Sunday, June 17, 2007

Desperately seeking Dad

The Sunday Star

Birthday joy: Sue Yong celebrating his 80th birthday with his wife Swee Mei (on his left), children and grandchildren.
While most fathers will be spending quality time with their children on Father’s Day, there is a minority who will be looking for their children who have gone missing, and there will also be children looking for their fathers. Sunday Star speaks to some of these people who still hope to find their loved ones.

IT has been seven years since Tan Sue Yong went missing but his grandson Joel Tan still has hopes of seeing him again. Sue Yong, who was 83 and suffering from dementia, left his home in Yong Peng, Johor, for his daily morning walk never to return.

“We pray to God that he would one day bring him back alive. And we are still clinging on to that continually fading hope,” said the 15-year-old, who added that his grandfather was a good cook, among other things.

Joel still remembers the day his grandfather went missing.

“Although I was a young boy then, I could feel the tension in my family. I could see the agony on my parents’ faces as they went around looking for him, going around and around the same route that my granddad used to take when he visited his rubber estate,” said Joel.

The strong feelings for Sue Yong still exist, and every year on the date of his disappearance (May 23), special prayers for his well-being are held.

“Even now, tears still trickle down our cheeks whenever we think of him because we know that we have lost a great man in our family,” said Joel.

According to Joel, his grandfather cared very much for him and his siblings.

“Whenever my dad scolded or wanted to cane my siblings and me when we were younger, we could always count on him to help us out. We would always hide behind him for we knew that he would be there to protect and defend us,” said Joel.

Joel’s father, Roger Tan, 45, believes his father has passed on but he has not completely given up on finding him.

“Unless he is being taken care of, he must have passed on. I still carry the hope that he is alive. Even if he is dead, I hope that we can find him and give him a decent burial,” he said.

Information about Sue Yong is available on

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Law conference to tackle hot issues

by Beh Lih Yi

In recent times, issues and debates concerning the freedom of religion have been dominating the conversations of businessmen and politicians as well as your local hawkers and taxi drivers.

The name Lina Joy is no more foreign to the lips of Malaysians. Apostasy is no longer a distant issue concerning non-Muslims.

People are asking where the line starts between the Federal Court and ends at the Syariah Courts. The grey area of freedom of religion in Malaysia, a multi-racial, multi-religious country is now in contention.

And this debate looks set to continue at the forthcoming Malaysian Law Conference to be held from Oct 29 -31.

“There will be a session on freedom of religion where a few distinguished speakers will speak about the recent Lina Joy case”, said Roger Tan, chairperson of the organising committee for the conference.

The conference will devote its second day to issues on constitutional law and how the constitution has developed since Malaysia’s independence.

Other topics to be deliberated include trade and globalisation, Islamic commercial law, Orang Asli and the Constitution, freedom of the arts and gender issues.

Tan added that the topics at the forum were aimed at examining the development of the laws after 50 years of independence.

They will also reflect Malaysia’s achievements, raising present isses and challenges, and generating discussion of the way forward in the next 50 years.

The conference aims to attract 1,000 delegates this year, up from the usual 500 delegates.

Rare honour

A major attraction of this year’s conference is the opening address by the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah and the keynote address by the Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi .

Sultan Azlan Shah’s speech entitled ’50 years of Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law’ will reflect the conference’s theme of ’50 years of Merdeka’.

“This is a rare honour to have the Sultan and Prime Minister deliver the opening and keynote addresses. It is a great opportunity for members of the bar to turn up in full force,” said Tan.

The conference will also feature speakers from the Malaysian Bar, judiciary, Attorney-General’s Chambers, Judicial and Legal Services, corporate sectors, local universities, NGOs and foreign Bar associations.

The conference will be held on Oct 29 to 31 October at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Proposed move to curb fraud

The Star

Bar Council seeks to tighten rules on handling of clients’ money

KUALA LUMPUR: Under a proposed move to tighten the rules governing handling of clients' accounts, lawyers may soon find it hard to withdraw money from these accounts.

The Bar Council's conveyancing practice committee chairman Roger Tan said the move was aimed at curbing incidences of fraud.

He said his committee was working with the Legal Profession Committee to propose amendments to the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1990, which were drawn up under the Legal Profession Act 1976.

Among the changes being looked at include:

· PROHIBITING lawyers from issuing cash or bearer cheques or drawing money from their clients’ accounts via ATMs or online banking services;

· REQUIRING lawyers to issue only account payee cheques;

· INTRODUCING a two-signatory rule for withdrawals from the clients’ account if it exceeds a certain limit;

· WHETHER a sole proprietor is required to hire a bookkeeper to comply with the two-signatory rule; and

· ONLY a partner of a firm may sign a cheque to withdraw money from the clients’ account.

Tan said the Bar Council was always conscious of its responsibility to protect the public against errant lawyers and the maintenance of public confidence in the lawyers who hold their clients’ money as stakeholders or trustees.

Among the situations where lawyers hold clients' money as stakeholders are when property purchasers pay the balance amount for the property they are purchasing to the lawyer to enable their loans to be released, and when lawyers collect the 10% deposit from clients when the sale and purchase agreement is signed.

The House Buyers Association lauded the move as it came in the wake of reports that more than 100 lawyers were wanted by police regarding investigations into criminal breach of trust cases.

The association's secretary-general, Chang Kim Loong, said the proposed changes were good as they made the whole process a lot more transparent.

Chang said it was also necessary to ensure that if two partners in a firm with multiple partners colluded to cheat, the firm had to be held responsible.

He added that ensuring young lawyers were educated in managerial and accounting practices would also curb instances of cheating.

Law conference to examine 50 years of independence

The Star

PETALING JAYA: A biennial law conference will be organised by the Bar Council in October which will discuss topics including constitutional law, trade and globalisation and Islamic commercial law.

In a statement last Saturday, its organising committee chairman Roger Tan said that the 14th Biennial Malaysian Law Conference would be held from Oct 29 to 31 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

The Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, will open the conference and deliver the opening address 50 Years of Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law, a reflection of the conference's theme, 50 Years of Merdeka, to celebrate the country's independence, he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is scheduled to give the keynote address while Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz will close the conference.

Among the other subjects to be discussed are local government, housing and land laws, intellectual property law, the criminal justice system, gender issues and freedom of religion.

He said the forum would examine the development of the country's laws after 50 years of independence, reflect on Malaysia's achievements, raise present issues and challenges and generate discussions for the next five decades.

Papers will also be delivered by local and Commonwealth jurists such as Prof Lee Hoong Phun from Monash University, Australia, and Prof Teo Keang Sood from the National University of Singapore.

Iskandar Development Region chief executive officer Datuk Ikhmal Hijaz Hashim will also give a talk.

Conference details can be obtained from Catherine Eu and Syirin Junisya at 03-2031 3003, 03-2034 2071 or fax 03-2032 2043/2034 2825/2072 5948, or e-mail e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or log on to