The Malaysian Bar's International Malaysia Law Conference ("IMLC") 2018 took place from 14 to 17 Aug 2018 at The Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur.
1. It is indeed an honour to deliver the closing remarks of the International Malaysia Law Conference 2018.
2. The dramatic turn of events in the political and legal landscape in Malaysia the past 18 months intensified the already challenging task of organising the International Malaysian Law Conference 2018.
3. Raising the Bar: Innovate. Integrate. Emulate — our theme for IMLC this year reflects the aspirations of the Malaysian Bar to face the rapid onslaught and speed of innovation and technology impacting the legal profession. In tandem with this, the Organising Committee had also focused on our continuous advocacy on critical rule of law issues confronting lawyers and society today, in the New Malaysia as well as globally. We had set out to raise our own bar by delivering IMLC 2018 with an extensive 4–day conference premised upon an array of exciting domestic and international topical issues.
4. 4 days, 7 plenary sessions, 49 breakout and working group sessions, 213 speakers and moderators from all over the world, 374 domestic and international delegates. In planning this mammoth unprecedented mission, the Organising Committee was always mindful that not only should there be a wide–range of topics and areas of law, but conscious efforts were made to ensure that the Malaysian Bar commits itself to diversity and inclusivity for its topics and panellists — in the context of gender, nationality, industry, age, race and religion.
5. After 4 intensive and stimulating days of presentations, discussions and networking, it is my utmost pleasure to conclude this Conference by presenting to you a summary of what was achieved and what lies ahead.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
6. We heard the Honourable Attorney General, Yang Bahagia Tuan Tommy Thomas, deliver the opening address where he spoke candidly on the 14th General Election, Constitutionalism, the Judiciary, the Malaysian Bar and his expectations on what he intends to achieve as the nation’s top legal officer. IMLC 2018 also saw its’ first in its history, a special session with the Attorney General, where many delegates sacrificed their lunch, just to appease their hunger for more insight into the 1MDB saga and Equanimity.
7. The Malaysian Bar was indeed privileged to then have His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah to grace the event and deliver his illuminating keynote address. His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin delivered a poignant and apt message when he proclaimed that democracy does not stop at elections and the ballot box; that the rule of law and administration of justice must be advocated by all including voters themselves and effective implementation of the doctrine of separation of powers within the governing system is crucial to the rule of law and democracy. HRH Sultan Nazrin’s address is indeed an excellent cue to affirm, strengthen and celebrate the Rule of Law, democracy and fundamental rights and liberties in the New Malaysia.
8. IMLC’s signature ‘Hard Talk’ this year lived up to the title, thanks to Dato’ Dr. Professor Gurdial Singh Nijar. He took the 5 panellists to task by asking very hard questions, in his own unique genial way that had the crowd rolling in laughter despite the hard–hitting questions. The panellists proved their mettle and activism spirit by handling those tough questions with gumption and conviction.
9. The highlight of IMLC 2018 was undeniably the 5th Raja Aziz Addruse Memorial Lecture on Wednesday entitled ‘30th Anniversary of the 1988 Judicial Crisis: Lessons about the Importance of Judicial Independence and Impartiality’. The lecture was delivered by none other than the luminary of Malaysian constitutional law, Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr. Hj Shad Saleem Faruqi. Professor Shad’s brave and honest analysis of the state of independence of the judiciary in Malaysia ended with the memorable conclusion that the judicial winter that descended in 1988 has not fully thawed, but recent developments have shown that judicial activism is slowly blooming in the present day. He observed that “despite some flaws in the laws, judges are free to walk the path of justice as their conviction beckons them to. Many do. Ultimately the issue is one of character, courage and integrity.”
10. The 7 plenary sessions brought to the forefront passionate discussions on the aftermath of the 14th General Election, Freedom of Speech and Expression, Freedom of Religion, Significant Roles for Women in the Law in leadership positions, Independence of the Legal Profession, The Judiciary as Principal Guardians of the Rule of Law, and of course as you have heard a moment ago – Equanimity and the handling of criminal investigations relating to Government Corruption and Abuse of Power.
11. This conference brought together lawyers, judges, academicians, industry leaders and human rights defenders from all over the world; who shared their respective acumens into the many challenges faced in this era of innovative disruption as well as traditional rule of law issues. The 2018 IMLC provided participants a platform for interactive and engaging dialogues on artificial intelligence, arbitration, cyber risk and insurance, evolving law firm structures, fintech, innovations in the legal profession, corporate responsibilities, sports law, child sexual abuse, competition law, women in law, data protection, the death penalty, young lawyers’ issues, access to justice for investors in cross border dispute resolution, and persons with differing abilities.
12. We learnt that the largest significant barrier to women in law in leadership positions is due to unconscious bias and the existence of the ‘big boys’ club; and that the men can take ownership of this issue by supporting the cause and work hand in hand to remove these obstacles.
13. We learnt that we should embrace innovations and technology in our practice not just because we need to keep up with the times but because automation can increase productivity and efficiency. We learnt that humanity is the one thing that we human beings have, which artificial intelligence does not – hence, there is no need to fear that artificial intelligence will take over the legal sector completely.
14. We learnt that the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession will always remain critical to a true democratic society and that these values will never grow old.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
15. IMLC 2018 may be coming to a close but this must not mark an end to our future endeavors. We hope that this conference has provided each one of you an edifying experience and the opportunity to expand your horizon of knowledge so as to transform yourselves appropriate for the 21st century work environment. Ann Voskamp author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are said, “Practice is the hardest part of learning, but training is the essence of transformation.”
16. In conclusion, we wish to record our appreciation to all those who contributed towards putting this Conference together. It required considerable dedication and hard work.
17. Please allow us to express our appreciation particularly to the panelists. The high–quality presentations have contributed to our vault of knowledge and information. In this regard, all our distinguished speakers must be congratulated for their efforts. Their presence has been invaluable and has helped make IMLC 2018 a success.
18. We also express our sincere gratitude to all delegates for their dedication and contribution to the Conference.
19. We thank all our sponsors, for being part of making IMLC 2018 happen.
20. Steven and I would like to extend our gratitude to our organising committee, and everyone from the Bar Council’s Secretariat.
(a) Thank you to our emcees Charmaine and Mysahra. What a fantastic job both of you have done.(b) Our profound appreciation to the amazing Santhi Latha, who magically steered the entire IMLC programme, every session, every speaker and moderator, and every delegate, to make this conference worthy of all the aspirations of the Malaysian Bar. Many delegates have commended us on the conference programme. We are delighted that the programme was well received. It was an ambitious attempt to raise the bar, and I hope we have succeeded in doing so. Santhi deserves special mention for the IMLC 2018 programme. We gave her an unwieldy structure, many random ideas and a loose collection of possible speakers. She took all that raw data, and tirelessly shaped them into a diverse, viable and substantive programme that we can all be very proud of. Thank you, Santhi, for helping us raise the bar.(c) Our heartfelt thanks to the fabulous Anne Andrew who was masterful in coordinating the VIPs, logistics and entertainment.(d) To the wise Lily Aw, our Finance Director for always keeping us within the budgetary lines with her financial acumen.(e) A huge ‘thank you’ to our editorial team — Oysim, Joane, Anneliz, Sha–Lyn, Stella and their team. What an astounding job with the layout of our programme, circulars and publicity materials, rounding up volunteer reporters for the IMLC Newspaper.(f) I know I have not mentioned everyone at the Secretariat, but all your efforts in running the conference, from registration, keeping time, making announcements, reigning the moderators in, are very much appreciated. We are indeed indebted to your commitment to the Malaysian Bar.(g) Lastly and certainly not least, our Rajen Devaraj. No words are enough to express our thanks to you and your mastery in continuously raising the bar for the Secretariat.
21. To my Co–Chairperson of IMLC 2018, Steven Thiru — You have been an exemplary and visionary co–chairperson. It was a true pleasure to jointly work with you on this project.
22. I am pleased to bring the 2018 IMLC to a close. See you all at the next IMLC.