After the mover I secured for the call of a pupil in chambers in our firm cancelled, Mr. Jeya Kumar a/l Vaithilingam heroically saved the day by agreeing to move her call on condition I prepared the long call speech. So this is the reproduction of the speech I had the honour of preparing on the occasion of Cik Siti Aisya Abdul Rahman’s call to the Bar before Justice Puan Hadhariah binti Syed Ismail on 23 April 2010.
Every now and then we come across someone who appears to have a natural inclination or suitability towards a particular profession. From their collection of habits, appearance, demeanour, interests and attitude, we can surmise their potential towards engineering, medicine, tele-marketing, legal practise and such. I am certain some of those called this morning may have that look of lawyerdom about them.
There are those, My Lord, and there are those like the Petitioner, Cik Siti Aisya Abdul Rahman. She differs from them because her natural inclination is not simply towards a profession but a relentless striving for a standard of achievement. And that standard is excellence.
Born on 9/5/1986 in Klang to Dato’ Abdul Rahman Othman and Datin Junaidah Amir, she is the eldest of 4 children. Her SPM results of 9A’s in 2003 promised a great deal to follow. Though medicine was her first option, she did not realize that her natural curiousity, lack of fear in asking questions and faithfulness to her values, could only lead her to the legal libraries and lectures at IIUM in 2004. Her participation in the national level Piala Perdana Menteri in 2000 and 2001 also indicated to her family that she had more lawyer than doctor about her. Doctors after all generally shy away from public speaking and are unlike lawyers, who are skilled at making people bleed without blood.
In March 2005, the Petitioner graduated from her Matriculation in Laws on the Dean’s list. In July 2006, she completed a Business & Law Exchange Semester with the Victoria University of Technology, Melbourne with distinction. In 2009, she graduated from IIUM on the Rector’s List (for coming in 3rd for her batch) with the Best Student in Civil Procedure Book Award. She was a keen mooter and debater and participated in various events the most notable being the International Round of the Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition in 2007. This is what she says about her academic period:
“[S]oon I found myself devising plans and strategies to self-nurture a profound yet sustainable love and understanding for the law and the legal profession. Throughout my tertiary education, I was selective in the programs and projects that I ventured into, immersing myself only in activities that I know I will enjoy and worth taking the risk for. … More importantly, they provided me with ample opportunities to think on my feet as I get to see the realities of the world, learn how people are facing it and apply what I gained during the whole experience so that I can make a difference in my own way.”
After she graduated, she commenced her pupilage in the chambers of Messrs. Azzat & Izzat with Puan Rose Zilawati bt. Mohd Arifin. Her Master and her other mentor in the firm, Encik Fahri Azzat, were of the view that the 2 standout qualities out of the Petitioner’s many good ones were firstly her initiative and secondly, her sense of craftsmanship with her work.
An example of her initiative had to do with her participation in the recent Eusoffe Abdoolcader Essay Competition organized by the Bar Council. This was not firm work. Encik Fahri was going to suggest she participate in it. When he got to her table, the entry form was already printed on her table. When he suggested she read ‘Plain English and the Law’ to improve her prose, she polished it off straightaway and revised her essay with her new found technique to great effect. The other thing was she would actually look for more work to do once she had finished hers. One hardly hears such attitude from pupils never mind lawyers!
An example of her craftsmanship is the way she takes pride in her work. This is a rarity these days. Pupils are only too happy to get it done and chuck it on your desk. The Petitioner however is the sort that would not be content or satisfied if her work was amended.
It is not because she is arrogant. But because she appreciates it was not good enough and hopes to try and do it better next time. It this sense of craftsmanship that is lacking from the Bar these days, a craft that speaks of a high level of integrity and confidence of her character. This is the sum of her experience in the firm:
“I learned how to strike the balance between fighting fair, standing firm, mastering the law, staying humble, and esteeming the life and the people that we all go back to after a hard day’s work.”
If that is what she has learned, she has learned much and is set to learn and accomplish much more.
The Petitioner owes her accomplishments to the mercy of Allah, and dedicates her call to the Bar to the partners in Messrs. Azzat & Izzat, her Master, Puan Rose Zilawati Mohamed Arifin, her de facto Master, Encik Fahri Azzat, her law lecturers and everybody else at the firm. She would like to thank Mama and Abah, after Allah and the Messenger, ‘Your love has been the only other condition of my absolute value.’
I believe the papers are in order. I humbly submit that the Petitioner is of excellent character and is fit and proper person to be called and admitted to the rolls of the High Court as an advocate and solicitor. I pray for order in terms.
Postscript: When I prepared the speech initially, I was quite happy for Jeya (thanks again buddy) to take credit for the speech, and so not publish it. However, not wishing to take credit when none was due Jeya, after introducing the Petitioner and himself, immediately disclosed to the Judge that I prepared the speech. So I have taken the liberty of reproducing it.