Mr. Lim Chee Wee, President of the Malaysian Bar;
YAA Tan Sri Arifin Bin Zakaria, Chief Justice of Malaysia;
YABhg Tun Dato’ Seri Zaki Bin Tun Azmi;
YBhg Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Khalid Ahmad, Chairman of the Advocates and Solicitors Disciplinary Board;
Mr. Khairil Azmi, President of Advocates' Association of Sarawak
Mr. Naandy Ganesh, President of Sabah Law Association;
Mr. Leo Cheng Suan, Vice President of Singapore Law Society;
Members of the diplomatic corp;
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen;
Permit me to start with a short introduction of the Malaysian Bar Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Malaysian Bar Lifetime Achievement Award was mooted by the Bar Council in 2009, as a form of recognition by the Bar to members of the Bar who have, in their lifetime, made invaluable and outstanding contributions to the Bar.
There are some who maintain that those who have served the Bar should remain nameless, although such service is often onerous, calls for sacrifice of one’s time, resources and is at times at the expense of one’s own interests; that the satisfaction derived from having contributed to our fellow members’ welfare, to have served the Bar and the Malaysian community, and in doing what is right should be reward in itself. This is of course a commendable attitude to have for those who serve the Bar. However, this should not pose an impediment to us, the Malaysian Bar, from recognising and appreciating those who have selflessly given dedicated and outstanding service.
Thus, it was agreed by Council last year that some form of recognition should be given to those outstanding Bar Members who have demonstrated particular dedication and exemplary lifetime service.
The task of putting substance to the proposal was placed in the good and able hands of my fellow Bar Councillor Syamsuriatina Ishak (or Tina as most of us know her). Tina led the organisation of the award, which included drafting the selection criteria, setting up the nomination and selection process, and the various logistical requirements for an award of this nature. Any and all members of the Malaysian Bar are eligible to make nominations. Nominations for this years’ inaugural award were sought via the Bar Council’s circular to members in October last year and the Bar’s website. And tonight is the result of her hard work. Thank you Tina.
For this year, a selection committee comprising members of the Executive Committee of the Bar Council was formed, and they were asked to select candidates who had made outstanding and significant lifetime contributions to the Malaysian Bar, whether in terms of leadership, service to the Bar and country, or in their practice, and which contributions had a significant, historical and lasting impact on the legal profession and the community at large.
It is an honour for me, and it gives me much pleasure to announce to you tonight that the Malaysian Bar recognises with much pride, love and gratitude the selfless and invaluable contributions and service of our beloved past president, the late Raja Aziz Addruse as the recipient of the Inaugural Malaysian Bar Lifetime Achievement Award.
Raja Aziz Addruse was, by popular request, the President of the Malaysian Bar three times: 1976–1978, 1988–1989 and 1992–1993. He also served as a member of Bar Council for a period of 21 years.
Ungku, as he was affectionately known to the members of the Bar, was born in Chemor, Perak on 10 Feb 1936. In 1954, he left for England to read law at the University of Bristol, and was called to the English Bar by the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn in 1960.
Upon his return to Malaya the same year, he joined the Federal Judicial and Legal Services as a deputy public prosecutor, and later, as a deputy parliamentary draftsman, working under Malaya’s first Parliamentary Draftsman, Reginald Hugh Hickling, who had a hand in the drafting of the Federal Constitution. Ungku subsequently left public office to join our ranks at the Malaysian Bar and to take up the robes of an advocate and solicitor. He was admitted and enrolled on 8 Jan 1966, and entered private practice with Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen, practising under the name of Rithauddeen & Aziz.
At the Malaysian Bar, Ungku was undoubtedly a legal luminary and a doyen of the Bar. His unequivocal commitment to a strong and independent Bar and the independence of the Judiciary – two essential elements of the rule of law – is legendary.
In the finest tradition of the Bar, Ungku was fearless in defending the rule of law and the administration of justice. The law reports are replete with cases in which Ungku appeared and argued, including cases involving the Federal Constitution and preventive detentions without trial.
In the defence of the Constitution, the Judiciary and the separation of powers, most notably, he represented the former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas when the latter was tribunalised upon the advice of the then–Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, and removed from office in the 1988 constitutional crisis. Those were bleak days for the Judiciary, the Malaysian Bar and the rule of law. The dark clouds from those days hung over us for 20 years. Throughout that time, Ungku was relentless and steadfast in his defence of the rule of law, the administration of justice, the Bar and the independence of the Judiciary. After Tun Salleh was deposed, Ungku refused to appear in the Supreme Court whilst the late Tun Hamid Omar was Lord President, the latter having presided over the tribunal which removed his immediate predecessor.
In 2001, Ungku publicly questioned and criticised the appointment of Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim as the Chief Judge of Malaya, when the then–senior most Federal Court judge, Justice Abdul Malik Ahmad, was bypassed in the appointment.
In the defence of a strong and independent Bar, Ungku appeared as lead counsel (a) for Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy who, as the Secretary of the Bar Council in 1985, was charged in the High Court with sedition – Dato’ Param later became president of the Bar; (b) for Manjeet Singh Dhillon, the then Secretary of the Bar Council, who was cited for contempt of the Supreme Court in 1989 for statements he had made in an affidavit in the performance of the duties of his office – Manjeet Singh Dhillon also later became president of the Bar; (c) for the Malaysian Bar in an application (in the High Court and in the subsequent appeal to the Supreme Court), to challenge the constitutionality of the then section 46A of the Legal Profession Act 1976 which provided, inter–alia, that advocates and solicitors of less than seven years’ standing at the Malaysian Bar could not be members of the Bar Council, of the Bar Council Committees and any of the State Bar Committees. He acted as lead counsel in defending two suits brought by one of our own members in 1999 and 2000 seeking to injunct and gag the voice of the Malaysian Bar at its annual general meeting and extraordinary general meeting.
Ungku gave life and true meaning to the statutory duty of the Malaysian Bar, that is, “to uphold the cause of justice without regard to its own interests or that of its members, uninfluenced by fear or favour.” He was truly a guardian and protector of our faith and profession.
On the international front, Ungku was a member of the Mission to Hong Kong, appointed by the International Commission of Jurists in April 1991, to gather information and obtain views on the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China on 1 July 1997. The Mission’s report entitled “Countdown to 1997” was published in March 1992.
In May 2006, he was elected as a Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists.
Ungku was a strong advocate of human rights. He helped found the National Human Rights Society, also known as HAKAM. He served as HAKAM’s President from 1992 to 1997, and again from 2000 to 2001.
Ungku was a highly principled man with unquestionable integrity. He was awarded the Lifetime Professional Integrity Award by the Malaysian Professional Centre (Balai Ikhtisas Malaysia) for his outstanding professional integrity on 11 April 2010.
Let’s hear what others have to say about this giant of the Bar.
Ladies & gentlemen, Ungku is regarded by the Malaysian Bar as the “Gold Standard” to which every member of our profession should aspire. Ungku was a towering Malaysian in every facet – in intellect, integrity, humility, in personality and character. The Malaysian Bar has indeed been blessed by his leadership, and many of us feel most honoured and privileged to be associated with him.
Ungku passed away on 12 July 2011, but we do not gather tonight to mourn him but to honour this great man who was the best amongst us. He was our inspiration in his lifetime, and he remains so today; his spirit lives on in every Malaysian lawyer who believes in justice and fights for it every day. “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood.” This was said by Albert Einstein of Mahatma Gandhi. The Malaysian Bar say the same of our Ungku.
With this, may I call upon the President of the Malaysian Bar, Mr Lim Chee Wee, to rise to the stage to present the Award posthumously, in the form of a Trophy and Certificate.
Accepting on behalf of the family of the late Raja Aziz Addruse is a dear and close friend of the Addruse family, and a legal luminary in his own right, Tan Sri LC Vohrah.
10 March 2012