Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Raja Aziz Addruse: A gentleman who believed in honesty and fair play

The Star
 by Roger Tan

THE social media was quickly overwhelmed with tributes and accolades for one of our nation's most renowned lawyers, Raja Aziz Addruse the moment news came in that he had passed away yesterday afternoon.

Ungku, as he was fondly known within the legal fraternity, was indubitably a legal luminary and a doyen of the Malaysian Bar.

His unequivocal commitment to the independence of the Bar and the independence of the judiciary - which are two essentials of the rule of law - is legendary. It is, therefore, not surprising that his departure is deeply felt by many lawyers, young and old, as Ungku could always be depended upon to speak up courageously for the Bar, and fairness and justice without fear and favour.

It is no wonder that by popular request he became the president of the Bar three times between 1976-1978, 1988-1989 and 1992-1993. He was also a member of the Bar Council intermittently for 21 years.

Born in Chemor, Perak on Feb 10, 1936, Ungku left for England in 1954 to read law at the University of Bristol.

He was called to the English Bar by the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn in 1960. He returned to Malaya the same year to join the Federal Judicial and Legal Services as a deputy public prosecutor and later a Deputy Parliamentary Draftsman.

Six years later, he resigned and entered private practice after having been admitted to the Malaysian Bar on Jan 8, 1966.

When he became the president of the Bar in March 1988, it was also one of the most tumultuous periods of the Bar with the dismissal of the then Lord President, Tun Salleh Abas and two senior judges of the Supreme Court as well as the suspension of three others.

He not only represented Tun Salleh but stuck to his principle by refusing to appear in the Supreme Court when Tun Hamid Omar was Tun Salleh's successor albeit he was a senior counsel often sought after by many for major cases at the apex court.

Though small in built, he was a giant of a man both in personality and character. He was always able to bring across his points of arguments forcefully and effectively but in a soft-spoken and courteous manner.