Remember, Review & Reclaim: Are You A Constitutional Patriot?

Perak: A State Of Crisis poster

LoyarBurok kicks off its first-ever on-the-ground event with the launch (by Nizar Jamaluddin) of “Perak: A State of Crisis” on 12 December 2010, 4pm. Meet the protagonists (politicians, contributors, writers and lawyers[LB]) at the LoyarBurokking session. 4 more days, more than 96 hours left and counting – do join us!

I was humbled and honoured to be part of the team of counsel in the Perak Crisis cases. Working alongside colleagues in law from a wide spectrum of ethnicity, creed and ideology was an exhilarating experience.

Some of my recollections in the course of the litigation follows.

1) In our advocacy on behalf of the client we undertook careful and extensive analysis of case precedent and juristic writings.

2) We were undaunted about being criticised in several political blogs that attempted to paint us as be anti-Government. Clearly such attacks tell us more about the issuer of the attack than the seriousness of the point made as it fails to distinguish the role of an Advocate in fearlessly advancing the cause of the client on legal arguments from political posturing.

3) On one social occasion where I was invited by a certain State Ruler, a Tan Sri accosted me as to why I am present since I am one of the “enemies”. I explained that far from it; we are friends of the monarch. No monarch in a modern constitutional State will want to rule outside the rule of law. I also asked whether the distinguished personage would have preferred that the contestation be settled by street demonstrations rather that civil, deliberative rhetoric in the courts. The gentleman beat a hasty retreat from the discussion.

So in my reflections I would say that as citizen of this beloved nation and as members of the Bar, we must be “Constitutional Patriots”.

The idea of constitutional patriotism “designates the idea that political attachment ought to center on the norms, values and … procedures of a liberal democratic constitution” [Jan-Werner Muller, Constitutional Patriotism, Princeton University Press (2007)].

This involves critical, constructive citizenry, and it is a continuous struggle to remind and re-imagine that our political system will adhere to the substance and strength of the Merdeka cry of a sovereign people.

This is the promise and peril of being a Constitutional Patriot that far be it that patriotism is the refuge of scoundrels it is the sign and service of a passionate citizenry.

Philip is a senior partner in a KL-based law firm and has published extensively on a myriad of matters ranging from corporate governance to constitutionalism. He sits on various boards, bodies and spacecrafts but prefers to be considered a public intellectual; and so he associates himself with LoyarBurok. That’s why he writes in the way only an intellectual does, see the post you just read.

[LB] Collectively, members of the legal team who acted in various cases and capacities for Nizar and Sivakumar throughout the Perak Crisis were: Sulaiman b. Abdullah, Tommy Thomas, Nga Hock Cheh, Philip Koh Tong Ngee, Ambiga Sreenevasan, Chan Kok Keong, Mohamad Asri b. Othman, Ranjit Singh s/o Harbinder Singh, Razlan Hadri b. Zulkifli, Mohamed Hanipa bin Maidin, Augustine a/l Anthony, Leong Cheok Keng, Mohammad Yunus bin Mohd @ Ahmad Ali, Edmund Bon Tai Soon, Yap Boon Hau, Amer Hamzah Arshad, Mahaletchumi Balakrishnan, Zulqarnain bin Lukman, Cheong Sek Kwan, Joanne Leong Pooi Yaen, Jason Tay Yew Chong, Grace Wong Phui Mun, Abigail Lim Ern Tze and Ngoi Evon.

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Posts by Philip Koh

Malaysian lawyer Philip Koh is actually a corporate commercial lawyer who is an interloper into the public law sphere. He co-edited Sheridan & Groves’ The Constitution Of Malaya (5th Edition) and has been involved in a number of landmark public and constitutional cases. Philip is a senior partner in a Klang Valley based firm. In previous incarnations he was in academia and worked for a listed corporation. He has published on a myriad of matters ranging from corporate governance, constitutionalism, book and movie reviews. He sits on various boards, bodies and spacecraft but prefers to read, write and give talks whilst trying to remain sane.

Posted on 8 December 2010. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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