May it please my Lady,
The Petitioner is the son of Mr Manokaran Nagaingam and Madam Poshpawathy Kanapthipillai. Both are present this morning.
My Lady, it is not my custom to move the calls of males I think more handsome and qualified than myself, and, what more, for free. However, I am compelled to make an exception for the Petitioner this morning because I submit he possesses excellent character and is a fit (in many senses of the word) and a proper person to be called to the Bar.
Allow me to explain why.
The Petitioner’s journey to the legal profession was not a direct one; it was oblique. His first port of call was the practice of medicine, one of the Great Asian Professions (the GAP), at the behest of his parents. He struggled with it for several years in India. The inexperienced will say he wasted his time there, but I contend he didn’t. It was time well spent.
When we spend time doing what we don’t want to do, it brings into sharp focus what we actually want to do with ourselves. John Kay, in his excellent book, Obliquity, argues that we can only learn about our objectives and how to achieve them through a gradual process of risk-taking and discovery. And that is what happened with the Petitioner.
The Petitioner told me once he decided on the path of law, there was no hesitation, only execution. In 2013, he left medicine in India on a Friday evening and signed up for law in Malaysia on a Monday morning. Why law, that other Great Asian Profession? After all, the move from medicine to law is akin to moving from the frying pan into the fire.
The Petitioner told me although it was the Hollywood movies that left him with the impression that lawyers can do good in society, it was the local news that alerted him to such lawyers in our society. “I decided to study law because I saw the role lawyers were playing in this country, particularly, human rights and criminal law.” I hasten to add, judges, play a pivotal role too.
My Lady, once the Petitioner settled on his chosen vocation, he threw himself at it. After completing his Bachelor of Laws in Aberystwyth University he took up and completed a Master of Law in Shipping Law at Cardiff University, where he was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s International Scholarship.
Whilst in Cardiff the Petitioner was a representative in the Cardiff University Student Union. More interestingly, he participated as a researcher for the Cardiff Innocence Project, an excellent initiative that reviews cases of improper convictions in the United Kingdom. It was an experience that fostered an interest in all things criminal … law related. It was that experience that guided him towards dock brief for his pupil legal aid service. After completing his Master, the Petitioner passed his Bar Professional Training Course, also in Cardiff.
Upon his return to Malaysia, he interned with Messrs Joseph & Partners for 4 months from September – December 2018 before doing his pupilage under Mr Saha Deva Arunasalam of Messrs Saha & Associates for most of 2019.
It was during the Petitioner’s pupilage that I became acquainted with him. The first time I met him was when he invited me as one of those old lawyers young lawyers have to sit with and be bored by at an event called the Taste of the Bar VIII. The second time was when he invited me to give a talk about Generalization or Specialization (of legal practice) at a Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee event.
The Petitioner is devoted to the KLBC participating in numerous committees such as the KLYLC Charity Night Sponsorship Committee, KLYLC Networking Committee, KLYLC Careers Committee; Organizing Committee – KL Legal Research Workshop, Group Leader – Friday group Dock Brief Programme.
You would think that with all those Bar committees, the Petitioner would have enough to keep him busy. But he also is a member of the Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (PEKA), the International Society of Maritime Law Malaysia, the Asian International Arbitration Centre – Young Practitioner’s Group and also completed the Competent Communicator Manual designed by Toastmasters. When I read his resume of accomplishments, the thought actually occurred to me, does this guy sleep or eat? Has he heard of this thing called rest? Where does he find time to hike, dive and read? Is he single? I know that last question is on some people’s minds here.
So there is much to be impressed with and admire about the Petitioner’s drive and good looks. But these, only tell part of his story. The more interesting part of it lies in his character. I want to now speak about 2 qualities the Petitioner possesses that tell of his good character.
The first is his sense of empathy. Empathy is the ability to not simply acknowledge another person but to see, feel and think from another person’s view, for that is how we truly understand another. But empathy in the legal profession is felt by its absence rather than its presence.
For this reason, the Petitioner’s addition to the Bar is welcome. This is what he wrote about his time in legal aid doing dock brief. “Compassion was something I discovered in myself during legal aid. I look forward to Fridays (my legal aid days) and assisting those people that were being charged in court, either mitigating or making a bail application. Particularly, where young people or first-timers were involved, I would take extra time to advise and ensure they got all the advice they needed to make a decision.”
His sense of empathy is deep and extends well beyond the human to animals and plants, especially those neglected. He intends to involve himself in marine conservation because he says it is an area much neglected despite being a nation surrounded by oceans and a trading nation with important ports.
The second is his sense of maturity. This I discerned when I asked him about his role models and his reasons for that status. He named his mother and grandmother.
His grandmother because of her resilience, raised 7 children and ensured all of them went to university, willingly sacrificing whatever she had for their benefit. “My grandmother is my role model because of her compassion and the love she showed for her family.”
His mother, who rose to and retired at the position of Timbalan Pengarah Kastam for the financial division of the Malaysian Customs, is his other role model because of “her single-mindedness” and for providing “direction in our lives – even when we had no idea where we were going.” It is from the qualities he values that I discern his maturity – working hard, sacrifice, compassion and focus; and these are qualities that he manifests.
I verily believe these two qualities will keep the Petitioner on the path of propriety in his practice, and ensure he continues to flourish.
The Petitioner has secured a position with the law firm of Messrs Joseph & Partners, which is one of the only 2 law firms that practice purely admiralty, without having a bit of debt claim and conveyancing on the side. I congratulate him and wish him all the best. The Petitioner also tells me he is currently reading Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations and has developed a taste for stoic philosophy.
That is a fitting philosophy for a lawyer because the Petitioner will have to deal with many things that lie out of his control but are expected to look like he has control over, such as his client, his client’s case, his opponent, payment of his fees, etc. I will wind up my speech with a quote from the Meditations that applies generally but with greater relevance to lawyers, “If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.”
The Petitioner would like to thank his parents, his brother, and his grandparents for their love and support. He would like to thank Mr Saha Deva, his Master and all those at Messrs Saha & Associates for making his pupilage a productive, fruitful and meaningful experience. He is grateful for the hands-on approach and the variety of legal areas he was exposed to.
I believe the Petitioner’s cause papers are in order. I believe my learned friends from the Bar and Chambers have no objection.
I pray that the Petitioner, Kuhan Manokaran, be admitted and enrolled as an advocate and solicitor in the High Court of Malaya.
Called on 21.2.2021