Contributed by the National
Young Lawyers Committee
Teng Siew Yik graduated from University of Malaya and was called to the Bar in April 2007. She is currently practising in a firm in Malacca and her area of practice is primarily conveyancing. She shared some of her thoughts with Valerie Choo on the current issues.
You are currently practising in the area of conveyancing. Do you see yourself doing something different in the near future? Most young lawyers have this misconception that lady lawyers are more suitable for conveyancing work rather than litigation work, do you agree with this? What are you views on this comment?
Keeping the optimism and interest alive in whatever you do will always keep you going. That is vital. I enjoy doing what I do now though I do keep my options open. Many, not just young lawyers have the misconception that young female lawyers are suited to do corporate or conveyancing work. To me it is a matter of preference. I have seen young and fiery female lawyers in action. To say female lawyers are less competent than their male counterparts in doing litigation work would be an understatement.
As a young lawyer in the legal profession, do you think that having a young
lawyers committee is relevant? Do you think that drawing a parallel with the
youth wings of associations (political or non political), the legal profession
ought to allow for active participation of young lawyers in Bar activities?
The YLC is relevant. It is a way forward as it is a platform where voices of the young are heard, leadership qualities harnessed.
After the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) held on 9 May 2008, we saw an increase in the Main Fund subscription from RM350 to RM450. What is your view on the RM100 increase and were you agreeable to the increase at the very beginning?
It was a justified move, taking into consideration of the ever increasing cost of living and rising inflation.
Now that there is an increase in subscription, do you think there is still a need to undertake measures to reduce costs and decrease the outflow of funds from the Main Fund? Why?
The Main Fund is depleting, coupled with rising inflation, there is a need to take action to reduce costs and reduce outflow of funds in order to maintain the operational and administrative functions of the secretariat. We should stop the blame game and be co–operative.
As a young lawyer and a legal assistant, would the increase in subscription have any bearing on you?
Prices of commodities and daily goods have increased and now the subscription fees too, do you think salaries of young lawyers and allowances of chambering students ought to be increased too? How has the situation affected you as a young lawyer? Do you think employers should give extra petrol allowance for traveling expenses?
With the challenges of rising inflation and likely global recession, young lawyers have felt the pinch. My view is that the salary package must stay attractive to keep the young lawyers interested in pursuing the profession. In Singapore for example, many young lawyers have since left the profession as the pay are not commensurate with the amount of work they have put in. It will be ludicrous to maintain the salary range that we have now.
What is your comment on the proposal made by our newly–appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim that the Federal Government must make an open apology to those victimised by the judicial crisis in 1988 that led to the sacking of the then Lord President Tun Mohd Salleh Abbas?
The move is commendable by all, though the government has taken a stance that they will not be making a public apology. I think at this point of time, it will be difficult for them to do so.
Our government has decided not to adopt a proposal that the government apologise to the three judges sacked in the 1988 judicial crisis, but to award ex–gratia payment. What is your general opinion on that?
At least something is done to right a wrong, though monetary compensation will never be enough to heal good name tarnished.
Veteran UMNO leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said the Government should have convened a judicial tribunal to re–hear our former Lord President’s case again instead of awarding an ex–gratia payment. Do you think it is a necessary step to take?
It would be an ideal move. But I doubt it will take place. It is important that concerted efforts are put in to restore the judiciary to its golden era. As succinctly put by Tun Salleh Abbas: “If you destroy the judiciary, you destroy the democracy and if you destroy the democracy, you usher in dictatorship.”
Though being a graduate from University of Malaya and not having required to undergo the CLP examinations, I’m sure you have heard lots about it, what are you thoughts on the CLP examinations?
I have heard of dissatisfaction over the CLP examinations. I am in no position to comment as I am not conversant with the mechanics of the CLP examinations. However, I do laud the move that the government is to incorporate the common examination for all law graduates. That is fair. There will be no excuse should one fail the examinations. I am eager to see how the local and overseas graduates fair in the examinations.
The Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP) will soon be scrapped in favour of the Common Bar Course (CBC) and Common Bar Exam (CBE) whereby the aim of the course is to standardize and improve the quality of law practitioners. What is your view on this issue?
It came in timely. The purpose of incorporating CBE is to improve the level of competency, qualification and standards of young lawyers. The common evaluation system is needed to avoid the standards of the legal profession being compromised.
Justice Datuk Ian H. C. Chin recently revealed that a former prime minister had threatened to remove judges. Justice Chin also said he was sent off to a boot camp together with selected judges and judicial officers. What are your views on that statement? Do you think a Royal Commission of Inquiry should be set up to investigate into the allegations made?
It is mind boggling to read such revelations. Parties concerned have since voiced their statements, but nothing has been done to verify the authenticity of such allegations made. It is worrying. Who is actually telling the truth? The doctrine of separation of powers should not only be upheld and respected, it must also seen to be done. Proposals were voiced to set up the RCI but it has been all talk but no action. Enough talk, let us see immediate action taken. Simple as that.
Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA and the Human Rights Committee of the Bar Council (GMI–HRC) have issued a joint memorandum to urge for the immediate and unconditional release of all ISA detainees and to abolish the Internal Security Act (ISA). What are you comments on that?
The inception of ISA which is also known as “white terror” was for the purpose of maintaining national security. The Act was created almost half a century ago. Fast forward today, I doubt such “archaic” legislation is still relevant. It should not be used to stifle dissent. Our de facto law minister recently stated that there will be no such move to repeal the Act though he welcomed suggestions to amend it. Suggestions were made to repeal the Act, various parties have been fighting long and hard for the release of the detainees and so far such actions have been futile. For how long should we be kept waiting? The detainees and their families are suffering in vain. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Other YL Personalities:
Sia Teng Teng
Alvina Mun Sook Kwan
Melisa Tai Mein–Sze
Vincent Tan Boon Siang
Muhammad Syamsulfaiz Zainuddin
Ummi Kalthum Bt Zakaria
Mohd Taufik Bin Md Tahir
Goh Chuan Chean
Hemalatha Parasa Ramulu
Kho Yieng San
Ng Li Lin
Karthigesan a/l Shanmugam
Juna Binti Jusoh
Albert Ding Choo Earn
Sulaiman Bin Abu Bakar
Nasdrul Umur Bin Shamsulhuda
Sandesh Kabir Singh
Edelina Sophia Binti Sophian Pulle
Mohd Busyairy Bin Che Muda
Wong Fook Meng
Fadiah Nadwa Fikri
Lee Chooi Peng
Angeline Cheah Yin Leng
Mishant a/l Thiruchelvam
Shahrizal Bin Mohd Zin
Rezalman B. Bahran
Gavin Tang Cheng Loong
Noreen Ahmad Ariff
Nadia Ashikin binti Maduarin
David Dinesh Mathew
Nizam Bashir Bin Abdul Kariem Bashir
Amer Hamzah Bin Arshad
Ernie Suffiani Binti Salim
Ahmad Syukri Bin Yusoff
Dipendra Harshad Rai
Soo Wee Loon
Aminuddin bin Abdullah