The great English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson once said “Authority forgets the dying King”. It is not perhaps facile exaggeration to recount, as memory serves, the two founding partners met under precisely these circumstances. The year was 1999, that history would contrive to reveal 30 people who, enraptured by religious fervor under the banner of ‘Al Maunah’, dressed in military fatigues, staged an arms heists on 2 army camps. Fortressed in Bukit Jenalek, they called upon an en bloc resignation of the Cabinet and the establishment of an Islamic state. Thwarted and disabled, the 30 men were charged with high treason which the Nation in its shock and stupor had never before witnessed. Seizing the moment, the Prosecution rallied popular imagination to its cause and called the act ‘the waging of war’ against the Supreme Head of the Federation, the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, and resorted to the unprecedented section 121 of the Penal Code. Amid the ire of the Nation, the task of the advocate becomes momentous. The rallying call of the law as the vanguard of justice must be answered, and answered with vigor, lest the dying King be forgotten.
Kamarul Hisham, then a Senior Partner to Mr. Sivarasa Rasiah MP of Daim & Gamany, was assigned the brief and the task to assemble a prominent legal team in defence of the accused. Along with Mr. Karpal Singh MP, a contemporary practitioner Hasnal Rezua, who at the time had just left the practice of Dato’ Seri Dr. Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, (as he then was), was approached to augment the team. Together, they spear headed the defence.
The arduous battle that ensued opened at many fronts. The Government of the Nation, the security forces, public opinion and mainstream media, together composed the ominous figure of Goliath. Midway through the trial, the events of September 11 catapulted the Nation into a state of fear and frenzy and turned the spotlight of the international community upon the battle ground with anxious anticipation as to whether Malaysia and its justice system would yield to terrorism. Along with Mr. Karpal Singh, Kamarul Hisham and Hasnal Rezua answered the challenge which culminated in 2 Federal Court confrontations, the first on the validity of the trial which resorted to archaic and draconian Emergency provisions and the other on the substantive guilt of the accused. The battle spanned over 2 years setting the record as the longest trial in the country’s history.
The conclusion of the trial saw Kamarul Hisham honoured with the office of Senior Federal Counsel and Deputy Public Prosecutor in the Attorney-General’s Chambers while Hasnal Rezua went on to lead the final appeal of the ‘Al Maunah’ in the Federal Court.
Kamarul Hisham would later hold office as a Partner at Messrs Shook Lin & Bok. In October of 2004 he re-forged alliance with Hasnal Rezua. And the rest, as they say, is history.