The Malaysian Bar's International Malaysia Law Conference ("IMLC") 2018 is taking place from 14 to 17 Aug 2018 at The Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur.
Yang Amat Arif the Chief Justice of the Federal Court;
Honourable Cabinet Ministers;
Yang Amat Arif–Yang Amat Arif the President of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Judge of Malaya and the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak;
The Honourable Attorney General;
The Honourable Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives;
Honourable Deputy Ministers;
Your Excellencies High Commissioners and Ambassadors;
Yang Arif–Yang Arif Judges of the Federal Court, Court of Appeal, High Court and Judicial Commissioners;
Director of the Asian International Arbitration Centre;
President of the Sabah Law Society;
Immediate Past President of the Advocates Association of Sarawak;
Leaders of Bars and Law Societies of other jurisdictions;
Co–Chairpersons of IMLC 2018 Organising Committee;
Members of the Bar;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
A very good morning to all of you. On behalf of the Malaysian Bar, it is my great pleasure to welcome all of you to the International Malaysia Law Conference (“IMLC”) 2018, our flagship biennial event.
The Evolution of the International Malaysia Law Conference
The theme for this year’s IMLC is, “Raising the Bar: Innovate. Integrate. Emulate.” In keeping with the theme, allow me to revisit history and take you through briefly how the IMLC has evolved, innovated and reinvented itself since its humble beginnings 2 score and 7 years ago.
The IMLC began as the Malaysian Law Conference, and was inaugurated by the 2nd Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, on 15 July 1971. Subsequently, there have been 15 Malaysian Law Conferences, growing in size and stature with each occasion.
In 2011, the Bar Council decided to re–brand and transform the Malaysian Law Conference, and re–launch it as the International Malaysia Law Conference, commonly referred to as the IMLC.
This led to the staging of the very first IMLC in 2012, under the banner “The Rule of Law and Economic Competitiveness”.
The scale of the IMLC increased with the organising of the 2nd IMLC of 2014, themed “Reshaping the Legal Profession, Reforming the Law”. This conference drew a record number of participants; and its versatile programme, which included cutting–edge fields of law, has been widely acclaimed.
In the 3rd edition of IMLC in 2016, themed “Challenges of an ASEAN Community: Rule of Law, Business, and Being People–Oriented”, we dealt with issues pertaining to the evolving legal and business environments in ASEAN, as well as issues on human rights, and key practice areas.
Today’s 4th IMLC “Raising the Bar: Innovate. Integrate. Emulate.” is the most extensive the IMLC has ever been in its history, with a vast range of topics being discussed over the next four days. It is evident that the IMLC has grown and evolved tremendously since its inception. We have in our midst over 450 participants who have traveled from as far away as China, Japan and the Republic of Korea in the East; Bangladesh, India and the Maldives in South Asia; Australia in Oceania; Fiji in the South Pacific; France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States of America in the West; and not forgetting, of course, our closest neighbours — Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Singapore. This event will present us with boundless opportunities for a dynamic exchange of thought–provoking ideas, and fostering of professional and social relationships, which we must not let slip by. I look forward to a rich and stimulating four days with all of you.
This year’s theme, “Raising the Bar: Innovate. Integrate. Emulate.” is a bold call to action that reminds us that if we are to rise in the legal sector, we must not rest on our laurels but must continuously strive to improve, to be better — to be the best that we can be. To inspire us and shine some light on our path as we forge ahead, we have lined up a remarkable cast of over 170 speakers who will impart their bountiful knowledge, rich wisdom and vast experience in numerous and wide–ranging plenary sessions.
His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin Shah
It is our deep honour and privilege to have, His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, the Sultan of Perak Darul Ridzwan, to grace us with His Royal Highness’s presence later this morning as our keynote speaker.
For the benefit of our international guests, allow me to take a stroll down memory lane and recollect that the Bar Council had the honour and privilege of having His Royal Highness’s late father, Almarhum Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah Al–Maghfur–Lah, officially open the Malaysian Law Conference on more than one occasion. Almarhum had been the head of the Judiciary as the Lord President of the Federal Court of Malaysia from 1982 to 1984, and he was the 9th Yang di Pertuan Agong of Malaysia from 1989 to 1994. Almarhum’s wisdom and love for the law was well known and we remember Almarhum with deep appreciation and affection.
New Attorney General
It is especially our great honour and privilege to have the Opening Address delivered by Yang Bahagia Tuan Tommy Thomas, the Attorney General of Malaysia. The Malaysian Bar is indeed very grateful that Tuan Tommy Thomas agreed to be deliver the Opening Address despite the recent bereavement in his family having lost his beloved mother just last Saturday. On behalf of the Malaysian Bar, I wish to convey our sincere condolences to Tuan Tommy Thomas and his family.
Ladies & gentleman,
The Attorney General, up until his appointment three months ago, was a member of the Malaysian Bar for 42 years.
Tuan Tommy Thomas,
I imagine that your presence here at IMLC today must feel like a homecoming for you, and I am sure you feel more than comfortable and in your element, among the hundreds of lawyers in this hall.
The Malaysian Bar is indeed proud that you are the first practising lawyer to be appointed directly from the Malaysian Bar to be the Attorney General. Once again, we extend to you our heartiest congratulations on your appointment, we wish you all the best in this undertaking, and we assure you of our fullest support and cooperation.
Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi
For our 5th Raja Aziz Addruse Memorial Lecture, which will take place tomorrow, we are delighted to have Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Haji Shad Saleem Faruqi deliver a lecture entitled, “30th Anniversary of the 1988 Judicial crisis: Lessons about the Importance of Judicial Independence and Impartiality.” Prof Shad, as he is commonly referred to with affection and respect, has the distinction of being a Member of the Institutional Reforms Committee and Holder of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Chair at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The past three months has seen Malaysia undergo some dramatic changes. With the announcement by the Election Commission of the official results of Malaysia’s 14th General Election, which was held on 9 May 2018, a new era greeted the people of Malaysia the next morning. For the first time in the history of this nation — which gained its independence from the British in 1957 — there has been a change in regime in the federal government and several state governments. This momentous and unprecedented result was a clear tribute to the people of Malaysia, who had turned up in huge numbers to cast their votes despite all the many barriers set in their way by the system. As evidenced by the extensive international press coverage, the world took notice of how this humble nation has the distinction of having achieved gold standards for a peaceful transition of power from a long–dominating regime to a new government via the ballot box, without violence or bloodshed.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad — who had been the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1981 to 2003 — was sworn in as the 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia by the Yang di–Pertuan Agong on 10 May 2018. In Tun Mahathir’s subsequent press conference, he made the following pledges:
“We promise to set up a good government. The government of course will be based on the Constitution and the law of this country. We are particularly keen to ensure that the Constitution is upheld. The laws of the country are what will guide us through our administration.. . .We also need to abolish laws that are oppressive and unfair: the Anti–Fake News Act 2018 and the National Security Council Act 2016, which are designed to frighten people.”
These promises of law reform that represent commitments from the leader of the new Government are encouraging, as the people of Malaysia deserve — and expect — no less.
These promises of law reform and the pledges that were contained in the ruling government’s election manifesto will be discussed in our much–awaited first plenary session, entitled “100 Days: Scorecard on GE14 Promises”.
New Office Bearers of the Judiciary
In addition to the change in the Executive and the appointment of the new Attorney General, there has also been a change in the Judiciary with the appointment of the new Office Bearers, which came after the recent resignations of the former Chief Justice of the Federal Court (“Chief Justice”) and former President of the Court of Appeal.
Allow me to take this opportunity to, on behalf of the Malaysian Bar, once again welcome and congratulate YAA Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Richard Malanjum, YAA Tan Sri Datuk Wira Ahmad Haji Maarop, YAA Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim and YAA Datuk David Wong Dak Wah on their respective appointments as Chief Justice, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of Malaya and Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak. We are deeply honoured that all the office bearers have taken the time to be with us today at our 4th IMLC.
Your appointments herald a new dawn of independence for the Judiciary, which we welcome. It is vitally important that individual Judges, and the Judiciary as an institution, are independent and courageous, and impervious to any and all improper pressure, so as to uphold and honour the rule of law.
The Malaysian Bar looks forward to working with all of you in your new capacities, and to cultivating a stronger and more effective relationship with the Judiciary based on mutual respect and with due regard of each other’s role in the administration of justice in Malaysia.
Ministry of Law and Law Commission
With the change in the Executive, consequentially, there have been changes in government policy on various matters, which in turn have had an effect on issues of the rule of law.
The Malaysian Bar welcomes the announcement last month by Datuk Liew Vui Keong, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of law, to establish an independent, stand–alone Ministry of Law, as well as a Law Commission, to facilitate and carry out law reforms that are necessary, including the review and/or repeal of regressive or draconian laws.
The Malaysian Bar views the establishment of an independent and stand–alone Ministry of Law as a vital step towards fulfilling the electoral promises of the Government, particularly in respect of strengthening the institutions of state.
As is the practice in other jurisdictions, a full–fledged Ministry of Law would function autonomously and be dedicated to the development of the legal sector.
We also fully support the creation of an independent Law Commission to conduct thorough research and consultation, with the aim of reviewing existing legislation and recommending areas for reform, and to promote and strengthen the rule of law. A Law Commission that is separate and autonomous in both structure and function, and which encourages participation from relevant stakeholders, including the public, promotes much–needed and healthy discourse, and the development of sound laws and legal policies.
Raising the Bar
As we urge the Government of Malaysia to raise its bar in upholding the rule of law, so too must we strive to raise our expectations of ourselves as law practitioners.
The IMLC provides an excellent opportunity for us to further develop ourselves and the legal profession, for the topics that we will discuss over the next four days cover the length and breadth of the law, technical matters and societal issues. They range from artificial intelligence to cyber risk, from the future of lawyering evolving law firm structures, and much more!
As we sharpen our minds in furtherance of our legal careers, the legal sector, the rule of law and the administration of justice, let us at all times be mindful of our societal role as lawyers. Because of our unique skills and knowledge as lawyers, society looks to us to act as technical experts, wise counselors and effective leaders. It is a position of privilege that we must honour by discharging our duty in abidance of professional ethics.
On behalf of the Malaysian Bar and the Bar Council, I extend my deep thanks and appreciation to:
(1) Steven Thiru and Karen Cheah Yee Lynn, Co–Chairpersons of the IMLC 2018 Organising Committee. It is their leadership and the efforts of the all members of the Organising Committee that has made IMLC 2018 a reality, and brought us all together today;I would also like to say a big thank you to:(2) The team at the Bar Council Secretariat, ably led by Rajen Devaraj, our Chief Executive Officer; and(3) The many volunteers who have generously offered us their time and energy for today and the next three days.(4) I wish to also acknowledge the generous contributions of all our sponsors and supporters. A special mention goes to the Asian International Arbitration Centre (“AIAC”), our Gold Sponsor for the fourth consecutive IMLC!
Finally, but in no way least, to all who are a part of IMLC 2018, I thank you for your involvement, and wish you all a productive and memorable conference!
14 August 2018
Keynote Address by His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, Sultan of Perak Darul Ridzuan, at IMLC 2018 (14 Aug 2018)