Call Speech for Muhammad Naufal bin Othman

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Call Speech for Muhammad Naufal bin Othman

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Note: This was the only call speech that I wrote and was supposed to deliver but could not owing to a very bad back spasm that paralyzed me on the morning of the call. So please warm up before you do your sporting activities to avoid that! A big thanks go to my ever-reliable colleague, Asim Ng, for stepping in at the very last minute. I called him frantically at 730am and his response was, Don’t worry, sir. I’ll sort it out. And he did just that. My man.

May it please Your Lordship,

I am especially grateful for the presence of my learned friends from the AGC, and Bars for being here this morning.

Although the Petitioner, Muhammad Naufal bin Othman, hails from Kulim, Kedah, he spent most of his life in Bukit Mertajam, Penang until he left for his secondary education. He is the youngest of four boys of Puan Yasmin Md Nor and Encik Othman Abdullah. Both are present this morning. His mother was a primary school teacher. His father was a Telekom Malaysian technician. And they have every reason to be proud of the Petitioner.

My Lord, the Petitioner went to the famed Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) where some of our brightest young minds go for their secondary education. After that, he did his Foundation in Law at UITM. Thereafter he completed his Bachelor of Laws at the University of Malaya graduating in 2021 with a strong second upper. He did his pupilage in the chambers of Rashid Zulkifli under the tutelage of my friend, Encik Abdul Rashid bin Ismail.

In merely recounting the Petitioner’s academic qualifications, we know nothing of the richness of the Petitioner’s accomplishments or more importantly, his character.

And it is that I shall turn to in a moment after we briefly consider the Petitioner’s name. I submit it is relevant to his good character, which I am obliged to establish in my speech pursuant to section 11(1)(b) of the Legal Profession Act 1976. Only this element of good character is lacking from the cause papers filed. Good character cannot be proved by paper, only by people. And that is why I am before Your Lordship today.

My Lord, the name Naufal in Arabic has various shades of meanings. It means ‘extremely generous’, ‘handsome young man’ and ‘ocean or sea’. In Syria, the name means ‘Generous Leader’. My Lord, I submit that the Petitioner is all these things.

I’ll start with the obvious. So I need not state it. A glance will suffice. What I will submit is the Petitioner bears that classic handsome Malay man look from the 50s. By that I mean, if his resume profile photo were black and white and I was told it was taken from the 50s I would believe it. And he is 24 years old. So there we have it, handsome young man.

I had the pleasure of lunch with the Petitioner so I can attest to his personable demeanour. He has a calm about him like the sea in its quiet patches. Like the ocean, there is depth to him: he is well-rounded in accomplishment, well-mannered, articulate both in speech and pen, intelligent and a natural conversationalist. I think him a fine young man with much potential about him.

The Petitioner best resonates with the meaning, Generous Leader and extremely generous. It is from this angle that we can better appreciate his amazing accomplishments and what they say about his character. We see this in his devoted association with the Scouts Association of Malaysia (SAM) and the World Organization of Scout Movement (WOSM). Both these organizations are essentially devoted to contributing to the education of young people through a value based on the Scout Promise and Law.

My Lord, I shall keep to the highlights. We do not have enough time this morning for me to recite his all contributions to these organizations even if I were to read them swiftly and pause only to briefly draw breath.

The Petitioner has been a scout since he was 9 years old. Between 2018 and 2022 the Petitioner represented SAM regionally. If he wasn’t representing them at various conferences, forums, moots, and talks in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, Taiwan, and India, the Petitioner would be organizing such events.

In 2017 he was appointed to WOSM as an Asia Pacific Regional Youth Representative that organized the Regional Youth Leadership Training Course in Thailand last year. That was a significant event for WOSM. The Petitioner is now an external relations consultant for them and a member of their Communication and External Relations Sub-Committee (Asia Pac).

In 2019 he was awarded the Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh Awards. In the same year, he was awarded the Baden Powell Award from the Scouts Association of Malaysia. It is the highest award that can be awarded to scouts above 18 and below 25. In 2021, he was awarded the Pingat Khidmat Bakti Mutiara from the Scouts Association of Malaysia. This was an award given to scout leaders for their outstanding service, sacrifice and contribution during the pandemic.

Additionally, he is a member of Amnesty International Malaysia and the Malaysian Red Crescent Society. He was certified to administer Occupational First Aid, CPR and AED until last year. He is also a Toastmasters International Effective Coaching Level 2. The Petitioner loves cooking

From all these accomplishments and contributions we can confidently infer the qualities of the Petitioner’s character. He is selflessly committed to the service of others and society. He is adaptable and always looking to contribute positively to noble causes. This is what he told me what he wanted to accomplish in his practice:

“I want to really be the one that “helps people”. As such, I would be happy if ever I could assist in giving a second chance on life to those on death row. … I have decided that if ever I leave practice, my direction would be to work for an organization with a cause, regardless for the betterment of humans, animals or even for the better goods of mother nature.’

This attitude is entirely in keeping with a lawyer’s ethic to fearlessly and without favour advocate their client’s interest and a spirit of justice.

I also find the Petitioner to be very thoughtful and emotionally intelligent. These are excellent qualities for a young person to possess. When I asked him why did he decide to study law, this is what he says:

“Unlike many that view a law degree as a requisite to being a legal practitioner, I choose Law because it helps me in improving my standard of thought and the way I view problems in life. I value the study of, among others, conscience, rights and human behaviour.”

This is the study of law as a discipline; not simply as a means to stone step to being a lawyer and ‘making a lot of money’ or ‘working on their legal business development strategy’. In fact, the Petitioner says money is not a motivation for him, his ability to help others is. This is the learning of law to learn a way of thinking. To think like a lawyer as opposed to a computer scientist and chemist. This is understanding the law to see what else he can do with it. The Petitioner’s approach is an uncommon but laudable one. And the type we need more of at the bar.

To conclude my speech about his good character, I’d like to share the Petitioner’s reply to me when I ask him what qualities would help his legal career. He replied Emotional Intelligence. He said: ‘I believe giving advice is ‘an emotional duet’ between a lawyer and the client.’

I thought that an eloquent and beautiful way to express a dimension of a lawyer and client relationship. That statement acknowledges that legal facts are caked with strong emotions, cognitive biases and faulty heuristics demonstrating deep emotional intelligence and maturity.

The legal fraternity could certainly do with more emotionally intelligent and thoughtful lawyers. And honest ones as well. Of that, I have no doubt about the Petitioner. Only if a man is first honest with himself can he be honest with others. The Petitioner strikes me as someone with a high level of awareness and self-awareness. There is much more I can say about the Petitioner but I trust this will suffice. I am happy to provide further written submissions if required.

I, therefore, submit My Lord that the Petitioner has the requisite good character to be a fit and proper person to be called to the Bar.

In closing, the Petitioner would like to thank his parents and family for their support, and his significant other, Nur Illi Batrisyia (sorry ladies). His colleagues at Rashid Zulkifli. Encik Rashid Ismail for sticking by the Petitioner and pushing him beyond his own expectations.

I believe the cause papers are in order. I believe my learned friends have no objections. I pray that the Petitioner be admitted and enrolled as an advocate and solicitor in the High Court of Malaya.

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