May it please your Lordship,
The Petitioner hails from Malacca. She is one of two daughters of Datuk Ng Kong Peng and Datin Amy Yeo, the Petitioner’s father and mother, who I understand are prominent figures of the Malacca Bar. Everyone here knows them and they know everyone, so please bear with the formalities with me this morning. Her sister is Dr. Allysia Ng and she covers the medical side for the family.
My Lord, I feel sure one day research will show that when two parents are lawyers, there is a 59.23% chance that one of their children will study law. Those chances increase to 83.53% if the couple has only one child, regardless of whether the other parent practices law.
In any event, it would appear that the study of the law fell to the Petitioner.
But before we get to that, I submit the Petitioner is a ridiculously accomplished, brilliant, articulate and well-rounded person. My Lord, she is one of those whom, in my youth, would find annoyingly one-dimensional because she only picked up As. Grades-wise, I don’t think she is aware of any other consonants, such as B, C, P. And when she wasn’t rated with alphabets but with phrases, she would score and get the highest phrases.
For her secondary school education at SMK Infant Jesus Convent, she scored 10A+ and was top 50 for her year out of 455,000 candidates. For her college education at Kolej Yayasan UEM (Lembah Beringin), she scored 4A* for her A Levels and 4A* for her AS Level Subjects.
When I asked the Petitioner why she decided to study law, she implied that it was a natural progression from her passion for reading, her competency in writing and her spirit for debating during her secondary school days. She was team captain of her high school debating team and led them to three consecutive state championships and was awarded best overall speaker for two consecutive years for the Ministry of Education, National Debating Championship. She was ranked top 10 in the Methodist College Kuala Lumpur Debating Championship.
My Lord, I submit the other reason for that is the Petitioner grew up at the Malacca Bar. She told me this:
I was also very much attracted to the legal fraternity. I grew up in a small town, where all the lawyers know each other. My parents brought me along to various Bar events, such as committee meetings (where the food was always great), Legal Aid booths where lawyers played Hangman to entertain my sister and I, and Bar annual dinners. I loved being a part of such a close-knit community and feeling the sense of camaraderie that lawyers have with each other, which I think isn’t really the case with other professions.
Both my parents also really love being lawyers, so I also felt that being a lawyer would be quite fun.
The Petitioner obtained her BA in Jurisprudence from Oxford University which is the Oxford equivalent of the Bachelor of Laws, LLB. Of course, it should be obvious to My Lord by now that it is not the Petitioner’s modus operandi to simply get a law degree, grades be damned, as I feel is often the case with me.
Firstly, she was on a Public Service Department scholarship by the Malaysian Government. Secondly, she scored a first-class overall with firsts in several subjects (European Union Law, Administrative Law, Constitutional Law, Roman Law, Jurisprudence, and Civil Dispute Resolution). For the last one, she won the Law Faculty Prize for best performance in that subject. Lastly, she won several prizes for her general overall performance, and performances in Constitutional Law, Criminal Law and Contract Law.
The Petitioner then did her Bar at the University of Law in London, UK whilst doing an LLM alongside. In penny, in pound sort of thing, I imagine. Of course, she scored an Outstanding grade for her Bar course and many of the Bar subjects and was awarded her LLM with Distinction for two of her subjects.
I think it is clear by now that the Petitioner is an intellectual powerhouse. Academic excellence is her norm. I don’t think she could get a B even if she tried. Yet, I am pleased to report, she is not all about the A’s, first class and academic prizes. She passed her Grade 8 piano exams, which means she has musical training. She has access to an important dimension of the arts – music, communicating without words, or rather unnamed sounds.
She is also a sportswoman. She is a regular badminton player. She says it is one of her pastimes. I am not so sure about that My Lord and harbour great suspicion about this. The reason for my suspicion is that she did not list being a finalist in any major badminton competitions or winning a few domestic tournaments in her resume. I am just shocked at this glaring omission.
However, all these abundances of accomplishments, intellect and prizes count for nothing if the Petitioner does not possess ‘good character’. That is a necessary moral element to possess to be called to the Bar that is separate and independent from our intellectual and academic achievements. In short, just because we’re clever or competent, that does not make us credible. ‘Good character’ is a crucial and necessary quality to possess in order to be called to the Bar under the Legal Profession Act 1976 and yet remains undefined.
Despite that, I am happy to report that the Petitioner possesses ‘good character’ and will give three qualities why I submit so.
Firstly, she is humble, respectful and sensitive to others despite her abundance of accomplishments and high intelligence. In fact, her manners and bearing show little trace of her awesome qualities and achievements. Unlike some who believe a lawyer’s job is to constantly flap their lips and fling ad hominem insults, the Petitioner listens before she speaks. When she does speak, she does so with purpose and chooses her words carefully. I have not heard an unkind word from her about anyone or any case.
Secondly, she is a person of integrity. The Petitioner is a devout Christian and told me that ‘God and church community are and have always been central to the way I live my life.’ She attends church regularly and joined the Christian Union at Oxford University. The Petitioner dedicated herself to academic excellence as much as she has to a life of virtue. I very much liked what she had to say when I asked her what important things did she learn during her pupilage because it exemplifies this quality:
(i) It is very, very easy to mislead the court in the effort to try to make the best case for your side. Great wisdom and integrity is needed to discern how to conduct your case in a manner which truly seeks the objective of assisting the court in pursuit of the truth.
(ii) “You will not be remembered for the number of cases you have won, but for the kind of lawyer that you are.” Related to (i), I have found it very tempting to put forward a point which I know to be kind of-almost-possibly not the most accurate way to interpret a principle of law, but which would significantly bolster my case. Getting called out on it once, and having it pointed out to me that making an argument like that damages my credibility as a lawyer was a timely lesson.
(iii) There will always be work to do, but not all of the work needs to be done now. As a lawyer, I think there is always a danger that work becomes all-consuming. I have found that taking the time and space to step back and do something other than work has helped my own mental health as well as the quality of my work ultimately.
Finally, it is simply because my very good friend K Shanmuga thinks her quite wonderful. He does not say such things lightly. I have known him for 24 years now and he still has not said such nice things about me as he does the Petitioner. I think Shan, as I call him, a role model lawyer who possesses not just a fine legal mind but fine values as well. For me, Shan is a person of integrity and a beacon of sanity. I have every faith that the Petitioner imbibed some of Shan’s good sense and integrity during her pupilage with him through some osmosis process.
This is what the Petitioner said of Shan:
Many lawyers I have met have great respect for Shan as an advocate…., I think it is so easy for a lawyer on the other side to be very unhappy with how you have run your case. So the fact that lawyers, even those who have been his opponents before, consider Shan to be a good lawyer (not just in terms of his skills, but in terms of his character) says a lot.
I, therefore, submit that the Petitioner has the requisite good character to be a fit and proper person to be called to the High Court of Malaya.
In closing, the Petitioner would like to thank the following:
God, whose faithfulness and daily grace have carried her through all the highs and lows of her life.
Her parents from whom she inherited her love for the law, and without whose love and support she would not be where she is.
Her sister, who has always supported her and celebrated her joys with her despite being in different countries. Her grandparents without their sacrifices from a generation ago, the Petitioner would not be in the privileged position that she is in today. Despite their age, they continue to support her and take pride in all their grandchildren’s achievements, big or small.
Sheryl, the Petitioner’s best friend, for being her go-to shoulder to cry on.
Huan, her partner, for putting up with her volatile emotions and being the highlight of her every day.
Hui Yee for the friendship extended to a mere pupil, without whose presence, every day in the office would be that much lonelier. And to all at Kanesalingam & Co, whose friendship and camaraderie (and many free lunches) make coming to work a joy.
Shan for his patient guidance throughout my pupillage, and for being the epitome of chill in very stressful times, which has made her pupillage so much more enjoyable.
My Lord, the Petitioner’s cause papers are in order and my learned friends will have no objections because they have not served me with a notice of objection.
I pray that the Petitioner be admitted and enrolled as an advocate and solicitor in the High Court of Malaya.
Called on 27.10.2022