Sharon Tan Suyin

Sharon was truly extraordinary. She was a family person first of all, as a mother, daughter and wife. What she achieved in her profession was singular.

She started life in Malacca as a daughter of schoolteachers, and achieved a Chevening scholarship to pursue law, which she did at King’s College, London. It was there that she also took on the mantle of single motherhood under extremely difficult circumstances whilst sustaining her academic endeavours. Her perseverance in the face of adversity, during her degree and her year completing her Bar Finals course is a testament to her strength of character and her love for her family. It is also a testament to the love and support of her family in a time of great difficulty.

As a lawyer, Sharon was simply exceptional. She was admitted as an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya in 1997, and began her career as an associate with Zaid Ibrahim & Co. She remained there throughout her career, which spanned over 20 years.

She gained the esteem of her seniors with her tenacity, attention to detail, and fierce intellect. Her juniors held her in high regard for her willingness to teach, and belief in mentorship. These qualities combined led her to partnership in Zaid Ibrahim & Co in 2005. As a partner, Sharon was known for her commitment to delivering the highest quality of legal services. In addition, she had a deep passion for developing talent and was a mentor to many lawyers who have since become partners of the firm as well as successful in-house counsel.

Sharon headed the competition law practice there and also had a leading role in technology, communications and multimedia work. She was engaged by the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism of Malaysia to draft the Competition Bill with the aim of establishing a legal framework to curb anti-competitive activities. She also helped draft the Competition Commission Act 2010 to aid the enforcement of the Competition Act 2010. Prior to that, she advised the then Ministry of Energy, Communications and Multimedia of Malaysia on the harmonisation of federal laws with information technology laws. This culminated in the drafting of the Electronic Commerce Act 2006 and the Electronic Government Activities Act 2007 and proposed amendments to over a dozen pieces of federal legislation. Those on the consumer end of electronic governance would have experienced the fruits of her work and those of her team.

In the communications sector, Sharon also advised the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (“MCMC”) in the preparation of the then National Numbering and Electronic Addressing Plan. She had also latterly advised the MCMC on a review of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Act 1998 and drafted amendments to these statutes, which were expected to have been tabled in 2017, a year before she was diagnosed with terminal illness.

All these pales in comparison with the impression she left in the lives of her friends and loved ones. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as having said that “the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man.” Sharon, as a woman, lived up to it and more. She bore her illness with hope, and then with dignity, even through severe pain.

All these were personified in the last words she said on the night before she passed.

Mention has to be made of her daughter Sheryl. After Sharon’s passing, a friend who saw Sheryl, exclaimed “My word, that’s Sharon”. One cannot think of higher praise. Sharon’s last words before she passed were for Sheryl – they were, “I love you.”

It was a fitting reflection of Sharon’s life. As an Advocate and Solicitor, one can, and should, be a good person; and it is on this note that we all bid goodbye until the roll is called up again on yonder distant shore.

Written By,
Lim Tuck Sun