Tribute to ‘legal lion’ Sir Eusoffe Abdoolcader

August 12, 2018

Tribute to ‘legal lion’ Sir Eusoffe Abdoolcader

British High Commissioner Vicki Treadell describes the late judge Eusoffe Abdoolcader as an individual the country should be incredibly proud of.

Image result for Eusoffe Abdoolcader

KUALA LUMPUR: British High Commissioner Vicki Treadell has hailed the late Eusoffe Abdoolcader, one of the senior judges suspended during the 1988 judicial crisis, as a man of integrity and said he was held in high regard not only in Malaysia but also internationally.

Image result for Vicki Treadell at Kinokuniya Kuala Lumpur

British High Commissioner Vicki Treadell at Kinokuniya, Kuala Lumpur

She said Eusoffe, who died in 1996, was a witty and wise man. “Integrity, wisdom, humour, passion, romance are the words I came up with (to describe Eusoffe),” Treadell said at an event to pay tribute to the late judge at Kinokuniya Book Store’s Merdeka month celebration.

Eusoffe was lauded as “The Legal Lion of the Commonwealth”, first coined by The Times of London. The “The Legal Lion of the Commonwealth: Judgments” book is the first in a series to revive the history of a man who has been called “Malaysia’s greatest judge”.

Image result for Eusoffe Abdoolcader

Malaysians, Treadell said, should be “so incredibly proud” of Eusoffe as his judgments were also respected by the international legal community.”

As a jurist, Eusoffe – who graduated with First Class Honours from University of London – was “second to none” and his laser-like intellect and photographic memory would often put someone on the spot.

Treadell also pointed out that Eusoffe was the first Malayan to be given the Keys to the City of London in 1950. “I can assure you not everyone is given the Keys to the City of London. He must have stood out.”

Treadell went on to talk about how Eusoffe was a courageous man who was prepared to stand up to the government of the day or to senior figures in the government.

“If he felt the government had strayed beyond their constitutional place, he was not afraid of doing so and pointing out that actually, they were breaching the constitution and the law.”

Image result for Judges suspended by Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1988

This Judicial Crisis was created by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in his capacity as Prime Minister No. 4 in 1988. Sir Eusoffe was one of the 5 Judges. After that, the Judiciary became an appendage of the Executive Branch

Eusoffe was among the five Supreme Court judges who were suspended after granting the then Lord President Salleh Abbas an interim order against a tribunal for misconduct.

This after Salleh opposed a bill – that sparked the judicial crisis in 1988 – which sought to divest the courts of the “judicial power of the Federation”, giving them only such powers as Parliament granted them.


Salleh went on to express his disappointment with the then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in a letter that was addressed to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and other state Rulers. Salleh was suspended two months later before being removed as Lord President in August of that year.

Inspired by Eusoffe’s life and legacy, his judgments will be used as a teaching tool for young people in a series of human rights writing workshops called “VastWords”, part sponsored by Think City, a subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional.

Between Nov–Dec 2018, the VastWords programme will train 400 students in Kuala Lumpur.The best essays from the initiative will be published in a book, promoting diverse opinions and giving voice to young people’s perspectives on human rights issues in Malaysia.


5 thoughts on “Tribute to ‘legal lion’ Sir Eusoffe Abdoolcader

  1. I was, and have been, a keen follower of those critical events. Tun Salleh was one year senior to me at University. I know him well both as a human being and as an erudite Jurist. From my end of the spectrum, as a practising barrister in England and Wales, the removal of Tun Salleh from office was utterly incomprehensible! Malaysia’s now second time Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir is the same man whose hand manipulated these events. You may well understand why I have commented before that a leopard never changes its spots nor an Ethiopian his skin.

  2. A great man, well learned and much respected Esoffe’s trials I used to read with much enthusiasm in those years. His obsessiveness to the rule of law which the same PM of today victimised him for speaking the right when Mahathir was the PM then and Mahathir of today is trying to preach the same ‘rule of law’ after becoming PM again. Do you see the irony of the character of Mahathir of today?

    We missed great judges giving great verdicts in the trials in the yesteryears of Independant Malaysia. The independence of judiciary today has been in question since Mahathir’s era and he is helming the PM’s seat again and let’s see if there could be any real changes to the rule of law that he harps on.
    We miss some legal legends like Lord President Azmi, Lord President Suffian, Lord President Salleh Abas and others. Today, we have political judges.–Din Merican

  3. In an Ad Memoriam on the first anniversary of the death of his wife Puan Sri Datin Seri Haseenah Abdoolcader, the late Tan Sri Dato Seri Dr Eusoffe Abdoolcader included four poems, two quotations, and a poem of his own in Latin; he also wrote the English version. Here are just three gems which appeared as a full-page advertorial in The Star of 8 February 1994.

    Tu mea, Lux vitae!
    silentiose temet reminisor
    Ac persaepe nomen tibi farior:
    Tantummodo mi memoriae
    Et in forma picturae fuant;
    At sepulcrum tuum vagans et errans
    Caritate quom curaque rosas appositum:
    At neque vero quispiam cordolium scire possit
    Quando te istic relicta desserus sum;
    Quoniam nullum monumentum magis robustiar
    perennare potest
    Quam inter nos partimur amor immortalis,
    Idcirco gaudeamus et semper ipsi meminerimus
    Ut enimvero nosmet copula talis unicos faciat

    My love, Light of my life!
    I think of thee in silence
    And often speak thine name:
    All I have are memories
    And photos in a frame;
    To thy resting-place I wander
    But no one can know the heart-ache
    As I turn and leave thee there;
    No monument can stand more stalwart
    Than the everlasting love we share,
    Let’s then rejoice and ever bear in mind
    That such a bond surely makes us but one of a kind

    In the ethereal seat where you must be,
    If you consent to memories of our sphere,
    Recall the love which, burning pure and clear,
    So often in my eyes you used to see!
    If then, in the incurable, long anguish
    Of having lost you, as I pine and languish,
    You see some merit – do this favour for me
    And to the God who cut your life short, pray
    That he as early to your sight restore me
    As from my own he swept you far away.
    Luis de Camoens

    Vitaque mancipio nulli datur, omnibus usu.
    (To none is life given in freehold; to all on lease)

  4. Correction: Quando te istic relicta desserus sum should read
    Quando te istic relicta decessurus sum

    Thank you.

  5. With time to spare my tribute to “the legal lion” won’t be complete without the rest of the entries in the advertorial. He was truly a remarkable man – jurist, scholar, poet, philosopher and lover of mankind!

    “Thy tears o’erprize thy loss! Thy wife
    In what was she particular?
    Others of comely face and life,
    Others as chaste and warm there are,
    And when they speak they seem to sing;
    Beyond her sex she was not wise;
    And there is no more common thing
    Than kindness in a woman’s eyes.
    Then wherefore weep so long and fast,
    Why so exceedingly repine?
    Say, how has thy Beloved surpassed
    So much all others?” – “She was mine.”
    Coventry Patmore

    Sleep on my Love in thy cold bed
    Never to be disquieted!
    My last good night! Thou wilt not wake
    Till I thy fate shall overtake:
    Till age, or grief, or sickness must
    Marry my body to that dust
    It so much loves; and fill the room
    My heart keeps empty in thy tomb.
    Stay for me there; I will not fail
    To meet thee in that hollow vale.
    And think not much of my delay;
    I am already on the way,
    And follow thee with all the speed.
    Each minute is a short degree.
    And every hour a step towards thee . . .

    But hark! My pulse, like a soft drum
    Beats my approach, tells thee I come;
    And, slow howe’er my marches be,
    I shall at last sit down by thee.
    The thought of this bids me go on,
    And wait my dissolution
    With hope and comfort. Dear! (Forgive
    The crime) I am content to live
    Divided, with but half a heart,
    Till we shall meet and never part
    Henry King

    Nunc placida composta pace quiescit
    (Now she reposes, lapped in peaceful rest.)

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