Women Lawyers”

Standard Chartered Bank No. 903142302307 and email your bank-in slip to

Enclosed herewith is cash/cheque in the sum of: __________________

Signed: ___________________________ Dated: ____________________________

President's Speech at AGM on 25.4.2012.



I would boldly state that the rebirth of AWL was predominantly due to Vicky Alahakone and Foo Yet Ngo, who had initiated and insisted on having a democratic AGM process. Our 2 former Presidents, who led the organisation in the last four (4) years together with their Committee members, made my job as President much easier and smoother. So thank you Vicky and Foo.

Now I would like to take you through some of the important highlights since May 2011:

We are indeed proud of our pioneer AWL member, Ambiga Sreenevasan who helmed an energized social movement last year for the advancement of civil and political rights – Bersih 2.0, calling for clean & fair elections in Malaysia. Ambiga’s inspiring leadership brought together diverse groups in the history of Malaysia. As we all know that Bersih 3.0 is just round the corner- in fact in 3 days time, so for those of you who did not have the opportunity to be part of this civil society led movement, you now have another chance to voice your demands.

In the lead up to Bersih 2.0. Empower’s office, the Secretariat to Bersih was raided by the police. AWL endorsed on the JAG (Joint Action Group for Gender Equality) Press Statement and we had also issued our own Press Statement to denounce the attacks and attempts to discredit Empower.

Seksualiti Merdeka (SM) an annual festival since 2008, which brings together people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities to discuss issues on human rights, came under attack. The police had banned the festival, which showcased art exhibitions, music performances and theatre workshops as it allegedly threatened national security. SM filed a judicial review on the decision to ban its activities and AWL held a watching brief for the case.

AWL showed its strong presence at the protest against the Peaceful Assembly Bill and also on the 18 March this year during the women’s rally. AWL being one of the key organisers of this rally helped to raise awareness that women are the voices of change and that it is important for women voters to participate and demand for a clean government. AWL together with another women’s organisation, Women’s Aid Organisation led the civil society march from Masjid Bulat in Section 14, PJ to Padang Astaka.

This year we also witnessed a groundbreaking decision on a case where the Ministry of Education revoked a temporary teachers offer as she was found to be pregnant. It was argued by the lawyers to be a case of gender discrimination and that it violated the Federal Constitution and was in contravention of CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination). Justice Zaleha Yusoff relied on CEDAW as having the force of law in Malaysia. Honey Tan, an AWL member was one of the Co Counsels acting on behalf of the teacher, Norfadhila , had relied on CEDAW in her submissions.

As you can see that our work within AWL is not limited to issues that affect female lawyers. It has expanded to include civil and political rights and women’s rights.

The brainstorming session in August last year conducted by Angela Kukuthas helped members within AWL to regroup, reenergize and to look at projects on how best to move AWL forward.

The two (2) important projects that I wish to highlight are the radio shows on Capital FM 88.9 and the Professional Development survey.

15 February 2012 was the date of AWL’s inaugural radio show, where AWL has a weekly 1 hour slot every Wednesday. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sheena Gurbakash and Norina Yahya who helped me in the discussions with Asha Gill, the radio deejay with Capital FM, to set up this weekly radio slots. I personally know how difficult it has been trying to get lawyers to be involved and to provide some form of media training, as it was crucial to get the exact messages across within the limited time on air that was given to us. There were also challenges on the coordination of the slots but I must add that Sheena did a brilliant job with her humorous banter with Asha Gill whilst trying to be serious on the law. Norina Yahya, is the other anchor for this radio slot and I must thank her too for readily agreeing to be helm the radio show with Sheena .

The radio show and interview by Star on Sexual Harassment has certainly placed

AWL on the map. I have received feedback from Asha Gill and her producer and they are indeed delighted with our radio show as the areas covered are not often heard over the air and that it is conveyed in simple and sometimes humorous statements.

The Professional Development of Lawyers project has moved forward. We had approached 2 different survey companies on the possibility of undertaking this survey. We have received quotations from both the survey companies and most importantly the BAR has agreed to be part of this project. The Committee tasked to work on this project will meet again sometime in June this year. It may be necessary to get assistance from a researcher to help shape this project before funding is sought. We are also counting on the BAR for funding.

In terms of funding, our financial status has not improved, as we have not sought out for any funds as yet nor had any fundraising activity. Perhaps, we may need to have a fundraising event for the survey costs. At this juncture I must add that I was approached by Datuk Gurusamy, the Vice President of the National Councils of Women’s Organisation ( NCWO) as to whether AWL was interested to hold a workshop on domestic violence and sexual harassment with any of the colleges . We immediately confirmed our interest. We would receive around RM5K for this workshop. We are at present having discussions with HELP University on this.

The Executive Committee had 9 Executive meetings at the office of Messrs Foo Yet Ngo & Partners. I wish to thank Foo and Kiran for hosting us and of course feeding our tummies during our meetings. This Committee certainly loves their food.

Our very able Secretary, Goh Siu Lin has been such a tremendous support during my term as President. Thank you, Siu Lin. Am also very appreciative of Chai Har, our Treasurer who has helped us to be prudent in our spending, with whatever we had. A big thanks to my Committee members who have also helped me along the way and made it a fun journey.

On a personal note, it has certainly been quite an interesting 1-year journey for me. Having been with a very active women’s movement and still am, for the last 17 years where the pace is quite different, I may have at times pushed the boundaries and had expected quick actions and responses. I may have caused some irritations along the way. To that I sincerely apologize for my indiscretions.

Thank you.

Meera Samanther
Association of Women Lawyers

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Legal Literacy Programme at HELP University

Left to Right: Ann Chuah, Vicky Alahakone, Meera Samanther, Goh Siu Lin, Marisa Regina
Back row: Jane Pragasam, Tham Hui Ying
The Association of Women Lawyers (AWL) was selected by NCWO to conduct a legal literacy programme for the 1st year law students of HELP University. The one day affair took place last Friday (25th May, 2012) from 11am to 6pm at HELP University's auditorium.

The AWL team was mobilised and the programme outline consisted of the followig topics:

a) Sex and Gender (Meera Samanther);

b) Violence against Women (Ann Chuah);

c) Sexual Harassment (Goh Siu Lin and Jane Pragasam);

d) Domestic Violence (Vicky Alahakone and Tham Hui Ying);

e) Feminist's Perspective of Law (Meera Samanther).

For her session on "Sex and Gender", Meera organised 2 groups of students
and directed them to list down the characteristics of a male and female

The objective of this exercise is to break the stereotypes we all have in our minds about men and women. Women could also possess "male" characteristics. For example, women could be arrogant, sexist, ambitious, strong, driven whereas men also have "female" characteristics such as, be caring, gentle, nurturing etc.

Compartmentalising women and men into traditional stereotypes, socialises us to behave a certain way.
If women are perceived as weak, this may sometimes lead to acts of violence against women being committed. What we were trying to do was to break entrenched cultural norms and perceptions about women and say that women too can be powerful, articulate, strong etc.

Ann and her session on "Violence Against Women".

Promoting AWL.
Jane Pragasam and Goh Siu Lin jointly delivered a
presentation on "Sexual Harassment".

Our target was to convey the issues of Sexual Harassment ("SH") in the most easily digestible form. 

We began by a massive group massage as you can see in the photograph below. Everyone laughed and giggled, thinking it was a big joke.

We then asked, "Who enjoyed the massage?"... huge show of hands.
"Who didn't"?? - two to three hands shot up.
"If you didn't, why didn't you say so?"

This exercise was to illustrate one point. SH is SUBJECTIVE. Whether it is offensive or welcome is to be seen from the perspective of the recipient of the unwanted attention.

The Domestic Violence session was interactive.
Posted by Picasa
Vicky's idea was brilliant. She illustrated in a very powerful way, three common examples faced by DV victims.

Domestic Violence Session presented by Vicky Alahakone and Tham Hui Ying

The students were given three scenarios and accompanying scripts. They were requested to read out their respective lines.

A short post-mortem would follow the skit and the students were asked to identify what forms of DV was taking place. Eg:

a) Physical;

b) Sexual;

c) Financial;

d) Psychological.

The students were taught the typical dynamics which occur in the cycle of violence of Domestic Violence.

The 1st year law students of HELP University with lecturers and the AWL team, at the end of the programme.

It was a fun and enriching experience for the AWL team and we hope to be able to conduct similar programmes for other educational establishments to educate and empower their students of their rights.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Who’s next Nazri, docs and architects?

Extracted from Malaysia Today "Who's Next?"
G Vinod
 | May 19, 2012
Two lawyers' associations give the law academy proposal the thumbs down while another backs the minister.

PETALING JAYA: The proposal to form a law academy has drawn flak, with one lawyers’ association asking if the government will clamp down on other professional bodies as well.

Furthermore, Association of Women Lawyers president S Meera said the move would dilute and usurp the Malaysian Bar’s independence. She added that the government should learn to work with the Bar Council to probe the abuses that took place during the Bersih 3.0 rally instead of trying to control the legal fraternity. “So will the government start controlling the medical, architecture and accounting fraternities should they voice an opinion which is against the government?” she asked. The move, she added, would also prevent members of the Bar from upholding justice as enshrined in Section 42 of the Legal Profession’s Act. Meera also dismissed the claim that the Bar Council was pro-opposition, saying it was merely a media perception. “The Bar Council is a tool for dispensing justice… Nothing more,” she added.

Similarly, the Syarie Lawyers’ Association dismissed the proposal by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz as an empty threat. Its adviser Muhamad Burok said the government made similar announcements in the past and even took it to Parliament. “Look what happened? Nothing!” he told FMT. “As for Nazri, ‘dia nak gempak aje lah’ (he is just issuing empty threats).”

‘Don’t blame the Bar Council’
Several lawyers had criticised the Bar Council and the Malaysian Bar over the resolutions passed during its extraordinary general meeting last week, accusing them of being opposition tools. The resolutions condemned the police for using excessive force during the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28.

Nazri, in his criticism against the Bar, said the Bar Council should just dissolve itself for being unprofessional in its conduct.

However, Muhamad Burok said the Bar Council was set up by an act of Parliament and the Legal Professions Act 1976 defined its powers. He also said that no matter how many associations the government sets up, practising lawyers in the country must register themselves with the Bar Council as stipulated by law. “And the government wants to set up another one? Impossible!” he added.
On lawyers who were critical of the Bar Council, he said they could always choose to depose their leadership during the annual general meetings. “Just don’t blame the council for the decisions. Besides, the Bar Council president can only hold his post for a maximum of two terms, unlike some political parties that is holding power for over 50 years,” he said referring to Barisan Nasional. He also said the allegation that the Bar favoured the opposition was not new, since similar claims were made during the tenure of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Lawyers’ welfare overlooked
Meanwhile, Muslim Lawyers’ Association president Zainul Rijal supported Nazri’s suggestion to form the law academy, saying it would allow lawyers an alternative. He said even in the United Kingdom, there were four academies that regulate the legal fraternity. However, Zainul disagreed with the notion that the Bar Council had become a tool of the opposition but said the council had overlooked several matters involving lawyers’ welfare. “It’s alright to champion fundamental liberties and human rights but it should not be at the expense of member lawyers,” he said. He cited one example, saying that the insurance premium imposed on lawyers was too high and the Bar Council had failed to look into the matter despite numerous complaints.
On the resolutions on Bersih 3.0, Zainul casts doubts on the impartiality since many of the observers sent to monitor the rally were pro-Bersih since the start. “And these observers provided reports to the leadership. So how can we expect them to provide a neutral report?” he asked.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

BERSIH 3.0 Press Conference (9th May, 2012)

Extracted from The Sun:

Photos by Goh Siu Lin (Vice President AWL)

Don’t get sidetracked, Bersih NGOs remind public

Posted on 9 May 2012 - 09:36pm

Azizul Rahman Ismail

KUALA LUMPUR (May 9, 2012): Representatives of various NGOs that endorsed the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, or Bersih 3.0 rally, have reminded the public not to get sidetracked from the real motive.

A total of 14 representatives out of 84 NGOs that endorsed the Bersih rally collectively brushed aside the various issues raised and advised the public not to forget the cause for the rally on April 28.

"The rally is not about the chairing committee. It is not about violence, communists, nor was it about overthrowing the government. It is about the people demanding for free and fair elections," said Komas executive director Tan Jo Hann.

He said this at a press conference to show solidarity amongst the NGOs at the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, today.

The representatives also ask that personal accusations towards the Bersih chairing committee be stopped.

"We will stay focused and not be distracted by side issues. The Election Commission's accusation that Ambiga is a disruptor of democracy should not only be aimed at her, but at the thousands of people who attended Bersih 3.0," said the Association of Women Lawyers president Meera Samanther.

She said that everyone who was at the rally, independent of their political views, religion, or race, shared the same goal which was for free and fair election.

The eight demands made by the Bersih committee included free and equal access to the media by all parties and the cleaning up of the electoral roll.

The rally that was held also called for international observers during the election, and the resignation of Electoral Commission heads, which they alleged have lost the confidence of the people.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

PROHAM: Appeal to End Vendetta Against Datuk S. Ambiga

Posted on 08 May 2012



Proham expresses serious concerns over the move by some to demonize and vilify the Bersih co-chairman by certain quarters including burning her photo poster and calling for her Malaysian citizenship to be revoked. What is even more troubling is the extensive media coverage by certain section of mainstream media.

The Federal constitution provides for circumstances in which the citizenship can be revoked. Exercising ones citizenship right for free speech, assembly and association as guaranteed in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution provides no grounds at all for revoking ones citizenship.

Proham is of the opinion that Datuk S Ambiga is acting within her constitutional rights and in the best interest of the nation for a clean and fair elections. She is a responsible Malaysian, who as the former chairperson of the Bar Council has won Malaysian and international recognition for her dedication and for her stand for justice. We believe like most Malaysians that she has kept the nation`s best interests at the foremost. Indeed we must commend her highly for her courage, commitment and perseverance in her pursuit for truth and justice.

Proham advises that there must be more open, frank and articulate discussions including peaceful public assemblies and expressions. Inciting hatred and anger towards individuals and genuine groups is not the moderate and proper way within to promote peace stability and progress in an evolving democratic society.

Proham calls on the Police and Home Affairs to advise these negative and disruptive groups including many sections of the mainstream media, to stop vilifying fair comment that is intended to promote healthy public discussion in the best interest of the nation and our future.

Released on behalf of Proham by

Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, Prof Hamdan Adnan and Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New Exco 2012/2013

Dear members,

The Annual General Meeting of the Association of Women Lawyers was
held on 25.4.2012 at Meeting Room 2, Bar Council.

I am pleased to introduce to you your new executive committee:

President: Meera Samanther
Vice President: Goh Siu Lin
Secretary: Kathlyn Lee
Treasurer: Khoo Chai Har
Committee members: Tham Hui Ying, Dahlia Lee Wooi Mien, Nuraihan bt Jasmani
Co-opted committee members: Kiran Dhaliwal, Sharmini Pillai, Sharmini Thiruchelvam and Jeyanthi.

AWL AGM in progress.


Attendees at the AGM

Exco 2012/2013
Back row: Kathlyn Lee (Secretary), Sharmini Pillai, Dahlia Lee Wooi Mien, Kiran Dhaliwal, Nuraihan bt Jasmani, Tham Hui Ying.
Front row: Khoo Chai Har (Treasurer), Meera Samanther (President), Goh Siu Lin (Vice-President)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Secretary's Annual Report 2012

25TH APRIL, 2012, 6.30PM

The Executive Committee 2011/2012 elected at the last Annual General Meeting of 7.4.2011 continued with its work on various projects with an aim to increase awareness and boost the membership of the Association of Women Lawyers (“AWL”).

What follows are the highlights of the AWL 2011-2012 calendar.

1. 2nd June, 2011: Watching Brief – Sexual Harassment
AWL committee member, Ms Tham Hui Ying held a watching brief at the request of WAO, at the domestic enquiry conducted by the Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia at their offices in Putra World Trade Centre on 2.6.2011. This was in relation to the complaint raised by a female tour guide that she had been sexually harassed by a male tour bus driver.
A written report was prepared and submitted to WAO. The outcome was that the tour operators were not at fault and did not violate any of the guidelines of the tourism industry.

2. 1st July, 2011: Endorsing Press Statement
AWL endorsed a Joint Press Statement expressing deep concern and anger at the baseless allegations that the non-governmental organisation Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower), the Secretariat for Bersih 2.0 had links to communism

The other endorsees were: Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (comprising Women’s Aid Organisation, Sisters in Islam, All Women’s Action Society, Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group, Women’s Centre for Change and Perak Women forWomenSociety), Tenaganita and Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor

3. 1st July, 2011: Press Statement in support of Empower
AWL also issued its own Press Statement denouncing inter alia, attempts by the police and other various groups in discrediting Empower's work on political participation.

The police upon raiding Empower’s office during the Bersih 2.0 lead up, highlighted to the public, one selective poster of Shamsiah Fakeh (an activist in the early years who allegedly had links to communism). It showed the lack of understanding of all the work that women's groups have been undertaking in promoting women's participation.

4. Professional Development of Women Lawyers Project:

a) AWL and the BAR are undertaking a project to conduct a survey to determine the professional standing of women at the BAR.

b) In discussions with some of the younger female lawyers in 2011, it was brought to AWL’s attention that some young lawyers experienced sexual harassment and intimidation at the work place. Many were also unaware of the Sexual Harassment Complaints mechanism that the BAR had implemented, which was drafted by an AWL member, Simrin Gill some years ago. In view of the lack of awareness of the existence of this mechanism and that there had not been any reported cases, the Executive Committee initially decided to conduct a survey to gather empirical evidence of Sexual Harassment cases rather them just having anecdotal evidence.

c) Discussions between Meera Samanther, the President and AWL member, Sheena Gurbakash took place around July 2011 and it was decided that it would be best to conduct a survey to determine the professional development of women lawyers in KL and Selangor.

d) The aim of the survey was to help AWL and the BAR understand the working conditions, the professional challenges and personal challenges women lawyers face vis a vis male lawyers. Women lawyers make up nearly 48% of the BAR and for those reasons alone women lawyers have a stake in it. It is a well known fact that the level playing field is not equal between male and female lawyers and as such the BAR must look into the professional development of women lawyers and how best to help level off the playing field.

e) This is a pioneer study that will have ground-breaking implications not just for the Malaysian Bar but for professional organisations in Malaysia as a whole, and as such the involvement of the Bar Council in the undertaking of this survey is essential and for the Bar Council to be aware and informed of the working conditions and issues facing lawyers and be aware of gender issues within the Bar.

f) Around September 2011, the survey company, Merdeka Survey was approached. Their proposal indicated the costs to be around RM50,000.00. In late November 2011 Sheena Gurbakash, Goh Siu Lin (Secretary) and Meera Samanther held a meeting with the President, Vice President and Treasurer of the BAR who were keen to collaborate with AWL and work on this together and who also gave a commitment on this project .

g) Around February 2012 another survey company, Metrix was also approached and after several meetings, Metrix had also given a brief on their survey which would cost around RM30,900.00 for Quantitaive survey via telephone interviews whilst a Quantitative survey via face to face interviews would be around RM 50,900.00. The Committee has yet to discuss in detail on the best option before approaching the BAR and sourcing for funding on this project.

5. 13th August, 2011: Brainstorming Session

AWL held a brainstorming session facilitated by Ms Angela Kukuthas to reassess the direction of the society and to discuss and formulate ideas / projects for the future. Angela took us through the process of making us reflect on how we would like AWL to be remembered in the next 3 - 5 years. As a result of the session, various Committees were formed to spearhead specific areas:

a) Research - looking at Baseline survey on the professional development of women lawyers (ongoing project)
b) Membership Drive
c) Communication & Media - looking at Facebook, website etc.
d) Fundraising for AWL – projects.
e) Networking
f) Professional & Personal Development
g) Constitution

6. 20.7.2011: Advocating for Sexuality Rights Human Rights ( SRHR)

Our secretary, Ms Goh Siu Lin attended as AWL’s representative, the local panel presentation "Advocating for SRHR: The Malaysian Experience", organised by the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR). CSBR comprises of organisations working on sexuality rights within the Muslim based societies. CSBR had an international workshop for a week and our President was a participant.
A local panel was held on Wednesday, 20th July, 2011 from 4-6pm at the Cyberview Lodge, Persiaran Multimedia, Cyberjaya.

The event was chaired by Meera Samanther, President of AWL. The following panelists spoke on their respective topics as listed below:

1) Julian Lee, "Moral Policing in Malaysia"
2) Rashidah Abdullah, "Abortion Rights and Challenges"
3) Pang Khee Teik, "Seksualiti Merdeka: Reaching Out Without Over-reaching"
4) Abigail de Vries, "Project Sentuh: Connecting The Dots Between Violence Against Women& Sexual Rights Through Art and Activism"

7. 11.9.2011: SHout Campaign

11 NGOs kick started a campaign to lobby for Sexual Harassment legislation in the workplace and in public spaces. The campaign had been named SHout (Sexual Harassment Out) was a follow up on from a campaign started 10 years ago by the Joint Action Women's Group (JAG) when JAG had then submitted a draft of the Sexual Harassment Bill to the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry. Prema and Meera Samanther are representatives of AWL on the legal committee.

8. BERSIH 2.0

Goh Siu Lin and Meera Samanther attended the BERSIH 2.0 meetings at the KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall as AWL’s representatives. Meera Samanthar is on the BERSIH Publicity Committee representing AWL.

9. 23rd November, 2011: Press Release (Peaceful Assembly Bill)

AWL issued a press release to oppose the passing of the Peaceful Asembly Bill which was a direct violation of Article 10(1)(b) of our Federal Constitution, which provides for a basic right of freedom of assembly .
10. 29th November 2011: Bar Council Demonstration (Peaceful Assembly Bill)

Strong AWL presence at the Lake Gardens to protest against the Peaceful Assembly Bill.

11. 6-8 December, 2011: Taylors’ College Law Awareness Week

On 6th December, 2011, the Secretary of AWL, Ms Goh Siu Lin, gave a presentation to the students of Taylor's University on "Women's Rights" in her capacity as Secretary of AWL. Mr. Christopher Leong (Vice-President of the Bar Council) officiated the Opening Ceremony of the Law Awareness Week and spoke on "The Right to a Fair Trial". The other speaker was Emeritus Prof. Datuk Dr. Shad Saleem Faruqi (Senior Professor of Law & Legal Advisor, University Teknologi MARA) who spoke on "The Right to Counsel”

Our AWL volunteers on duty the next day on 7.12.2011 for our recruitment exercise at Taylors' College, Lakeside campus were successful in obtaining 12 new members.

12. 9th December, 2011: Cocktails at the German Embassy.

AWL Exco members , Meera Samanther , Foo Yet Ngo , Goh Siu Lin and Kiran Dhaliwal attended a cocktail evening, a networking event , which was hosted by the German Embassy and attended by other European Union embassies and NGOs.

13. 15th December, 2011: AWL X’mas Networking Event

The AWL Networking Committee organized a fun-filled event in December 2011 at Chef n Brew, Damansara Heights with good food, warm camaraderie and a Secret Santa Gift Exchange.

14. 18th January, 2012: KLBC Forum “Women in Law”
Our President, Meera Samanther was one of the panelists who shared her insights with fellow practitioners.

Summary of the event as extracted from the KLBar Report “The forum was attended by 36 participants. The forum covered various areas from the challenges a woman lawyer faces in the legal fraternity to excelling within the ambits of the profession. Real time experiences and knowledge were shared by the speakers who themselves have dealt with various challenges and succeeded in the profession.”

Another panelist who shared her experience was Preeta Pillai, who had since the Forum, become a member of AWL.

15. 15th February, 2012: AWL’s inaugural radio slot - Capital FM88.9

AWL's inaugral radio slot every Wednesday, 11am - 12noon hosted by well-known celebrity, Ms Asha Gill, went amazingly well and made a strong impact on its listeners. Our AWL President, Ms Meera Samanther, displayed good chemistry whilst bantering with AWL anchor Ms Sheena Gurbakhash.
They opened the show with an introduction of AWL and what its missions were. Their aim was to demystify the law so as to be able reach to as many listeners as possible. They discussed what law is and also explained the concept of equality in law by differentiating the concept of formal equality from substantive equality using the framework of CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women).

They ended with explaining the importance of every individual needing to know the value of law as it affects every one of us in our daily lives and that the public can also get involved in shaping the law.

The topics that have been discussed so far include:

1. Introduction to Contract (Sheena Gurbakhash)
2. Sexual Harrassment (Meera Samanther and Ms Betty Yeoh of All Women Action Society),
3. Introduction to Tort (Sheena Gurbakhash)
4. Children and Accidents (Sheena Gurbakhash)
5. Adoption (Sharmini Thiruchelvam)
6. Managing Debts (Norina Yahya)
7. Tax (Norina Yahya and Sheena Gurbakhash)

A press report appeared in the Star on 22 February 2012 regarding “Sexual Harassment” on Capital FM, where our President, Meera Samanther was interviewed for her views on the topic.

16. 12th February, 2012: Workshop on Watching Brief Submissions

This workshop was organized jointly by AWL, WAO, AWAM, SIS.
Our President, Meera Samanther had initiated the workshop and Zarizana Abdul Aziz, an activist and practicing lawyer conducted a 101 on amicus curaies and watching briefs. Sisters In Islam (SIS) provided the venue whilst AWAM sponsored the refreshments and food. Jessica Gonzales was the case study used to illustrate the power of watching briefs/amicus and how NGO’S and lawyers can play an active role together.

17. 17th February, 2012: Watching Brief (Ban of Sexuality Merdeka Activities)

AWL sent two of its members, Meera Samanther and Sharmini Thiruchelvam to hold a watching brief on the Judicial Review on the decision to ban Sexuality Merdeka (“SM”) activities. The lawyer for SM was Honey Tan, an AWL member.

18. 18.3.2012: Women Groups Rally “Wanita Suara Perubahan”

To celebrate International Women's Day, a coalition of 15 women NGO groups led a civil society initiative called "Wanita Suara Perubahan" (Women the Voice of Change). AWL was one of the key organisers of this event. Our President, Meera Samanther, led the march of 2000 women from Section 14 towards Padang Astaka, where the event was held.

The rally was to raise awareness on women's concerns amongst members of the public, calling specifically upon women voters to participate in the 13th General Elections for a clean government and for Members of Parliament to take heed of our 6 core demands which are:-

1. A government free of corruption.

2. A decent living wage.

3. A better quality of life.

4. An end to violence against women and all genders.

5. Repeal the Peaceful Assembly Act 2011.

6. Free and fair elections.

Around 4000 women from all corners of Malaysia came together to show their support for change for a better Malaysia.

19. AWL Facebook page

This has been set up by Ms Tham Hui Ying. It is presently under construction.

Dated 19th April, 2012.

Prepared by, GOH SIU LIN
Hon Secretary 2011/2012

Edited and approved by,
President 2011/2012

Sunday, April 15, 2012




The Annual General Meeting of the Association of Women Lawyers (Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan) will be held on the following date, time and place.

Date: 25th April, 2012 (Wednesday)

Time: 6.30 p.m.
Place: Bar Council Building
Meeting Room 2, 3rd Floor
Kuala Lumpur

Dated 10th April, 2012
Goh Siu Lin
Hon Secretary 2011/12

Monday, March 19, 2012

"Wanita Suara Perubahan" Rally - 18.3.2012

To celebrate International Women's Day, a coalition of 15 women NGO groups led a civil society initiative called "Wanita Suara Perubahan" (Women the Voice of Change). AWL was one of the key organisers of this event.

The rally was to raise awareness on women's concerns amongst members of the public, calling specifically upon women voters to participate in the 13th General Elections for a clean government and for Members of Parliament to take heed of our 6 core demands which are:-

1. A government free of corruption.

2. A decent living wage.

3. A better quality of life.

4. An end to violence against women and all genders.

5. Repeal the Peaceful Assembly Act 2011.

6. Free and fair elections.

Thousands of women from all corners of Malaysia came together to show their support for change for a better Malaysia.

The AWL team out in full force. Decked in purple and donning white gloves.

From left to right: Meera Samanther, Sharon Tee, Tham Hui Ying, Kiran Dhaliwal, Vicky Alahakone, Goh Siu Lin.

The indigeneous women's group.

Peaceful and orderly march.

The drummers lent a festive feel, accompanying our chants of "Hidup! Hidup! Hidup Wanita!" "Bangkit! Bangkit! Bangkit Wanita!" "Tolak! Tolak! Tolak Rasuah!"

Women of all ages, social groups (including the "peladang wanita"), sexual preferences and race came from all corners of Malaysia - Tawau, Trengganu, Kelantan, Melaka, Selangor, Penang even Singapore!

Meera Samanther and the iconic Irene Fernandez.

The leader of the Indigenous women's group who gave a very moving and powerful speech on the special difficulties that their community faced.

The media.

Enjoying the AWL camaraderie.

The 6 core demands.

Teaching us the vigourous Jaiho bollywood moves. Meera can be seen on the left side of the stage.

Posted by Picasa
AWL members end the day with a group photo with Irene Fernandez and Dato Ambiga Sreenivasan.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Tackle Sexual Harrassment"

Extracted from the Star: Friday February 24, 2012


PETALING JAYA: Sexual harassment in the workplace is still a very real nightmare for the victims as there is inadequate legislation to protect them, said activist Meera Samanther.
Meera, who is Association of Women Lawyers' president, said the current provisions for sexual harassment under the Employment Act was not comprehensive enough to provide proper help to victims.

“We need to pass the Sexual Harassment Bill so that it will be compulsory for employers to formulate proper sexual harassment policies, establish a committee for it and provide quick redress to victims,” she said here yesterday, adding that strong backing from employers would empower women to speak out without fear.

Meera, who will discuss the issue with Capital FM deejay Asha Gill next Wednesday, pointed out that women groups had been lobbying for the Bill to be passed since it was drafted in 2001.
She emphasised the need for such a Bill, which would recognise the right of “every human being to a working environment free of harassment”.

“Sexual harassment is a violation of human dignity and our fundamental liberty to equal opportunities at work,” she stressed, pointing out that men had also become victims.
She urged the public to tune in to the programme as sexual harassment affected both the victims and employers.

“We want to reach out to listeners many of whom may be silent sufferers, who need to know what to do and where to go for help.

“We want the perpetrators to understand how their actions affect victims and employers to understand how work productivity is affected,” she said.

Meera also lauded Capital FM 88.9, Malaysia's first radio station catering to women, for bringing up the idea of speaking about sexual harassment.

Asha, a passionate advocate of women's rights, said it was vital for women to know their rights and stand up for themselves.

“Women should be able to feel confident and reprimand their harasser by saying I feel that is not appropriate', and take the necessary steps to stop it,” she said.

Meera will be speaking along with All Women's Action Society (Awam) programme manager Betty Yeoh<> on Asha's Eat, Pray, Love show from 11am to noon next Wednesday.

Wanita Suara Perubahan


1. Who are we?

A coalition of 15 NGO's pushing for a clean government and women's rights

2. What we're pushing for?

We have 6 different demands touching on clean and fair elections which have an impact on women's rights. We'll be talking about each demand throughout the next week. Here's the first:

*A government free of corruption*.
Accountability and transparency is institutionalized in all key institutions (MACC, Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission).

They must come under the Parliament and not the Prime Minister's Office.

A Right to Information Act must be enacted.

Make all governments income and expenditure transparent.

All ministers and senior officials at the federal state must declare their assets.

*A clean government is an accountable government*
Adhering to the basic principles of good governance.

This call for a clean government comes at a time when our national budget goes into increased deficit and when it has been projected that in less than 10 years the country will become bankrupt.

The corruption and stacking away of people’s money by people in power is seen as a “right”.

Women will, therefore, suffer most as they need to ensure food is on the table; that children’s health is taken care of and that there is money to send their children for a proper education.

*A Better Quality of Life*
Millions of ringgit have been lost that should have been spent on adequate housing, health, transportation, education, establishing decent living wages, and ensuring environmental protection.

Instead, basic services are being privatised (e.g. health) and subsidies are being cut. Worker's right are being eroded, labour is being casualised and the rakyat are being told to cope and live within their means.

Many families, including single parents, struggle to pay the rent, feed their children or access decent healthcare. Many women work long hours or hold two jobs to make ends meet.

Do you worry for the future of your loved ones? If you do, come and join us on Sunday, 18th March 2012 as we march for a better tomorrow .

For more info you can find Wanita Suara Perubahan on:


Twitter:!/wanitasuperMY&usg=AFQjCNHVKBYENCjlFoTuqh1mUgWKDG28Aw > PicBadge:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

18 January 2012 KLBC PDC Forum on Women in Law

Reproduced from the KLBC Activities Report for January 2012

"Meera Samanther from Messrs Kang & Kang, Preetha Pillai from Messrs Skrine & Co and Nahzatul Ain bte Mohd Khalid from Messrs Khalid, Iqbal & Associates presented the Forum held at the KL Bar Auditorium at 7.30pm. The forum was attended by 36 participants. The forum covered various areas from the challenges a woman lawyer faces in the legal fraternity to excelling within the ambits of the profession. Real time experiences and knowledge were shared by the speakers who themselves have dealt with various challenges and succeeded in the profession."

Capital FM 88.9 - AWL's inaugral radio appearance

AWL's inaugral radio slot on Wednesday, (15th of February, 2012) 11am - 12noon hosted by well-known celebrity, Ms Asha Gill, went amazingly well and made a strong impact on its listeners. Our AWL President, Ms Meera Samanther, displayed good chemistry whilst bantering with AWL anchor Ms Sheena Gurbakhash.

They opened the show with an introduction of AWL and what its missions were. Their aim was to demystify the law so as to be able reach to as many listeners as possible .They discussed what law is and also explained the concept of equality in law by differentiating the concept of formal equality from substantive equality using the framework of CEDAW ( Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women) .

They ended with explaining the importance of every individual needing to know the value of law as it affects every one of us in our daily lives and that the public can also get involved in shaping the law. Next week the discussion will be on contract law and the famous Carbolic Smoke Ball case.

The following week, at the request of the producers of the show, a discussion on Sexual Harassment and the impact on women will be aired and discussed by our very own President , Meera Samanther and Betty Yeoh of AWAM (All Womens Action Society).

AWL will be having regular slots with Asha Gill every Wednesday between 11 - 12 midday .

From left to right: Asha Gill, Meera Samanther, Sheena GurbakhashPosted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Resignation from Exco - Ms Cherrien Chan

This to give notice of Ms Cherrien Chan's Notice of Resignation as a committee member which took effect from 18th January, 2012.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Learning about legal rights (extracted from the Star)

Learning about legal rights

Learning about legal rights
IN a bid to raise awareness on people’s rights under the law, Taylor’s Law School organised the Law Awareness Week in collaboration with the Malaysian Bar last month.

The event, themed “Taking Rights Serious-ly”, was aimed at helping people with no legal background to know their rights and understand the laws that affect them.

The event was also aimed at encouraging the public to come forward and air their concerns on legal matters that they were facing, especially those living in the surrounding communities who did not have the funds to engage lawyers.

The event kicked off with a public forum featuring Malaysian Bar vice-president Christopher Leong, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) senior professor of law and legal adviser Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi and Association of Women Lawyers secretary Goh Siu Lin.

Leong officiated at the ceremony.

Distinguished speakers: (From left): Taylor’s University law lecturer Justina Chen, Leong, Goh and Dr Shad Saleem.

Dr Shad Saleem spoke on “The Right to Counsel in Malaysia” while Leong spoke on “The Right to a Fair Trial”. Goh’s speech on “Women’s Rights” received wide applause from the students.

Also present were Taylor’s University (Taylor’s) vice-chancellor and president Prof Datuk Dr Hassan Said, Taylor’s Law School dean Harmahinder Singh as well as lecturers and students of the school.

“The students are able to put into practice what they have learnt in the classroom and at the same time learn about responsibility through community service and outreach,” said Prof Hassan.

The event also raised awareness on the institution’s Legal Aid Centre, which provides pro-bono legal advice to the public.

Besides providing free legal advice to clients, it also contributes to students’ clinical legal education.

The Legal Aid Centre, which has been operating since March, is open to the public every Wednesday and Friday, and students take turns to be on duty with a lecturer to guide them on the cases that come in.

The centre has handled over 20 cases so far, mostly related to tenancy and landlord agreements, family law, employment matters and many more.

Law student Lena Chua said, “Even though I have not had a chance to handle a case, I am confident that this is where I belong. This is what I want to do. Studying law helps me to know my rights and also helps me to educate the public on their rights”.

Student Jack Lee said the experience gained was invaluable. “Having to deal with cases at the centre will help us improve our communication skills and handle clients in the future,” he said.

An international student from Sudan, Habiba Mukhtar Abubaker said the event enabled her to meet people from the legal fraternity.

“I got to hear their thoughts on issues concerning human rights which has provided me an insight to the issues involving indigenous people,” she said.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Resignation of Chong Yuh Tyng as Committee Member

This is to give notice of Ms Chong Yuh Tyng's Notice of Resignation as a committee member which took effect from 3rd August, 2011.