May it please your Lordship,
The Petitioner, Amanda Alexandria Funk, hails from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah and is the eldest child of three of Mr Andre Alexander Funk and Madam Patricia Matanjun. They are regrettably not here today because they could not travel down from Sabah given the present conditions. The Petitioner’s cousin, Jessica, is here in their stead. The Petitioner is aware she had to skip an important presentation this morning to be here on behalf of the Petitioner’s parents.
My Lord, the first thing that struck me about the Petitioner, was her surname – Funk. I was acquainted with that surname many years ago when I acted for a gentleman named David Paul Funk when we took on an insurance company for unlawful deductions to his retirement gratuity. I recall thinking how cool a surname that was – Funk – because I enjoy funk music. So when I read her name, I immediately asked her whether she was related to him. She replied, If you happen to meet any other Funk in the country, he/she is most likely related to me. I shall avoid the obvious potential cliche and to this say, How cool.
The Petitioner completed her STPM at SM La Salle, Kota Kinabalu with such good grades that she is a recipient of the Sabah State Government Scholarship for her Bachelor of Laws, which she completed in 2019 at the University of Malaya.
The Petitioner was not only busy with her studies; during her time at UM, she held positions in the Lawnite, UM Committee, UM Moot Club, Asian Law Students’ Association UM and the Tun Suffian Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition Organising Committee; usually as Head of Publications or Head of Publicity/Media.
In 2018, she did an internship with Teo & Associates in Kota Kinabalu where she was acquainted with the dark legal arts of conveyancing and dealing with land matters; something all good litigators should know little about. After obtaining her Bachelor of Laws, she commenced her pupilage at Messrs Wong Lu Peen & Tunku Alina, under the supervision of Andrew Teh Leng Guan, a lawyer whom I have a lot of respect.
Since she was under his care and tutelage, I know he would have imparted her with the noblest values, outlook and experiences that would shape and resonate with the Petitioner. She says I was lucky enough to have a great pupil master who trusted me with various tasks and exposed me to many different cases as he can. She was. I know Andrew Teh to be a sharp, articulate and classy lawyer who is down-to-earth.
My Lord, I submit three reasons why I say the Petitioner has the requisite good character to be a fit and proper person to be called to the Bar.
Firstly, the Petitioner joined the legal profession for the right reason – to be a positive role and force in people’s lives. Not long ago, the Petitioner was a volunteer with the Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (SAWO) working mainly with children and teenagers.
When she was there, there was the case of Riduan Masmud. He raped an underage girl. He bribed her father to withdraw the police report and then married her in a bid to avoid prosecution. The Petitioner saw how effective the campaign of SAWO, other NGOs and supporting lawyers pushed for Riduan to be prosecuted. He was eventually convicted and his appeals were dismissed.
This was her insight from that campaign, SAWO and the other NGOS helped in achieving that outcome in many ways, but at the end of the day, I noticed a limitation in what laypersons could do when there involved a legal issue or dispute. It was then that it occurred to me what a big role lawyers played in people’s lives, and I wanted to be like these lawyers too. I was almost done with STPM at the time, so after the results were out, I made the decision to apply to UM Law.
Secondly, she has a mature assessment of the legal profession, her expectations and her role in it. When she speaks about the practice of law she says, I still have the utmost respect for the profession, but I realised that it is still a flawed one. I hope my generation would be pushing for greater integrity within the legal sphere as we step into practice.
She too has great insight when she tells me of the three most important things about pupilage. The first she says is To respect the clerks and administrative staff in your firm. Absolutely true. Never think lowly of clerks and administrative staff; they can either be the lubricant or the sandpaper to whatever it is you need to get done.
Secondly, she says, The friends you make in law school are important, even more so when you step into working life. I cannot disagree with this. Friends are not just good for guidance, someone you can borrow stuff from and ask for favours. The right ones make excellent clients too.
Her third lesson shows great insight into the heart of pupil work, Never underestimate how important it is to learn how to use the photocopy and binding machines. It’s a skill that you really need when you’re rushing to prepare bundles or documents to be sent out. My Lord, I used to be a master of the firm photocopier. But in my advanced years in practice, I have found that ability is reserved for the young, diligent and skillful and I am no longer all these things.
Thirdly, she has the right role models. The Petitioner claims her entire female lineage as her role models. When asked she cites, My mother, my grandmother, and all my aunties and older female cousins. … I realised that sometimes, it is a privilege to be able to pursue what you want in life, and it was a privilege I got because the women in my family made sure life was different for me.
The Petitioner knows struggle and sacrifice. Because of that, she is driven and ambitious yet retains her reasonableness and thoughtfulness. Those are potent and admirable configurations of qualities.
She cites Dr Azmi Sharom, the current Deputy Chairman of the Elections Commission, who was an Associate Professor at UM when she was a student there, as a person she admires. I know Dr Azmi. He is an excellent man of integrity who also possess a bodybuilder’s physique. Although I can attest to the former, I am annoyed that I have to remind him to put on more than a t-shirt two sizes smaller than it should be whenever I meet him.
Having interviewed the Petitioner both on paper and in person, I find her to be soft-spoken but articulate, intelligent, reflective and fair in her assessment of things. I think the Petitioner would make a fine and worthy addition to the Bar.
In closing, the Petitioner would like to thank her parents for their love, support and inspiration; her master, Andrew Teh Leng Guan; all the lawyers and staff at Messrs Wong Lu Peen & Tunku Alina; her cousin, Jessica; all the educators in her life – her UM law lecturers, her teachers at St Francis Convent Secondary School KK and La Salle Secondary School KK; her childhood friends from Kota Kinabalu that has walked in lockstep with her through all these years; and Ananthan, Aishah, Yu Qian, Joseph, John, Syu and every friend she had the pleasure of knowing in UM.
I submit that the Petitioner’s cause papers are in order, and my learned friends have no objections to the Petition.
I pray that the Petitioner be admitted and enrolled as an advocate and solicitor in the High Court of Malaya.