Contributed by Sumitha Shaanthinni Kishna, Executive Officer, Bar Council
The Bar Council Industrial Law Committee (“ILC”) Annual Dinner 2011 took place at 7:00 pm, at Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel, on 15 Dec 2011 (Thursday). The event was attended by approximately 110 guests, including Chairmen of the Industrial Courts of various states. Two guests of honour, YA Susila Sithamparam (President of the Industrial Court) and YA Tuan Franklin Goonting (former Chairman of the Industrial Court) graced the dinner.
After all guests had been seated, Anand Ponnudurai (Chairperson of ILC), rose to the stage to give his welcome address. Stating that the ILC Annual Dinner 2011 was organised to commemorate ILC’s achievements for the past year, he highlighted that it was also held to acknowledge the Industrial Court’s continued support to the Malaysian Bar, and to ILC in particular.
He gave a brief update of ILC’s work during the term, pointing out that a major issue that had taken up most of ILC’s attention for the term had been the Ministry of Human Resources’ proposed amendments to labour laws, especially the Employment Act, Industrial Law Act and Trade Union Act. He explained that after the Malaysian Bar had issued a press statement on 23 June 2010 to oppose the proposed amendments, ILC representatives had attended several meetings with the Ministry of Human Resources. He added that they had even participated in a strategic reform initiatives (“SRI”) lab organised by Performance Management & Delivery Unit (“PEMANDU”), a unit under the Prime Minister’s Department, from 21 Feb 2011 to 1 Apr 2011. Despite this, ILC had been excluded from subsequent meetings with the Ministry of Human Resources to discuss the SRI lab report. He then urged the Ministry to reconsider its decision and include the Malaysian Bar in future stakeholders meetings related to labour law.
In his speech, Anand Ponnudurai expressed gratitude to the Industrial Courts for having invited ILC to participate in consultative committee meetings chaired by YA Susila Sithamparam. He revealed that during those discussions, issues pertaining to the practice and procedures of the Industrial Court were raised. He also reminded legal practitioners to be considerate when requesting for adjournments of long–standing cases, and to keep the Industrial Court informed on the outcome of judicial review proceedings to enable them to keep their records updated. On behalf of ILC, he thanked the Chairmen of the Industrial Courts for imparting their wisdom and knowledge to the participants of ILC’s employment law seminars, which had been held in November 2011. He also welcomed the new Chairmen of the Industrial Courts appointed in 2011, and bade farewell to YA Tuan Franklin Goonting, who had retired that year, and YA Mariah @ Maliah bt Ahmad, whom he congratulated on her appointment as the new Chairman of the Advisory Board in Prime Minister's Department with effect from 1 Dec 2011.
In wrapping up his speech, Anand Ponnudurai conveyed his gratitude to YA Susila Sithamparam and the Chairmen of the Industrial Courts for their continued assistance to Bar Council and ILC. He also voiced his appreciation to the Office Bearers of the Bar, and members of Bar Council, for their support. He ended his address by thanking the ILC Annual Dinner 2011 Organising Committee and ILC members for their contribution.
Lim Chee Wee (President of the Malaysian Bar) was up next to give his special address. He began by mentioning that he had accepted the dinner invitation without hesitation, as he valued the kindred spirit that was very much alive amongst industrial law practitioners. He shared that he hoped to see such camaraderie spread to the 14,000–odd legal practitioners. He went on to say that the special bond between industrial law practitioners was a reflection of ILC’s leadership, and that ILC had many great leaders, especially Anand Ponnudurai. He also expressed appreciation for the distinctive relationship that ILC had forged with the Industrial Courts. He concluded his address by thanking the Chairmen of the Industrial Courts for their cooperation and understanding towards Members of the Bar. Thereafter, Lim Chee Wee and Anand Ponnudurai presented YA Susila Sithamparam with a painting of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building as a token of appreciation.
The evening continued with emcee David Matthew inviting guests to indulge in a sumptuous international buffet while a live band belted out songs from various decades. The ILC Annual Dinner 2011 was made even livelier by duet performances by Sonia Abraham and Gregory Ling (Members of the Bar), and YA Dato’ Mary Shakila and YA Tuan Fredrick Indran XA Nicholas (Chairmen of the Industrial Court). The latter performance was undeniably the highlight of the evening’s entertainment.
As the guests relaxed after dinner, Steven Thiru (Treasurer of the Malaysian Bar), led a surprise tribute to Anand Ponnudurai for his exemplary leadership and contribution to ILC. Noting that ILC had previously been known as the “Industrial Court Practice Committee”, he stated that Anand Ponnudurai had served ILC for the past 14 years with other doyens of ILC. He commended him for discharging his duties with remarkable ability whilst forging lasting ties between the Malaysian Bar and the Industrial Courts. He added that Anand Ponnudurai enjoyed the respect of many senior industrial law practitioners, and was admired and adored by the juniors. Emphasising that he was well–respected by the Industrial Court Chairmen and a familiar face with the court staff, Steven Thiru remarked that Anand Ponnudurai had been instrumental in the evolution of ILC to its current stature: not only a balanced and objective voice, but also a relevant stakeholder in upholding justice and the rule of law in the ideologies of workers and employers. All guests were then invited to join in a toast to Anand Ponnudurai, which was followed by the presentation of a token of appreciation to him by Andrew Saw (a senior member of ILC).
The ILC Annual Dinner 2011 ended at midnight and all guests walked away with fond memories of a truly delightful event.