Note: This is another call speech by Amer Hamzah Arshad. The speech was delivered sometime in 2010. I asked Amer specifically for a copy of this speech because I liked how he submitted about the requirement to demonstrate ‘good character’ in a call speech. As far as I know, this is the only speech that dissects the relevant provisions. I was present when he delivered the speech as I moved a call at the same session. I recall one of the movers next to me hissed complainingly about why Amer was submitting on the law in a call speech. In response, I glared at him, put my index finger to my lips then touched behind my right ear. When my good friend is making a point, shut the hell up. In our heydays, whenever lawyers saw both Amer and I moving calls at the same session, they knew they were in for a long session! Again, I lightly edited the speech for readability.
Amer Hamzah Arshad appears on behalf of the Petitioner.
My learned friends representing the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Bar Council and the KL Bar Committee have already been introduced earlier.
I appear before Your Ladyship today representing one Mr Lee Kin Hing who is seeking to be admitted as an Advocate & Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya. The law as it stands in relation to the admission of a person into the legal profession is governed by the Legal Profession Act 1976.
Pursuant to Section 10 of the Legal Profession Act 1976, only certain categories of people are allowed to be admitted as an Advocate and Solicitor. The section reads:-
The High Court may at its discretion and subject to this Act admit as an advocate and solicitor of the High Court any qualified person.
This begs the question of whether the Petitioner before My Lady is a ‘qualified person’. To answer this question, reference must be made to Section 3 of the LPA which provides for the definition of ‘qualified person’. It reads:-
“qualified person” means any person who –
(a) has passed the final examination leading to the degree of Bachelor of Laws of the University of Malaya, the University of Malaya in Singapore, the University of Singapore or the National University of Singapore;
(b) is a barrister-at-law of England
Based on the cause papers and the supporting documents before this Court, the petitioner clearly does not fall within the first category. The Petitioner, however, falls within the second category. To substantiate this, reference can be made to the cause papers and the supporting documents which will show that the Petitioner obtained his LLB from Anglia Ruskin University, Essex, UK in 2000 and subsequently completed the Bar Vocational Course at BPP Law School (Holborn, London) in 2007 where the Petitioner obtained a very competent grade. He has been a member of Grays Inn since.
From the period upon completing his degree until the commencement of his BVC, the Petitioner had been working as a ‘case worker’ with a non-profit organisation which provides legal aid services.
I have presented before this Honourable Court sufficient material to establish that the Petitioner is a qualified person within the meaning of Section 10 of the LPA. I now proceed to show that the Petitioner had also complied with the requirements under Section 12 of the LPA which requires a qualified person to serve a period of pupillage for a period of nine months (which is commonly known as the period of bondage and servitude).
Based on the cause papers and the supporting documents, it is evident that the Petitioner did his pupillage at Messrs. Azmi & Associates from July 2009 to April 2010. During this period, the Petitioner was exposed to and trained in the area of corporate law where he learned a lot from the senior lawyers in the firm especially Encik Azmi and Tuan Haji Rasheed Khan and also from his pupil-master, Puan Serina abd Abd Samad.
Apart from showing that the petitioner is a qualified person who had done his pupillage, Section 11 of the LPA requires the Petitioner to be a person of good character before he can be admitted. To prove that the Petitioner is indeed a person of good character, I have with me in court today, two material witnesses who can vouch and attest to the Petitioner’s character. They are Mr Lee Keat Cheong and Madam Low Yut Chan, the proud parents of the Petitioner.
Lest the parents of the Petitioner be categorised as interested witnesses, there is other independent evidence which can be relied upon by this court in order to make a finding of fact that the Petitioner is indeed a person who is of good character. As mentioned earlier, when the Petitioner was in England, he had been active in voluntary work as a ‘case worker’ in a non-profit organisation. Apart from that, the Petitioner’s passion and interest in legal aid work clearly demonstrate the fact that the Petitioner is a person of good character.
As such, based on what I have submitted thus far, it is beyond any shadow of a doubt that the Petitioner is indeed a fit and proper person to be admitted as an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya.
However, before I proceed to seek for order in terms, I have been instructed by my client (the Petitioner) to thank several individuals.
The petitioner would like to thank his parents, Lee Keat Cheong and Low Yut Chan, grandmother (Madam Chong Tai, who has taken great care of him since he was born), his wife, his sister, friends and colleagues for their support.
He would also like to thank all of those who are in Azmi & Associates, in particular, Encik Azmi and Tuan Haji Rasheed Khan for the practical legal and commercial knowledge that they have imparted to him and also for their patience and guidance.
In addition, the petitioner is also grateful for the training and experience that he received when he was doing his legal aid duties and would like to thank the staff and voluntary lawyers of the Legal Aid Clinic. According to the Petitioner, he learned the importance and the necessity of having a legal aid system as access to justice will be denied without this. Without a legal aid system, the disadvantaged community will be denied access to legal justice. The petitioner further believes that legal aid is necessary, especially in a criminal justice system.
The Petitioner would also like to state that whilst he aims to become a successful corporate lawyer, he believes he shall at the same time play an active role in promoting and advocating the legal interests of the disadvantaged community in society, regardless of their race and religion.
Before I take my seat and pray for order in terms, I seek Your Ladydship’s leave to read out an excerpt from the book, Letters to a Young Lawyer, by Prof Alan Dershowitz. This book was introduced to me by my friend Mr Fahri Azzat during my early days in practice. It has been my guide ever since. I would be failing in my duty as the mover if I do not share it with the Petitioner:-
“Don’t love the law. It will inevitably disappoint you. Understand the law is a tool, a mechanism, a construct. It is a false idol like so many others in life….
Don’t respect the law, unless it merits your respect. The law in Nazi Germany or in apartheid South Africa or in the Jim Crow South did not deserve respect. The Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v Gore should be followed – that’s what it means to live under the rule of law. But it should not be respected, any more than the robed cheaters who wrote it should be respected. [The] law today sometimes deserves respect, other times it deserves condemnation. It must be always be obeyed, but it need not be admired. Honesty is more important than respect.
If you don’t love the law, what should you love (aside from your loved ones)? Love liberty. Love justice. Love the good that law can produce. Aspirations don’t disappoint, so long as you realize that the struggle for liberty, justice and anything else worth pursuing never stays won.”
All the cause papers are complete and in order and I know not of any objection from my learned friends. I sincerely hope that my learned friends representing the relevant parties will support this application. Therefore, My Lady, I respectfully pray that this Honourable Court admits and registers Lee Kin Heng as an Advocate & Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya.