June Low Cheng Yen was “called” to the Bar (i.e. admitted and enrolled as an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Malaya) on Dec 11, 2009. In open court, a “call” speech would be made by June’s “mover” (i.e. a lawyer at the Bar) to persuade the presiding judge that June is a “fit and proper” person to be a full-fledged lawyer after completing a 9-month period of pupillage. This was the speech by June’s mover, Edmund Bon Tai Soon, before Mr Justice Ariff Yusof.
DALAM MAHKAMAH TINGGI MALAYA DI KUALA LUMPUR (BAHAGIAN RAYUAN & PERKARA-PERKARA PELBAGAI)
Petisyen Untuk Penerimaan Masuk Peguambela dan Peguamcara No. 18-121-09
JUNE LOW CHENG YEN …PEMPETISYEN
Dengan izin Yang Arif,
Saya, Edmund Bon Tai Soon, mewakili Pempetisyen dan rakan-rakan saya yang bijaksana Noraisha Bte Roslee, Raphael Tay dan Saha Deva Arunasalam mewakili pihak-pihak yang berkenaan – Peguam Negara Malaysia, Majlis Peguam Malaysia dan Jawatankuasa Peguam Kuala Lumpur – masing-masing.
Saya dengan hormatnya memohon izin Yang Arif untuk meneruskan ucapan saya dalam Bahasa Inggeris.
If it pleases Your Lordship, may I share some thoughts of the Petitioner, June Low Cheng Yen. She has declined to allow me to speak about herself and so I’m left with having to make certain observations of the Petitioner regarding legal practice and life upon admission to the Bar.
The Petitioner is 24 and has long questioned the purpose of a legal education and the role of a lawyer.
The Petitioner is of the view that since the law changes to suit the changing times, this would appear to support the view that humans are better off being governed by logic. But at the same time, humans are becoming more and more illogical. That in turn challenges the efficacy of the changes, as well as the law itself.
On observation, lawyers seem to move around in an all-knowing yet helpless fashion against an endless blue screen of continuing injustice. The Petitioner has often wondered why discussions with others about corruption within various sectors produce responses such as “it is common”, “it is usual”, “it is like that one-lah”. She feels that lawyers in particular should not accept this as the status quo, because if we do, then it means that the role of the lawyer is also ultimately meaningless.
Reflecting on the things she did during the course of her pupillage, the Petitioner has realised that raising awareness, empowering people, talking to others about current projects, showing support for others, and just being a nicer person all round, encourages large amounts of positive energy, and makes a huge difference.
A shining example of this is of course the MyConstitution Campaign launched in November 2009 and due to roll out its second phase on the topic of separation of powers on 15 January 2010. The Petitioner is a member of the 99-strong Constitutional Law Committee – the Committee which is leading the Campaign – and so is my learned friend, Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, who just appeared before Your Lordship.
The fact too that my learned friend, Gan Khong Aik, in his speech earlier had referred to the Campaign and encouraged his Petitioner to contribute her energy to the initiative speaks volumes about the reach of the Campaign.
I have known and worked with the Petitioner for more than 9 months now both on the Human Rights Committee (my learned friend, Saha Deva Arunasalam, is also on the Human Rights Committee) and the Constitutional Law Committee. The Petitioner is energetic, enthusiastic and has always sought to be on the side of right.
She has undertaken many interesting and useful initiatives which have contributed to society. Among others, the Petitioner was part of the S-ploited film team which produced and directed the soon-to-be cult classic on the Perak constitutional crisis titled “No Silver Lining: The Perak Crisis”. It was one of the top 3 films in the recently concluded Freedom Film Fest 2009. The Petitioner is also part of the team in the Constitutional Law Committee which produces the MyConstitution Campaign’s “Rakyat Service Advertisements”. Loving to express her thoughts on law, justice and shopping, the Petitioner has written very quirky commentaries published on the leading blawg of the country, LoyarBurok.com. Further, she has actively been assisting the Bar’s team holding a watching brief at the inquest into the death of Teoh Beng Hock.
The Petitioner has sometimes felt that the role of the lawyer should not simply be one concerned with the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge at a price to be determined, but one involving the eradication of ignorance. As humans, we are not equal, and it seems only fair that those of us who are constantly learning owe a duty to inform those not in the know, and encourage them to learn as well. Armed with knowledge, human beings will then have options.
However, this is a conflicted conclusion for the Petitioner because at other times, particularly towards the end of the year, she acknowledges the option to live in blissful ignorance.
You see, if the role of the lawyer is played out as expected by the Petitioner, then humans who choose to live in ignorance, will at least have made an informed choice.
By this time, it will also be too late for them to truly live in ignorance.
But then again, the Petitioner also wonders if humans really need to make informed decisions all the time.
Finally, the Petitioner feels that a far more effective way to convey her thanks to the people who will be mentioned in this speech would be over a special tea-time and conversation session, as she has often felt that saying “thank you” alone is insufficient to show gratitude.
Given that this is not yet available in a court of law, and taking into account her preferred method of giving thanks, the Petitioner would like to show gratitude in the following manner:
For their role in helping to reinforce the sense of social responsibility in her, the Petitioner is eternally grateful. There are too many names to mention, but many delicious pastries are owed to these individuals and will be delivered personally in due course.
The Petitioner offers the largest cookies to her parents for their consistent support and tolerance of her eccentricities over the years. To her siblings, the icing on the carrot cake, for continuing to make her laugh uncontrollably.
To the suburban family, and friends, some hot buttered scones to reflect the warmth they exude at all times. And some strudel with whipped cream to the Petitioner’s pupil master, Preetha Pillai, for putting up with her, and humouring her dreams.
(My Lord, I did not write this speech!)
We know of human rights activists, political activists, environmental activists. The Petitioner is part of a rising, new breed of young, specialised and expert “Bar activists”, ready and willing at all times to serve the Bar and give true meaning in form, action and deed to the phrase “upholding the cause of justice without fear or favour”.
It would be an honour for the Bar to have the Petitioner in our ranks.
I verily believe that the Petitioner is a fit and proper person to be admitted and enrolled as an advocate and solicitor and that all cause papers are complete and in order. I also believe that my learned friends have no objections to this Petition.
My Lord, I humbly pray that the Court admits and enrols June Low Cheng Yen as an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Malay Malaya.
I am much obliged.