50 years on, returning to my university

by Tunku Aziz
The Malaysian Insider
Aug 19, 2011

AUG 19 — I have just returned from a pilgrimage of sorts to my old stamping ground, Hobart, Tasmania where I went to university. It was exactly 49 years ago that I arrived to take up residence at Hytten Hall.

This recent visit was made in response to an invitation by the Chancellor of the University of Tasmania to accept the degree of Doctor of Laws (h.c) in recognition of “your long-standing campaign to promote transparency and integrity in government and business…”

It was a humbling experience that my own university had seen fit to honour me in this way for my small contribution to the fight against corruption inside my country as well as in the wider world. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I was told some months ago that the Council of the University of Tasmania had decided to admit me to the degree of LL.D honoris causa.

In my Occasional Address I told the assembled audience of academic luminaries, high officers, graduates, diplomats and parents that if anyone had suggested to me when I was a student all those years ago that one day I would be conferred such an honour, I would have told them that I did not believe in miracles “but as you can see, I do now.”

By a happy coincidence, the students at this conferral ceremony were drawn from the faculties of law and business, many of whom were foreign students. I spoke to them about integrity in personal life, and by extension, national life. Addressing them as future chief justices, high court and appeal court judges, attorneys-general, corporate lawyers, and other high-flying legal eagles and business tycoons, I reminded them that “there is no substitute for personal integrity. Also remember that integrity is about doing what is demonstrably right when no one is watching you. So many reputations have been ruined because so many people have chosen to ignore a fundamental rule of integrity.”

The day before the conferral ceremony, a reception was held for overseas students and their parents. I was invited to address the students from various parts of the world, including sizeable numbers from Malaysia. I told them what the university meant to me beyond acquiring a degree. It offered an opportunity to live and work among Australians, to make friends and be a part of the university in the real sense of the word.

I hoped they had not spent their years overseas living in their own little communes. If they had not made some Australian friends and got to know some local families they had really wasted their time. To the Malaysians I said their journey had not ended with their degree; the journey would be long and arduous. It was good to see their bright-eyed enthusiasm.

I only hope that we will treat our non-Bumi young men and women without discrimination on their return. Discrimination should be made a criminal offence. They have an absolute right to equal opportunity; the Constitution guarantees that.

The Chancellor, Damian Bugg AM, QC, is an eminent and distinguished member of the Australian Bar and has served as the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. At a special Chancellor’s Dinner which he gave, I had the opportunity to ask him about the role of the Attorney-General and that of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions functions independently of the government. Although the ultimate authority to prosecute lies with the A-G, but because his is a political post, and it is preferable to have a non-politician carry out this function, the A-G’s prosecution powers are normally delegated to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Bugg, who occupied this office from 1997-2007, has written and spoken extensively on the role of the independent prosecutor and the rule of law.

The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is an indispensable feature of the justice systems in many democratic societies, and its introduction is long overdue as far as our country is concerned. For the rule of law to take root in Malaysia, we must work towards embedding a system of justice free of political interference so as to generate public confidence in our prosecution service.

  1. #1 by loveandgratitude on Friday, 19 August 2011 - 9:21 am

    Syabas Tunku AZIZ!

    Keep up the ‘Good Fight’ for Justice, Equality,Peace, Progress n Democracy for ALL Msians.

  2. #2 by Cinapek on Friday, 19 August 2011 - 11:24 am

    Dear Tunku,

    Congratulations on the honour bestowed upon you by your alma mater. It is a fitting honour on the huge contributions you have made to society.

    I do not for a moment think our ruling Govt is unaware of the need to have a structure of an independent prosecution office. We have more than enough qualified legal minds in this country to point this out to the Judiciary and the Govt. That it has not happened is simply because the Judiciary, as an independent institution, has been irreparably destroyed by TDM and has rendered it today to be just another tool of the Executive. Any semblance of independence is only superficial and the bottom line is the Judiciary is beholden to the Executive and takes its cue from them.

    If the Executive has any sincere intentions to ensure the independence of the Judiciary they must not only practise it but must also be seen to practise it. Fast tracking a UMNO lawyer to the CJ position over public objections is anything but.

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Friday, 19 August 2011 - 12:16 pm

    What abt our Nazi n AG, got LL.D honoris causa fr their respective alma maters?

  4. #4 by Loh on Friday, 19 August 2011 - 5:19 pm

    ///I only hope that we will treat our non-Bumi young men and women without discrimination on their return. Discrimination should be made a criminal offence. They have an absolute right to equal opportunity; the Constitution guarantees that.///– Tunku Aziz

    You have spoken for all Malaysians who care about the health of the nation. Muhyiddin would not agree to it, and so too are UMNO leaders. That is why UMNO should be voted out of power in the coming general election.

  5. #5 by Kedahan-Malaysian in Japan on Sunday, 21 August 2011 - 12:35 pm

    Congratulations, Tunku… You have done us proud!

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