Contributed by Joe Chin, Officer, with photos by Mohd Fazli Rosman, Administrative Assistant, Bar Council
The International Malaysia Law Conference (“IMLC”) 2014 came to a memorable conclusion on 26 Sept 2014 at The Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur, after the highly engaging final plenary session entitled “National Unity and Harmony: Promoting Respect and Strength in Diversity,” which ended at approximately 5:35 pm.
Syamsuriatina Ishak, the emcee, announced the commencement of the closing ceremony 10 minutes later. She invited Steven Thiru, the Vice–President of the Malaysian Bar, to deliver the Closing Speech.
The Vice–President greeted Yang Amat Mulia Tunku Zain Al–‘Abidin ibni Tuanku Muhriz, Founding President of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Ideas (“IDEAS”); The Honourable Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma, Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong; Yang Arif Tan Sri Abdull Hamid bin Embong, Federal Court Judge; Judges of the Court of Appeal and High Court; Senators and Members of Parliament; Christopher Leong, President of the Malaysian Bar; Brendan Navin Siva, Chairperson of the IMLC 2014 Organising Committee; and the rest of the congregation.
He remarked on the record number of delegates — a total of over 900 — which “far surpasses the attendance of any of our previous law conferences” and “is a monumental achievement” for the Malaysian Bar. This, he said, is a result of building and learning from the inaugural IMLC in 2012, which redefined the philosophy and direction of the earlier Malaysian Law Conference.
He added that this is a significant step forward in light of the Malaysian Bar’s mission to evolve with, and cater to, the nation’s changing needs, and that IMLC 2014 has facilitated the forging of a collaborative relationship with the Law Society of Singapore, the Hong Kong Bar Association and the Australian Bar Association.
Steven Thiru recollected that Christopher Leong’s quotation from Winston Churchill — “To improve is to change. To perfect is to change often” — in his welcoming address on 24 Sept 2014 had set the tone for the conference, in line with its theme, “Reshaping the Legal Profession, Reforming the Law”.
The more than 90 speakers at the IMLC 2014 were congratulated for contributing to the erudition of delegates through their high standards and generous sharing of knowledge.
The Vice–President then proceeded to highlight the key speeches given throughout the three days of the conference. First, he mentioned the Opening Address by Yang Amat Arif Tun Arifin Zakaria, Chief Justice of Malaysia, who spoke of the challenges facing the legal profession, the roles of the lawyer and legal fraternity in adhering to the rule of law and the cause of justice without fear or favour, and the proposed Common Bar Course, for which he expressed support.
The Keynote Address delivered by The Honourable Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma was then mentioned. His Lordship asserted that “honour” is a value that should be close to the heart of all lawyers and not be “relegated into an anachronism these days, as meaning perhaps little more than polite and stylish behaviour”. Steven Thiru thanked Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma for his inspiring Address.
He also commended the speakers of all five plenary sessions, and summarised their contents by pointing out the highlights of each. Special mention also went to the first non–lawyer speaker for the 3rd Raja Aziz Addruse Memorial Lecture, Yang Amat Mulia Tunku Zain Al–‘Abidin ibni Tuanku Muhriz, whose lecture was entitled “Inspirations from Raja Aziz Addruse: Morality and the Rule of Law”. Steven Thiru said that the brilliantly articulated lecture was “by all accounts nothing short of par excellence” and encapsulated Tunku ‘Abidin’s personal relationship with the late Raja Aziz Addruse who had been a family friend, Raja Aziz Addruse’s capacity as a distinguished public figure, and the many values and principles that Raja Aziz Addruse espoused.
The Vice–President then thanked, on behalf of the Malaysian Bar, the members of the IMLC 2014 Organising Committee; the staff of the Bar Council Secretariat, in particular Chief Executive Officer, Rajen Devaraj, and his Deputy, Chin Oy Sim; the volunteers who had given their time and energy generously; and the sponsors.
He concluded his Closing Speech with a warm goodbye and a jovial quote from Lord MacMillan in “A Man of Laws Tale”:
If I may use the language of a well–known lawyer of bygone days, I think I have exhausted my subject, I fear I have exhausted your patience, I know I have exhausted myself.
Syamsuriatina Ishak thanked the Vice–President before inviting Brendan Navin Siva, the IMLC 2014 Chairperson, for his Closing Remarks.
Brendan Navin Siva said that he owed the success of IMLC 2014 to the guidance of his predecessors Roger Tan (2007), Lim Chee Wee (2010) and Raphael Tay (2012). He also attributed his gratitude to Rajen Devaraj, Chin Oy Sim, and the staff of the Bar Council Secretariat. His decision to trust them, he said, had been the best decision he had ever made.
He thanked the speakers and moderators for sharing their abundant knowledge, and the sponsors for their support, and expressed hope that the conference had done its part in engendering “the best possible exposure” for them.
He made special mention of Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma, who was thanked for his “immediate and unequivocal support” and a “truly inspiring” keynote speech; Lord Robert Walker, for his abiding support and insightful talk on an area that is not easily understood; and The Honourable Justice Susan Kiefel AC, Judge of the High Court of Australia, for her erudition on the liability of barristers for negligence.
The Chairperson then invited the President of the Malaysian Bar to present a token of appreciation to Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma and Justice Susan Kiefel AC, who were present in the audience.
He thanked Yang Amat Arif Tun Arifin Zakaria for his strong support in gracing the conference and delivering the Opening Address.
As soon as Brendan Navin Siva concluded the speech, Syamsuriatina announced that he, too, was to receive a memento, in response to which Brendan quipped, “This gift was not approved by the Chairperson!” Hearty chuckles and applause were heard throughout the hall as IMLC 2014 drew to a close.