Justice Mah Weng Kwai (LLM ’86 HonFellow ’94)
Judge of the Malaysian Court of Appeal
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
“The Masters program has kept me in good stead over the years as I have practiced in the areas of family, civil and commercial law; and now as a judge, I preside over cases in these jurisdictions as well,” says Mah Weng Kwai, who graduated with a Master of Laws from the University of Sydney in 1986.
Kwai now serves as a Judge of the Court of Appeal in Malaysia, which he sees as the highlight of his legal career. Over the past three years, Kwai has also served as a Judicial Commissioner of the High Court of Malaysia and a Judge of the High Court of Malaysia. He was bestowed with a ‘Datoship’ by the HRH the Sultan of Selangor in December 2012, which is a Malaysian royal title equivalent to the English royal title of ‘Sir’.
Having qualified as a Barrister-at-law in London in 1971, Kwai was awarded a fully paid scholarship by the Government of Malaysia. He says he could have used it to return to London to pursue his Masters in Law, but decided to study at the University of Sydney instead. “I chose to pursue my post-graduate studies in Law at the University of Sydney because of the excellent standards and reputation of the University in general and of the Law Faculty in particular,” he said. “I was also able to pursue the subjects I was interested in.”
After graduating from the University, Kwai was a member of the Malaysian Bar and practiced as an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Malaysia. In 1994, he was appointed a Fellow of the Senate of the University of Sydney. In 1989, he was responsible for inaugurating the Sydney University Graduates of Malaysia Alumni (SUGMA) in Kuala Lumpur. Kwai has served as President of the Malaysian Bar and as President of LAWASIA, which is the professional law organisation for the Asia-Pacific region.
Kwai says that in order to strengthen our engagement with the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, we need to “be more ‘Asia’ than ‘Pacific’”. He says, “[Australia] has to be wholly accepted as part of Asia for it to partake in trade and commerce with the ever-growing economies of Asia, in particular China and Southeast Asia.”