A Tribute to Mr. Thana

The Court’s Library, 1.30 p.m.

Dearest Phantom,

I could hardly sustain my excitement to share with you a story of my former lecturer, Mr. Thana, whom we had the privilege to run into by chance this morning. Before that – and in order to make you fully comprehend the gravity of this story – I must first tell about lawyers’ qualifying exam, Certificate In Legal Practice (CLP), a test of which must be passed by all aspiring lawyers. The fact that the CLP bears no significance at all in one’s legal practice is of no importance since everyone must have full passes of all 5 subjects before they could begin their tutelage. It’s something equivalent to the Bar Exam in England. A little humming bird told that the higher power in legal profession set a mean benchmark for law graduates – who are stupid enough in the first place to take up the exam – to pass.

I did mine in ITM (now known as UiTM, whatever for though?) way back in 1999. I was a lot younger, less-wrinkly with thick, bushy hair without an iota of care in the world; that is until life interfered and forced me to grow up. Anyway, and if I may bring you back to this story at hand, Mr. Thana taught us General Paper (GP): one of the killer-paper made infamous by its myriad of topics that the examiner could pick from to just kill our lawyering dreams passed the point of possible resurrection.

However, entered this Thana person, brimmed up to his head in confidence and style, to teach us GP. Just weeks before the exam, he mischievously said, “if you don’t have anything else to bring to the exam hall, bring your confidence, you’ll be fine”. That and countless other witty jokes of his had us all in stitches throughout CLP’s tormenting year.

Mr. Thana was – and still is – a practising lawyer and I guess that’s what give him the edge in lecturing. He could crack the meanest of joke from the silliest point of law right up to judges’ attitude; making it much easier for us to remember the topic he was teaching us. His was a non-conventional teaching method. He did not bring any book to the lecture hall or any notes for that matter. He remembered by heart things that he wanted us to know or learn from him.

Besides his obvious ability to lecture, Mr. Thana, has an uncanny ability to screen the hearts of his students. He personally asked one of us while wearing a face filled with concern, in a speech style that rivaled of James Bond’s, “So… what’s bugging you my dear?”

True to form, Mr. Thana’s class hardly had absentees. Even the most frivolous of us *ahem!* could find it in their hearts to sit through his classes and tutorials. And if I may add, GP was as dry a subject as a bone – probably still is though.

I recall calling him in the middle of the night (God bless his wife) before the exam started, frantic with fear, asking him, “Sir, what if I failed?” To which he cordially replied, “What is there to fail, my dear? You are already too smart for your own good.” I was immensely comforted notwithstanding the truth in his answers.

As fate would have it, Mr. Thana, got almost a full passes from my batch. He was the second person I called to inform about my passing the impossible-to-pass-exam after my parents. He was so overwhelmed with his students’ achievement, he could hardly make himself coherent, amidst the shouts of joy and tear. And today, he sat at Starbucks with his three former students – all practising lawyers now – who still look up to him in awe.

He wore that proud look on his face today while looking at us but he couldn’t help himself from teaching us the rope in practice post CLP exam. Sadness gnawed in my heart as he drained that last bit of coffee from his mug before he bade us adieu. Mr. Thana, in some ways, helped me into being who I am today. To borrow Hi & Lo’s words, “teaching is a calling, not a job”. And Mr. Thana did it exceptionally well.

I must go now as I am scheduled to be in court ten minutes ago. Though I have to tell you that the view from this library cubicle is breathtaking. I could see the majestic Masjid Wilayah at far right and that pathetic government complex at Jalan Duta.

Until our next letter, I remain…


Elviza Michele.


15 thoughts on “A Tribute to Mr. Thana

  1. Fooh!

    Love this post and a great tribute to a deserving teacher. I hope he gets to read it!

    BTW, I read somewhere a quote from one of the great philosophers (was it Aristotle? can’t remember) that there’s no such thing as a bad student. Only bad teachers. And if all in your batch passed . . . that certainly spoke volumes for Mr. Thana.


    Welcome to wordpress family. And you are just being too nice because you want me to belanja you during our next teh tarek.

    Was that Aristotle? I don’t know, I can’t understand a word of that madman was saying. Philosophy = pompousness!

  2. Dear E,
    Some teacher can be so inspiring that you count yourself lucky that you cross his path.

    My teacher smack my head for being naughty once and told me that he presumed there was nothing in it as it sounded empty.It hurt more than the pang on my head.For the ones like me ,that really worked ….he goaded well , all my life i got to prove to myself that its not empty…..

    Now its full of crap with 10% allocated for daily usage to earn my living

    Dear Mr. Kalahari (you are not hot today, Sir?),

    Oh my, you use so much brain to earn a living? I only use 0.0000078 percent of it. That alone I cannot bear. πŸ™‚

  3. I second Mat Salo’s ‘Fooh!’

    Mr Thana sounds like someone I want to be when I grow up.

    However, what intrigues me more this this person you call the ‘phantom’


    Why are you always agreeing with that bad boy Madsalo? You guys speak in secret codes is it?

    You haven’t grown up? Do you need a number to a shrink friend of mine?

    Phantom = Hantu lah! apa lagi… πŸ™‚

  4. Elviza,

    Can you tell what is your secret? You write so very well you send the MSM writers right to the bins!

    I wish you could write on daily basis. Lucky we dont have to pay to read blogs.



    You write such a flattering comment even if I am sure whether it does justice to matters at hand. However, I am happy that you enjoy this post. Take care.

    I suppose I could write only daily basis, I am literally destitute anyway: what does difference does it make? πŸ˜›

  5. Whatever you wanted to write, you write it so well. I feel like I know this Mr. Thana already. Never mind I have never met him all my life.

    I like his anwers ‘you too smart for your own good”


    Let me assure you, I am nowhere near the spectrum of “smart” people. In fact I hate using my brain! Have a good day.

  6. Sis Elviza,

    From your account of Mr Thana, I can’t help but admire the man. Outside the legal fraternity, we have not heard of him in the same breath as Raja Aziz Addruse, the late Christopher Fernando, Mr Thana is a lawyer’s lawyer. He is not only good in law, but with a deep passion to cultivate good lawyers.

    When one is good, one desires others to be as good and even better than him marks the true maestro.

  7. Cik Elviza Michele Kamal,

    Pukol berapa hari nih nak jumpa? Asyik menulis aje! Come back down you silly woman.

    p/s: I am fat Mish… I hate myself.

  8. Elviza

    I was in the school library(doing nothing) when this Miss Grace Decker walked in; an American PeaceCorps. She happen to be the Library teacher and I was then the chief librarian.” What are you doing here dear, you should be in class” she lamented. I told her ”I could’nt because the form teacher had ordered me to go back home and get my school fees, it been due for a few months now”. I didnt go back but instead hid myself in the library hoping by the next hour it would be safe when another teacher took over the class. Even if I did go back, its pointless cause I knew my parent would never afford the school fees. Hence the hiding in the library.

    She took pity on me I think when she open her wicker handbag and started counting..1 dollar, two,three four ..until she stop at seven dollars. She handed the amounts and ”Go back to to the class and take this money to pay your fees.” And that ‘s what I did.

    Its been 42 years since and I owed this teacher not the money but the kindness. I wonder whether she still alived. Thank you Miss Decker . I owe you one.

  9. i remember Mr. Thana and how good it felt to see him again with u and apai…. he is a wonderful lecturer and he deserves all the compliments u have bestowed upon him in this post….

  10. elviza,

    i met my old professor tadi, while i was complaining because the big boss ordered me to go for a night assignment (and i’ve been working since morning…and i have an early assignment tomorrow. prfffhh…)

    my old professor, dr rahmat, i approached him and said, “dr, u taught me newswriting….”

    and he said, ” i remember you,”

    dah lima tahun dah since he left for the states. waktu tu i baru second semester diploma.

    kejap je dapat borak dengan dia…

  11. This post may be from one month ago but that’s not important at all. I’ve only gotten to read it because I’ve not known about this weblog before.

    Or maybe I had, but didn’t click on the link then for I was a `focused surfer’ – with definite plans of doing something when on the Internet (I only had a connection from home in mid-July; and when you’re only on GRPS at 54.6Kbps, you don’t click here and there).

    But seeing your latest post (about Ahmad Ismail) listed at Kelantan Bloggers sure spurred me into finding out who this Elviza is (had never crossed my mind that you could be from Kelantan).

    Anyway, I’m echoing what Gabriel had written above, and flatter you some more: You write extremely well!

    There is no `perasan’, pretentiousness or anything like that here (and the ones I had read so far). And believe me, we can spot it easily enough. What more with “people like me” (the age group, plus me `having been there’).

    One bit of unsolicited advice here (I do this only with people I like:-) ): Carry on as you are.

    Continue doing your lawyer work – and ESPECIALLY in being a good wife and mother, and a good daughter and sibling.

    NO compromise on these, everything else be damned if need be. I’ll show you the scars and wounds from the lessons I’ve paid for in blood. If you were to know me long enough, I got them.

    There’s no need to think about writing fulltime – you’re doing fine enough as it is. If anything, and paradoxically, your busy schedule might make you an even better writer!…you’ll come up with quality instead of quantity. I’ve been there, done that…

    Keep it coming!

    Dear Cendana287,

    Sir, I am sure, you are just too generous with compliments… Thank you for the vote of confidence though.

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