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Biography

biography

Tun Abdul Hamid Bin Haji Mohamad was born on 18 April 1942 in Permatang Tinggi Bakar Bata, Kepala Batas, Province Wellesley, Penang. He received his early education in Malay School Paya Keladi.


How he started going to school is interesting. One morning, a few days before the school reopened, he told his father that he wanted to go to school. His father agreed. When the day came he followed his brother (Ishak, who was in Standard Six, the highest class then) and other boys (girls from his kampong did not go to school then) to the school, walking through three villages separated by rice fields. Text books for lower classes then contained stories like Pak Kadok, Lebai Malang, Mat Jenin, Si Luncai while students in higher classes read Hikayat Abdullah, Pelayaran Abdullah, Hikayat Hang Tuah and Sejarah Melayu.

At the urging of his class teacher, Cikgu Muhammad Awang, in 1955, he enrolled for the Special Malay One. It was supposed to be at St. Mark’s School, Butterworth. But, the school decided to push the class to St. Mark’s Branch School in Prai. As a result, every morning, he had to cycle two miles to Kepala Batas, take a bus to Butterworth, walk one mile to Hujung Batu, cross the Prai River by sampan and walk another quarter of a mile to reach the school. He had to do that for three years.

After that he went to St. Mark’s Secondary School Butterworth. He excelled in essay writing and public speaking. Even when he was in the lower secondary classes, his essays used to be read in by the teacher in other classes. When he was in Form Three he participated in the Speech Contest organized by the Government in conjunction with the National Language Week. Without anybody’s guidance, he wrote his speeches and went up on the stage to deliver. He kept winning until he became the champion for Malay Boys Section in the Northern Zone, consisting of Perak, Penang, Kedah and Perlis. At the national level he won the third prize.

Since then he actively participated not only in speech contests but also in debates and essay competitions and won many prizes. When he was in Form Five, he became the national champion in the National Language Month Speech Contest. The national champion for the non-Malay Girls Section was a baba-nyonya Melaka girl by the name of Choong Giok Hee, now Toh Puan Hamidan Choong Binti Abdullah. That year (1962) he also became the first Malay boy to be the Head Prefect of the school. He obtained Grade One in the senior Cambridge and Malay Certificate of Education, one of the three Malay students in the state of Penang to obtain such result that year.

He then went to St Xavier’s Institution in George Town, Penang for Form Six. There were 23 students in his class out of whom only three were Malay students. Among the student was a Chinese girl by the name of Lim Phaik Kim, now the world-famous feng-sui expert Lillian Too. During the first week his essay was read by the teacher in class.

He then proceeded to read law at the University of Singapore. Out of the 180 first year intake, only 56 passed the first year examination and 38 proceeded to graduate in four years. He was one of them.

He joined the Judicial and Legal Service and, for twenty one years, served as Magistrate, President of Sessions Court, Assistant Director of the Legal Aid Bureau, Deputy Registrar of the High Court, State Legal Advisor, Senior Federal Counsel of the Inland Revenue Department and Head of Prosecution in the Attorney General’s Chambers.

On 1 May 1990, he was appointed as Judicial Commissioner and later as High Court Judge, Court of Appeal Judge, Federal Court Judge and President of the Court of Appeal. On 1 November 2007 he was appointed as the Chief Justice of Malaysia. He retired on 18 October 2008.

In the course of his carrier, he was also appointed as Judge of the Special Court and Judge of the Shari’ah Court of Appeal for the State of Penang. It means that he had served as Judge in all the courts in the country, Civil as well as Shari’ah.

He had written 567 judgments of the Superior Courts, including one judgment each of the Special Court and of the Shari’ah Court of Appeal. Most of them were published in the law reports. His judgments cover all aspects of law. Indeed, most of the important judgments on jurisdictions of the Civil and the Shari’ah Courts were written by him.

He had presented many working papers, delivered many keynote addresses and speeches at conferences, seminars, workshops, forum and muzakarah, both locally and abroad. Among them was the Abdul Razaq Al-Sanhouri Lecture at Harvard University on 6 November 2008.

In seven years of his retirement (2008 to 2015), in spite of a gap of more than a year because of ill-heatlh, and in spite of the fact that he was in pain most of the time, he had written, delivered or presented more than 117 articles, talks, lectures and papers,  most of which have been published locally and abroad. All of them are available on this website. Indeed, he considered that his most important speeches, lectures and artcles were written during this period.

He had served as Chairmn of the Anti-Corrution Advisory Board of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commision, Chairman of the Special Committee for the Determination of Cash Payment Claims for Petroleum Revenue in the East Coast of Peninular Malaysia and a member of the Judicial Appointments Commission.

He is currently Chairman of the Law Harmonisation Committee of Bank Negara Malaysia (Central Bank of Malaysia), Chairman of the Monetary Penalty Review Committee of Bank Negara Malaysia, a member of the Shari’ah Advisory Council of Bank Negara as well as of the Securities Commission (Securities Commission of Malaysia).

In 2008, he was awarded the Seri Setia Mahkota (“S.S.M.”) by the Yang Di Pertuan Agong which carries the title of “Tun”. His other awards are Darjah Utama Pangkuan Negeri (D.U.P.N) (Penang) in 2008 carrying the title “Dato’ Seri Utama”, Darjah Seri Paduka Cura Si Manja Kini (S.P.C.M.) (Perak) in 2008 carrying the title “Dato’ Seri”, Darjah Yang Mulia Pangkuan Negeri (D.M.P.N.) (Penang) in 1996 carrying the title “Dato’”, Darjah Dato’ Paduka Cura Si Manja Kini (D.P.C.M.) (Perak) (1989) carrying the title “Dato’”, Kestria Mangku Negara (K.M.N.)(Federal) in 1978 and Pingat Jaksa Kebaktian (P.J.K.) (Perlis) in 1974.

On 15 October 2011 he was awarded the Honorary Doctorate in Management by Universiti Tenaga Nasional Malaysia (UNITEN). On 3 December 2011, he was awarded the Honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Shari’ah and Judiciary by Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM). On 1 November 2014, he was awarded the Honorary Doctorate in Law by the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). On 11 November 2014, he received the Lifetime Leadership in Islamic Finance Award at the  2014 Kuala Lumpur Islamic Finance Forum.

He was an  Adjunct Professor of the Universiti Tenaga Nasional Malaysia (UNITEN) and Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM). Currently, he is an Adjunct Professor of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

To top it all, on 14 October 2015, he was received the Tokoh Maal Hijrah Award. His speech at the ceremony was carried life to the whole nation.

He is married to Toh Puan Hamidah Choong Binti Abdullah who retired as a Matron in Government Hospital. They have four children: Mohd. Azam a Captain in Malaysia Airlines, Mohd Arif a Senior Federal Counsel in the Attorney General’s Chambers, Murni an officer in the Malaysian Foreign Service and Melati a Senior Federal Counsel in the Attorney General’s Chambers. They have five granddaughters and one grandson.

He could be contacted at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.