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Despite Occasional Threats To Us ... WE PRESERVE AND PROTECT THE CONSTITUTION ....

In his closing ceremony address at the fifth Malaysian Law Conference in Kuala Lumpur on October 27, 1979 Tun Suffian paid a tribute to the organisers and to the participants when he said: "This conference has shown that members of the profession do care about the law, about the administration of justice, about ways and means of how the system can be improved for the benefit of the public. In the course of his speech he said:

To us in the profession the law is not just our livelihood, it is our life and our passion.

We more than others are aware that the law is not an end in itself, but simply a means to an end, namely the attainment of justice, not only legal justice, but also political, economic and social justice; that man is not made for the law but that the law is made for man; that the law is a living thing that grows, that can be shaped, that should be shaped, to achieve man's needs and goals; that while it should be certain and stable it should also change and be changed to meet changed and changing circumstances.

Its is especially important in a developing country like Malaysia, where we are trying to secure a just society.

Parliament make laws, but with the best intention in the world they cannot provide for every contingency, and it is the legal profession embracing judges, practising lawyers, law teachers and lawyers working in companies, banks and the like who daily see the law in operation and its impact on the citizen, who are best qualified to advise on whether or not a law that is good in theory can actually work in practice and whether a law that once worked well in practice still does so.

The profession has a moral and social obligation to bring to the attention of the authorities and the public generally laws that do not or no longer work well in practice.

Lawyers through long years of practice write and speak well, and they are in the best position to present before the country informed comments and criticism - not to grind political axes but with a view to encouraging public debate and discussion so that those in authority might be persuaded to do something to reform and improve the law.

Our discussions have been carried out openly and frankly with controversial views expressed but in a rational and civilized way as befits members of an honourable profession.

Lawyers often conduct contentious business on behalf of their clients, and sometimes in the heat of the moment views are expressed heatedly; but only momentarily, and thereafter the spirit of camaraderie and brotherhood that binds the profession returns.

The judiciary is independent, but I sometimes envy the independence of the legal profession, for you may indulge to your heart's content in all sorts of controversial matters in a way that is not open to us judges, and in social behaviour that if indulged in by a judge will bring frowns even to the brows of members of the bar!

I would like to repeat here what I said at the morning session yesterday - that in this country the independence of the judiciary has never been in danger.

The threats directed to us come from anonymous letters and anonymous tele. phone calls to our chambers and homes, which sometimes compel the police to give us and our families round-the-clock protection for weeks and occasionally months.

We judges are secured of our independence - not for our personal benefit but to serve the public interest.

I would like to assure members of the Bar that we will use our independence to preserve, protect and defend the constitution, uphold the rule of law, to do justice impartially, fairly and justly without fear or favour; that when doing so we will show our professionalism by giving you a patient and courteous hearing.

You for your part, I know, will co-operate with the courts as you have always done - by careful preparation and research and by clear presentation of the evidence and the relevant law in your client's favour, always remembering that you also have a grave responsibility as officers of the court and members of an honourable profession. With those words of promise of continuing co-operation between Bench and Bar, the time has now come for me to close - with regret - this highly successful conference.