In legal thoughts

Read before you judge

A few months ago, the then Chief Justice of Malaysia, Tun Arifin Zakaria, expressed that people should read the judgment before commenting. He emphasised that for every decision made, judges must give their reasons for coming to that decision. In fact, he commented that judges simplify their judgments and also provide a summary of the judgment to aid the public in understanding the reasons for their decision.

To be honest, since I started the Certificate of Legal Practice, I haven’t had much time to keep abreast with the latest developments in the legal sphere. Between reading the latest judgments and studying for the exam, it is an easy decision to choose the latter over the former. Since the exams, I have had time to read judgments amidst my other leisure readings and decided to read the current judgments by the Federal Court.

Now, in the legal field (especially as students), the majority of judgments are obtained from two major portals – LexisNexis and WestLaw. However, subscription to these portals are costly and it is unrealistic to expect the public to pay the subscription to these portals. With the intent of trying to get these judgments to read like the public would, I tried to find other means to download the judgments for free instead of through these portals, since the former Chief Justice commented that the public should read the judgments before judging, it is only reasonable that these judgments be available to the public for free.

I managed to find judgments readily available to the public at no cost at I decided to read two judgments, one from the Court of Appeal (the criminal case of Syahmie bin Hassan v Public Prosecutor) as well as one from the Federal Court (the civil case of CIMB Bank Berhad v AmBank (M) Berhad & 2 Ors).
Both judgments employed clear language and easy to follow sentence construction and paragraphing. I remember the days reading judgments like the 2011 UK Supreme Court case of Jones v Kernott which I clearly remember being even more confused at the end of the judgment despite rereading numerous paragraphs again and again. For the Malaysian judgments, there is not many legal jargon and the English used is one that is simple for the public to understand. Although criminal cases might reveal some rather disturbing facts, nonetheless the legal principles in both criminal and civil cases were very well articulated, properly formulated, and easy to follow the judge’s train of thoughts and reasoning.

Before dipping my toes into the realm of law, a lot of my outlook on courts and judges with their judgments were all based on the media and what people say. I guess this too is the same with a lot of the public. I agree with the comment by the then Chief Justice Tun Ariffin Zakaria that we should read the judgments before criticising. It is not to say that we cannot disagree. My personal opinion is that as human beings, there is a myriad of factors that affect one’s decision. The development of anything, be it law or even science for that matter, stems from discussion and critique. Academics publish journal articles and subject it to peer review. A piece of art can elicit and evoke different emotions and interpretations from different people. To me, law is no different. Although generally, whatever that the Federal Court decides become binding on lower courts, it does not mean that we must always concur with their views. A good example of the Federal Court overruling its own previous decision was the case of Tan Ying Hong v Tan Sian San, which overruled the Federal Court’s decision in Adorna Properties Sdn Bhd v Boonsom Boonyanit @ Sum Yoh Eng (this was also detailed in the CIMB Bank v AmBank Berhad case above).

On another note, I’m a proponent of the law becoming understandable and available to the public. The law, be it statutes or case law, affects the public and therefore it is ridiculous (in my opinion) for them to be obscure, incomprehensible, and burdensome to understand. The Latin maxim “ignorantia juris non excusat”, which essentially means ignorance of the law is no excuse, does apply in Malaysia. We cannot go to Court and say “Oh, but I did not know that such laws exists” as a defence. Time and time again, in various courts including at the Federal Court, this has been emphasised that ignorance of the law is no defence. Therefore, with this in mind, I applaud and laud the judiciary’s move to make judgments easier to be accessed, simple to understand with legal jargons only where necessary, yet still thorough and clear with their reasoning and explanations. While thus far I’ve only read two judgments, I intend to read more in my time awaiting my results. Hopefully, the judgments will still be as accessible, simple yet clear.

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In reflections

New Phase, New Blog, New Me

It has been quite awhile since I last blogged. I remember the times when blogging was my one way I could express myself and escape from the realities of the world. But as I reluctantly tread into adulthood and maturity set in, I became aware of the importance of being a good steward of the internet and the repercussions as well as the dangers of the irresponsible use and abuse of such a privilege.

With that in mind, I decided to delete every single post (yes, every single one of them) and start afresh. My blog was in dire need of a revamp anyway.

So to begin again, let me try to encapsulate the essence of this blog with a short introduction of myself. I like to believe myself to be someone with an active mind, incessantly thinking and pondering about deep things in life (lol). I also belong to the generation that had the privilege of seeing first-hand the evolution of the internet and technology. So despite knowing things like the Walkman and living through the era where the loud modem would sing its song while connecting to the internet, I’m actually not that old (or so I choose to believe that).

Therefore, this blog is really just an extension of my mind. It is my thoughts and reflections put into written words. I enjoy interaction and always I’m always happy to see the younger generation engaging in the current affairs and really thinking and debating about the “real stuff”. Bearing this in mind, while I have the utmost respect for great minds like Lee Kuan Yew, Zaid Ibrahim, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Lim Kit Siang, Marina Mahathir and their peers, I would want my writings and musings to engage with the younger generation. Not that I intentionally write in a way that connects to them but this is just the way I normally write my blog posts and as a bonus, it has always been a small passion of mine to engage with the younger generation about these “real stuff”. Of course, older readership and engagement is encouraged and valued as well.

This blog will have a myriad of topics ranging from my personal thoughts about life to sharing my music and food recipes that I love, to reviews of books I read or food I eat. Of course, there will be quite some posts reflecting my thoughts and opinions on legal issues and developments as well as current affairs (I am after all in the legal field).

With all these in mind, we must not forget that this is at the end of the day an extension of my mind and are my personal thoughts and feelings. Therefore, these are the things that I hope my readers will always bear in mind:
  • Everything posted here are 100% merely my own opinion and under no circumstances do I and will I ever claim that what I say is the absolute truth.
  • PMA (for the uninitiated, this is the acronym for Positive Mental Attitude) - if you would like to interact with me or the readers or engage in the discussion or to give your point of view, it is mandatory that it must be positive and constructive. In other words, NO swearing, no personal attacks, no emotional breakdown or explosions, do not be rude to others, and always remember that there are different views to the same issue and no one view is the definite truth or answer. You get the drift!
Well, I do hope that you will enjoy the contents. Till then, stay cool people!

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