Call Speech for Sanjay Nathan Visvanathan

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Call Speech for Sanjay Nathan Visvanathan

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May it please your Lordship,

The Petitioner is the elder of the two sons of Mr M Visvanathan and Madam Ong Puay Hioh.

There are many paths to the practice of law. Some of us came here because of parental expectations; some because they do not know what to do, others because of a natural inclination for the study of law. Then there are those born and bred for the practice of law; I would count the Petitioner in this group.

The initial impetus for the law was obviously the deft efforts of the Petitioner’s father, Mr Visvanathan, who is himself a senior, articulate and selfless lawyer known for his campaigning efforts for EDICT, Eliminating Deaths and Abuse in Custody Together. The Petitioner told me, “I was exposed to the legal profession and the law since a very young age and I owe this to my father. He used to regale us with his tales of his exploits in court and stories of client meetings ranging from the hilarious to the downright horrifying.”

It was clear from the Petitioner’s account that even as Mr Visvanathan was seducing the Petitioner into a career in law, he fulfilled his duty to give full and frank disclosure. Though I am more acquainted with Mr Visvanathan’s good work than I am with the man himself I have little hesitation in describing him as a good man doing good work; he is both an inspiration and an example.

The Petitioner clearly has good pedigree for the law. How could he not with a fantastic role model for law and life, starting with his father? His attitude toward the practice of law was properly calibrated and remains in place. The Petitioner said he understood the legal profession “was a profession that provided a service. Lawyers are problem-solvers. We provide solutions to legal problems that a client has. … I learned that there was a distinction between a ‘service’ and a ‘business’…. It was only when I started my pupillage journey that I discovered otherwise.” That the Petitioner thinks the legal profession is one of service instead of a business is a heartening one and will swell the ranks of those of us that think alike.

My Lord, the Petitioner is one of those I think of as an all-rounder type of person. Not only is he blessed with natural good looks; during his time at the Methodist Boys’ Secondary School he was the head prefect and sports captain for his house in addition to sub-editorial work for his school magazine; at Cardiff University, where he completed his Bachelor of Laws, he featured often in the Malaysian student cultural shows; and he also appears to be one of those for whom good academic grades is a matter of expectation, not hope.

In his CV, under the title Other Work Experience, the Petitioner says he worked as a waiter for 5 months at a restaurant called Jalan Malaysia in Cardiff between November 2017 – March 2018. In that time, the Petitioner not only took orders and dealt with counter customers, but he also had to clean the toilets and bar area in addition to managing and accounting for monies received until the end of his shift. I contend that with that job, the Petitioner received excellent training for the law; he learned how to take instructions properly and deal with indifferent yet demanding clients; get a taste for the common legal work he would be undertaking – other people’s messy and smelly problems fancifully distributed by a ceiling fan, and being a fiduciary for a laughable fee. In addition to that, the Petitioner had a short internship with my firm and the firm of Messrs Chan Yen Hui in 2017 prior to commencing his pupillage with Messrs Kanesalingam & Co. under my good friend, Mr K. Shanmuga.

In the Petitioner’s short time with me at the firm, I know him to be a diligent, curious, thoughtful, and intelligent young man. His parents have done a wonderful job in inculcating the right attitude and values in him, which I know will be a boon both to the bar and the bench.

When I asked him what he wanted to accomplish in his legal career, he said, I’d like to make my parents proud, and to be well-off enough to ensure that they would be able to live the rest of their lives comfortably. I spoke about change earlier, and in this current political climate, I am even considering being an MP further down the road. But most importantly, as my mother always says, “We are here to serve. That is your purpose in life. You help others in need to the best of your ability.” I intend to live by that principle.”

I resonate entirely with the Petitioner’s mother on that. The life of a lawyer is a life in the service of others, not the lawyer’s own interests. I would like to believe if we took that as our starting point for our work and outlook in life and in law, the rest takes care of itself.

On the strength of that statement by the Petitioner alone, I feel confident in submitting the Petitioner possesses the requisite good character to be a fit and proper person to be called to the bar. I believe his time under my friend Mr K Shanmuga was undoubtedly a fruitful and enlightening period. I have known Mr K Shanmuga well before we were called to the bar on the same day and know him to be an excellent lawyer.

Although we are peers, he has always served as a role model of the kind of lawyer I aspire to be – frighteningly intelligent, thoroughly well-read and articulate – all the traits that also make him a trusted but a rather annoying friend at times. 9 months with Mr K Shanmuga is akin to at least a 3-year undergraduate degree; however, in the Petitioner’s words, Unfortunately, a big chunk of my pupillage was spent at home due to Covid and MCO. I felt that I missed out a lot in terms of real-world legal experience, especially considering the fact that K. Shanmuga was my master. However, I enjoyed my time at Kanesalingam & Co. and truthfully,

I want to reassure the Petitioner that the feeling where Mr K Shanmuga and the other partner, Mr Jeya Kumar, are concerned is mutual. My Lord, the present pandemic has made starting and building a career much more challenging simply because legal work has become scarce and the fees even more miserable than before; there are now even fewer places for so many. In such a climate, only those with the requisite skillset, attitude and right network will survive the culling to come; and I have every faith the Petitioner will be amongst the survivors that will go on to flourish.

My Lord, the Petitioner would like to thank his parents who are his only role models. He wrote, They continue to inspire us with their principles and dedication in whatever it is they do. This is what I aspire to, My Lord, for my children to say such nice things about me later. He also wants to extend thanks to his younger brother, Pushan Qin Nathan, and his friends at University, at the bar, and everyone at Messrs Kanesalingam & Co. for their support, companionship, and guidance.

My Lord, I submit the Petitioner’s cause papers are in order; that my learned friends would have no objection to the cause papers.

I pray that the Petitioner be admitted and enrolled as an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Malaya.

Called on 10.12.2020.

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