DECEMBER 23 — Dengan izin Yang Arif,
Saya, Christopher Leong hadir bagi pihak Pempetisyen, Abdul Gani Patail.
Rakan-rakan yang bijaksana saya Rozielawaty Ab Ghani mewakili pihak Peguam Negara Malaysia, Hendon Mohamed, 20th President of Malaysia Bar, mewakili pihak Majlis Peguam Malaysia dan Lim Chee Wee, 29th President of Malaysian Bar, mewakili pihak Jawatankuasa Peguam Kuala Lumpur.
Yang Arif, saya dengan rendah diri memohon kebenaran untuk berhujah berkenaan Pempetisyen dalam Bahasa Inggeris.
As the days count down towards the end of what has been a challenging year for some of us and as the sun sets on 2016, we may look back to a few momentous or memorable events. I would include this morning’s proceedings as one of them.
It is my pleasure to rise this morning to move this petition for call to the Bar of my friend Abdul Gani Patail. As is the etiquette and long standing convention, we stand before the court shorn of titles, honourific and adornments save for the sombre attire reflective of the formal business at hand.
The Petitioner is no stranger to most of us. He has been a member of the legal fraternity in another life in another guise, in a manner of speaking. I will have more to say on this and will come back to it shortly.
Please permit me to present the Petitioner as a fit and proper person for admission and enrolment by saying a few words on his background.
The Petitioner was born on 6th October 1955 and hails from Lahad Datu, Sabah. His is married to the lovely Maimon Arif, and they are blessed with a daughter — Ra Delina Patail, son — Faezul Adzra Patail and four grand children — Aedan, Ziva, Dian and Juwita.
The Petitioner read law at University Malaya and graduated with a Bachelors of Law in 1979 and was also conferred by the University of Nottingham, my alma-mater, with a Doctors of Laws (Honouris Causa) in 2006.
The Petitioner was enrolled and admitted as an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak in Sabah in 1998.
The Petitioner had a long and illustrious career as a legal officer in the Attorney General’s Chambers wherein he served in the following roles:
From 1980 until 1994 — as a Deputy Public Prosecutor based in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah;
From 1994 to 1995 — as the Head of the Prosecution Division;
From 1995 to 1997 as the Head of the Advisery and International Division;
From 1997 to 2000 as the Commissioner of Law Revision;
From 2000 to 2001 taking a second tour of duty as the Head of Prosecution; and
From 2002 until 2015 as the Attorney General of Malaysia.
The Petitioner has therefore been the Attorney General for a good 13 years, with Abu Talib (1980-1993) tying that record, and surpassed in time served only by the first Attorney General of Malaysia, the late Abdul Kadir Yusuf who served for 14 years from 1963 to 1977.
As the Attorney General of Malaysia, the Petitioner was the principle legal adviser to the Government, the Public Prosecutor and effectively the head of the largest ‘law firm’ in the country. Suffice to say that he has advised the Government on innumerable matters, had undertaken and conducted numerous civil and criminal cases, and has dealt with a wide breadth of complex legal matters in both the domestic and international arenas throughout his years in service.
On a personal note, I first came to know the Petitioner many years ago in the 1990’s when he was serving as the Head of the Prosecution Division. We were introduced by a mutual good friend, the late Vong Poh Fah, who served in the Attorney General’s Chambers, and who later became my partner in the law firm in which I practise. We played golf together, badly at that, except for Vong Poh Fah who was a consummate sportsman. Thereafter, we spent time talking about going fishing in Sabah, with promises being made of a good time. I have yet to call on that promise but will do so shortly.
On a professional note, I had the opportunity to work with the Petitioner when he was the Attorney General and during my tenure as the President of the Malaysian Bar. What I can say in a nutshell, and in fairly polite language, is that the Petitioner was a ‘nutcracker’. It may come as a surprise for some to hear that the Petitioner could at times come across as hard as nails, aggressive, gruff, and a tough negotiator.
In reality, he was a consummate professional in his undertakings and in our dealings. In doing so, he can be firm, demanding and a hard counterparty with a no nonsense approach. We at times disagreed, argued, took hard opposing positions but always in mutual recognition of our respective roles and duties. When we disagreed, it was never personal always professional. On other times, we could find common ground and were collaborative in the furtherance of the administration of justice. We were adversaries and at the same time comrades in law.
From our interaction, I have come to know the ‘nutcracker’ to be a veneer. Underneath that veneer the Petitioner is human and humane, and a warm heart beats. I recall three examples.
On two different occasions, I had received calls late in the afternoon informing me that 2 death roll inmates were scheduled to be executed in the early morning the next day. I called the Petitioner on his mobile phone and asked for a stay of the executions. The Petitioner took it upon himself to act and had on the one occasion managed to convince the Sultan, and on the other occasion the Yang Di Pertuan Agong, to grant a stay warrant at the eleventh hour.
The Petitioner was the chairman of Yayasan Bantuan Guaman Kebangsaan, or YBGK for short. He took a personal interest in ensuring the success of YBGK. Prior to the launch of YBGK in 2012, more than 80per cent of impecunious persons charged in the criminal courts went unrepresented. Within a short period of time, YBGK in collaboration with the Malaysian Bar reversed those figures with 80per cent of such persons having access to legal advice and representation.
In the last few years, the Attorney General’s Chambers, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency and the Bar had several collaborations with regards to anti-corruption events or matters in Malaysia.
The Petitioner was a tireless, conscientious and diligent Attorney General. He clocked long hours each day. I recall that even when he was undergoing dialysis treatment at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital, he would conduct meetings in the hospital, and thereafter rush off to his office or to some other meeting. At other times, I would arrive at his office in Putrajaya and see a line of people waiting to see him.
I recall asking the Petitioner during a meeting with him at the hospital as to how he could maintain his pace of work. He cheekily pointed to the dialysis machine and said that it was a re-charging machine. He offered that I should try it. I politely declined.
This is the measure of the man. It was a pleasure for me to have worked with the Petitioner.
It was therefore news to some, a surprise to others and shock even to the more dramatic among us when it was reported that the Petitioner was no longer the Attorney General due to health reasons as at 27th July 2015. That however did not deter or slow the Petitioner down. He shortly thereafter turned a page and started a new phase. He filed his petition herein and commenced his pupillage under Ragunath Kesavan, the 28th President of the Malaysian Bar.
On this memorable day, the Petitioner would like to take this opportunity to record his gratitude to his former colleagues and friends at the Attorney General’s Chambers, Judiciary and the Bar.
Under the watchful eye of his master, Ragunath Kesavan, the Petitioner is ready to be called to the Bar in Malaya. The Petitioner appears this morning before this Honourable Court in a different capacity from which the Petitioner was accustomed to during the course of his long years in service. Although the event on 27th July 2015 was a blow for the country, the principles of good governance and accountability, and for the pursuit of truth and justice, there is a silver lining to that cloud. The Petitioner is seeking to remain a member of the legal fraternity. He is doing so by changing his standing and moving to the honourable profession at the Bar. In the words of Winston Churchill:-
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
The Petitioner will find that the fraternity and sorority at the Bar will not forsake him, indeed will stand by him so long as the Petitioner subscribes to the principles, duties and ethos as encapsulated in s.42(1) of the Legal Profession Act, 1976.
I verily believe that the Petitioner is not only a fit and proper person to be admitted and enrolled as an Advocate and Solicitor of this Honourable Court; he is also sufficiently physically fit and healthy. I believe the Petitioner’s papers are in order and that there are no objections from the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Bar Council and the Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee.
With that, I respectfully pray for Your humble Petitioner, Abdul Gani Patail, be admitted and enrolled as an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya.
[Judge grants order in terms]
I am much obliged. My Lord, the Petitioner’s Pupil Master, Ragunath Kesavan is present and I seek leave for him to robe the Petitioner.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.