On 14 January 2022, AmerBON’s Pupil-in-Chambers, Ms Lee Yee Woei, was called to the Bar via conference call with the Kuala Lumpur High Court before YA Dato’ Ahmad Kamal bin Md Shahid. We thank Mr Fahri Azzat for moving Yee Woei’s call.
Fahri’s speech is reproduced below:
Dengan izin Yang Arif, saya Fahri Azzat bagi Pempetisyen Ke-5, Lee Yee Woei. Rakan-rakan bijaksana saya pun telah diperkenalkan tadi.
Yang Arif, saya pohon izin untuk berterusan dalam Bahasa Inggeris.
May it please you, my Lord, the Petitioner Lee Yee Woei is the youngest of Mr Lee Seew Lim and Madam Foo Yoke Lin, of three children and all of whom heil from Penang. My Lord, section 11(1B) of the Legal Profession Act 1976 requires a person called to the bar to possess good character. And My Lord, if there is no submission about good character disclosed in the whole speech, My Lord is actually entitled to dismiss the petition.
So, My Lord, I will start with the definition of “character”. My Lord, the Collin’s dictionary defines “character” as “the combination of traits and qualities distinguishing the individual nature of a person or thing”. My Lord, good character is a combination of qualities that preserves our goodness and enables us to do good, to and for others, My Lord. And good character does not exist in a vacuum but manifest in our interaction with others and situation.
Now My Lord, where budding lawyers are concerned, I have a rule of thumb, and the presence of seven qualities, for me, would be the indication of good character for the practice of law and life – and I call it the five “I”s, “E”, “R”, My Lord. The five “I”s are integrity, intelligence, independence, industry, initiative, with “E” for empathy and “R” for reasonableness, My Lord. So long I say, as a budding lawyer has some of these qualities in some measure My Lord, and constantly seeks to increase them, they would be a boom, if not an ornament to our legal profession. And with that My Lord, it is gratifying for me to submit that the Petitioner possesses good character, and is a fit and proper person to be called to the bar.
My Lord, with respect to her intelligence, we can infer that from her long unbroken track record since her UPSR days — 7As in UPSR, 8As for PMR, 10As for SPM; winning a scholarship to Taylor’s College Sri Hartamas for her A-levels; picking up her Bachelor of Law in HELP University with a scholarship from Cardiff University where she twinned — it was for achieving the best result for students transferring from HELP to Cardiff University. My Lord, in her second university, she picked up another scholarship award from Cardiff as well, for performing exceptionally well in her second-year exams. My Lord, she graduated then with a strong Second Upper, and went on to complete her Bar Professional Training Course as well at Cardiff University and scoring a Very Competent grade.
My Lord, I never achieve those things — many As and the sort. I always gave other alphabets a chance to appear on my report card; never won a scholarship; never came up top in anything, and yet I am told on the rare occasion, My Lord, that I am somehow intelligent. So, with that My Lord, I feel certain that the Petitioner would have no issue having her intelligence acknowledged.
My Lord, on the Petitioner’s industry and initiative, this is not only evident from her studies, but it also shines through in her extra-curricular activities. She was active in her sporting competitions, regularly competing in marching competitions in high school — which was Penang Chinese Girls’ High School in Penang. She was a regular attendant of public speaking competitions, often competing in her high school poetry recital competitions. But My Lord, it was in respect of her debating competitions, My Lord, that set her on her journey to the gate of legal practice.
My Lord, she says this, “Preparing for debates sparked my joy”, and she had a strong fondness for everything debates could provide. She described to me how she devoted herself to the process. My Lord, this is what she says, “During the peak-period, in usually April to July each year, I would spend every single day and night sitting before my laptop doing research, drafting speeches, editing and re-editing arguments. My seat in the classroom on most days remained cold, as I would be away in the school’s meeting room preparing and practicing with my teammates
instead of attending class”. But that didn’t stop her from scoring all those As, My Lord.
My good friend, Amer Hamzah, who is also her Master, confirmed her qualities for me earlier today. And he says, “She is a diligent and intelligent pupil”. So, My Lord, I would urge My Lord to accept my learned friend’s finding of fact on this matter even though it may amount to hearsay. Encik Amer also told me, “She accepts my constructive criticisms gracefully. With further guidance, she will definitely be an excellent lawyer. I have no hesitation in having her as my second chair”. My Lord, that Amer speaks so well of her means she has independence. You are not going to sit next to Amer if you need to be babysat. And in fact, if you need babysitting the law really isn’t for you.
And my Lord, I also contend the Petitioner is reasonable and mature in her outlook. When asked what her top three lessons from pupillage were, she said first, “accept the situation as it is instead of what it should be”. She says, My Lord, “I came to realise the need to accept what happens and what it is. I can neither control the events nor remove the speed bumps, but I can control how I react to it. Instead of letting those speed bumps floor me, I can build on them”.
My Lord, the second lesson was “to accept my role as my seniors’ assistant and be responsible”. She says, “I shall not take any work lightly and shall play my role well as an assistant to reduce the weight on the seniors’ shoulders. I should be helpful in ways that I could, so that instead of wasting time on correcting my mistakes, the seniors could spend them on crafting better arguments”. And My Lord, finally she says, “one has to learn to be organised and prioritised”. So all these are excellent lessons My Lord, that exemplifies the Petitioner’s humility, professionalism, and dedication.
My Lord, the other thing I wish to point out is the Petitioner sees the world and her client through an empathetic lens. Although she is mindful that as lawyers we earn a living from practice, she appreciates that, to quote her, “Seeking legal service may be the only recourse to the resolution to some predicaments. Understanding the client’s points of view and therefore taking into consideration their thoughts while framing our arguments would at least give the clients the assurance they are seeking”. And My Lord, the Petitioner’s mindfulness of the clients’ psychology and emotional needs are salutary, and an excellent reminder to seniors like me, My Lord. Although we work on a case, sometimes My Lord, I will confess sometimes we do forget there is a human face behind them, and it is not just all papers and words, My Lord.
Now, My Lord, I will end with the Petitioner’s integrity. And for that, My Lord, she quoted for me a passage from Marcus Aurelius which she says she calls upon in difficult moments. And as somebody partial to Stoic philosophy himself, I think the passage she chose is what integrity is about. And if I may, it goes, “You need to avoid certain things in your train of thought: everything random, everything irrelevant. And certainly everything self-important or malicious. You need to get used to winnowing your thoughts, so that if someone says, “What are you thinking about?”, you can respond at once and truthfully that you are thinking this or that. And it would be obvious from your answer that your thoughts were straightforward and considerate ones — the thoughts of an unselfish person, one unconcerned with pleasure and with sensual indulgence generally, with squabbling, with slander and envy, or anything else you will be ashamed to be caught thinking”.
For these reasons, My Lord, I humbly submit the Petitioner possesses the requisite good character to be a fit and proper person to be called to the Malaysian Bar.
My Lord, in closing, the Petitioner would like to thank firstly, her family for loving and supporting her unconditionally and having faith in everything she pursued. Secondly, My Lord, her boyfriend, Joo Yoong, for caring and understanding and being patient with her through thick and thin these last five years. Thirdly, My Lord, her friends for having her back, checking in on her and encouraging her every step of the way. And finally, My Lord, Encik Amer Hamzah, Mr Edmund Bon, Sin Yew, Joshua, and everybody at AmerBON, Advocates for their mentorship and guidance, My Lord.
My Lord, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Petitioner on being retained with AmerBON, Advocates. That is enough endorsement that she is ready for the bar and practice, My Lord. I believe her cause papers are in order. I believe my learned friends would have no objection to the petition. I therefore pray, My Lord, for the Petitioner, Lee Yee Woei, to be admitted and enrolled as an Advocate and Solicitor in the High Court of Malaya.