Moving the Call of Carmen Tham: A Tale of Two Vocations

In Malaysia, the admission to the Malaysian Bar is known as the Call to the Bar. It marks a pupil’s qualification as an Advocate & Solicitor. A member of the Bar with more than 7 years of experience will move the pupil’s Call, and to submit on behalf of the pupil as to why the pupil now qualifies to be admitted to the Bar. I can do no better than to refer to Fahri Azzat’s LoyarBurok article if you want to read more about the significance of the Mover and the Call to the Bar.

Other jurisdictions have started to move to a form of a mass Call and they do away with individual ‘submissions’ and speeches by the Mover. I think it is still a fine tradition to maintain here, despite the length of time taken. It is a delicate balance, with the increasing number of pupils being admitted to the Bar, and with judicial time being taken away.

On a personal note, I always get nervous when I have to move a pupil’s Call. Firstly, I recognise that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to get Called to the Malaysian Bar. Secondly, it is also not very often that we get a chance to publicly address and thank our loved ones, in particular to express our gratitude to our parents. With all these factors, I always get nervous in wanting to give the best speech that I can. Most times, I will try to write the speech from scratch, having had a chance to meet up with the pupil for a chat.

There was added pressure on this occasion since I was moving the call of a LoyarBurokker who is a pupil of another fellow LoyarBurokker. As the main theme of this speech, I wanted to focus on the term “vocation” since I thought it was very apt in describing Carmen’s future.


With leave My Lady,

I am Lee Shih for the Petitioner. My learned friends for the Attorney-General Chambers, the Bar Council and the Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee have been introduced earlier.

With leave My Lady, allow me to introduce the Petitioner.

The Petitioner was born on 6 November 1989. She is the eldest child of Mr Tham Kam See and Madam Chan Soo Kum. The Petitioner’s father cannot be in Court today but the Petitioner’s mother and sister are present in Court.

My Lady, the Petitioner read law at Aberystwyth University in Wales and graduated in 2010. She completed her Bar Professional Training Course at City University, London, and she was called to the English Bar at the Honourable Society of Inner Temple.

The Petitioner then completed her pupillage under my learned friend, Marcus van Geyzel, of Peter Ling & van Geyzel.

At the Petitioner’s Call to the Bar today, I think it is apt to draw our attention to the term “vocation.” Vocation is derived from the Latin word meaning “to call.” Hence, I find it very accurate to describe the legal profession as a vocation. Being members of the legal profession, we answer the call to serve others.

Now, having completed her 9-month journey as a pupil, the Petitioner is about mark her entry into this vocation of the legal profession.

In addition, the Petitioner is also about to complete another significant 9-month journey. Soon, the Petitioner will mark her entry into another vocation; the vocation of motherhood.

Both vocations will be a lifetime journey for the Petitioner. They will be filled with some challenges, but I have no doubt that both will bring her much pride and happiness.

On this day, the Petitioner would like to take this opportunity to thank the following:

1. Firstly, her parents, Mr Tham Kam See and Madam Chan Soo Kum, for having sacrificed so much for her. In my conversation with the Petitioner, the Petitioner described her father as loving but stern, and who instilled a lot of discipline in the Petitioner. Mr Tham, the sole breadwinner in the family, through his hard work provided her with the best education that she could ever ask for. Madam Chan, on the other hand, provided the whole family with delicious meals every day. A dish is never repeated, and Madam Chan would have drawers after drawers filled with recipe books. Madam Chan’s cooking would be the impetus to draw all the family members back home to have dinner together.

2. To her spouse, Mr Clinton Wong, for being her pillar of strength and for his unconditional care and love throughout Bar school and pupillage.

3. To her colleagues, former colleagues and bosses in Peter Ling & van Geyzel, particularly Li Ying and Jin for making her pupillage experience rewarding, unforgettable and fun.

4. To her pupil master, Marcus van Geyzel, who, in her words, is the coolest pupil master ever and also a very good friend who has imparted on her great knowledge and wisdom. As I have known the Petitioner’s pupil master for years now, I have no doubt that he would have bestowed some of his wealth of sartorial sense on to the Petitioner as well.

5. Finally, the Petitioner would like to thank her friends who took the time and effort to be present here today to witness this special occasion.

My Lady, I believe that the Petitioner’s papers are in order and that the relevant bodies have no objections. I humbly pray that the Petitioner be admitted and enrolled as an Advocate and Solicitor of this Honourable Court.

I seek leave from this Honourable Court for my learned friend, Marcus van Geyzel, to robe the Petitioner.



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