May it please your Lordship
Fahri Azzat for the Petitioner, Amos Tan Yu Tsen.
The Petitioner is the younger son of Michael Tan Khen Choan and Madam Joyce Lim Gaik Tian and hails from Damansara Jaya, Petaling Jaya. He has an older brother, Able Tan Chun Tsen.
My Lord, I suspect that many practicing lawyers – especially those that did not have childhood dreams of being a lawyer – harboured ambitions for a different kind of education. That is true of me and my friends at the Bar. And myself. I wanted to study maths and English literature but was turned to the more realistic option of law.
And that is true of the Petitioner too. He wanted to study Medicine. But that proved too expensive, so he took up History instead and obtained a scholarship overseas. But that was history when 1MDB made history by plunging the value of our currency and the country’s reputation which impacted the Petitioner’s scholarship.
The Petitioner resolved to forget about a degree and get straight to work. Fortunately, his Uncle Gabriel persuaded the Petitioner to give law school a shot. It helped that the local law degree was affordable. “Even though admissions into University of London was closed already by that time, like one untimely born, I somehow got myself enrolled into the University of London LLB Programme. BAC [Brickfields Asia College] took me in soon after.”
My Lord, I submit the Petitioner has the requisite ‘good character’ to be a fit and proper person to be called to the Bar. The phrase ‘good character’ in section 11(1)(b) of the LPA76 is not defined in the Act itself. Good character is a separate requirement in addition to not being convicted, not adjudicated bankrupt, and not guilty of any misconduct. Not all commonwealth jurisdictions articulate the qualities of good character. A quick survey of the likes of Northern Ireland, Canada, and Scotland that have articulated ‘good character’ describe such a person as having honesty, integrity, candour and fairness.
If good character is so defined, I am pleased to submit the Petitioner possesses the qualities required of him.
Firstly, I can personally attest to the Petitioner’s honesty and candour. I have had the pleasure of knowing the Petitioner during his pupillage. We came to know each other after he came for advice and a chat on a couple of occasions. The Petitioner is someone who speaks his mind, is open about himself and wears his heart on his sleeve.
The Petitioner holds honesty and candour in high esteem. He also believes that not enough of us at the Bar are doing our part in being honest and forthcoming. I asked him, What improvements would you like to see about legal practice? He responded, Perhaps baby steps can be taken by practitioners to start by telling the truth, the WHOLE truth and nothing but the truth.
This is something I do not disagree with, My Lord. In fact, I think he is on to something. Rule 18 of the Legal Profession (Practice and Etiquette) Rules 1978 states that advocates and solicitors dealings with each other and the court should be ‘characterised by candour, courtesy and fairness.’ But as with most rules in the LPR78, it is observed more in the breach than compliance. It is regrettable that lawyers are characterised in their dealings as being not candid, discourteous and unfair.
Honesty and candour between colleagues at the Bar are important and necessary to our work. It is the mark of a good lawyer as surely as the traits of dishonesty and evasiveness are a mark of a corrupt one.
Second, the Petitioner is a person of integrity i.e. a person who holds strongly to his values and moral principles. He holds fast to them and will stay true to them no matter how great the cost is. As he says himself, If you want principle, get ready to pay for it.
The Petitioner told me that he has a principle when it comes to work: Don’t bring work home. This principle is necessary to ensure the Petitioner has sufficient time to rest and recover from work. What that means is he would not go home until his work was done, and when he was at home, he would not pick up the phone. In doing so, he would exhaust himself at the office or find himself on the receiving end for not picking up his phone.
Naturally, he suffered in holding fast to this principle during his pupilage. In fact, anyone that lives according to their principles will inevitably suffer. But it is in that suffering whilst holding fast to our principles is where integrity lies. We cannot have integrity without pain, suffering and perseverance, because giving in to convenience or habit is not integrity.
Finally, the Petitioner is a fair man. It is that fairness that moderates his idealism and expectations and cultivates a sense of realism in his outlook. When I asked him, Why do you want to be a lawyer? He answered, Despite my cynicism of the legal profession – what I want to believe for now is That the legal profession is a service. To do that service may not earn me money. On the contrary, doing that service may cost me money. [It’s called Pro-Bono, young man] But for now, I want to serve as a lawyer. …’
My Lord, I submit that the Petitioner should be given that opportunity to serve at the Bar. He has the requisite good character to be fit and proper person for legal practice. He has the necessary industry, intelligence, independence, initiative and integrity for it.
In closing, the Petitioner would like to thank God, his family and his Master, Encik Shamsul Bahrin bin Abdul Manaf of Messrs Mohanadass Partnership and everyone at the firm for helping him along.
I believe the Petitioner’s cause papers are in order. I am certain my colleagues have no objections to them because they have not filed and served their written notice of objection pursuant to section 16(2) LPA76.
I pray that the Petitioner be admitted and enrolled as an advocate and solicitor in the High Court of Malaya.
Called on 22.7.2022