KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 29 — The passing of Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram is felt not only by the judiciary and legal fraternity but also by the journalists who covered his cases.
Many of them say they will miss the prominent law practitioner’s presence in court.
They spoke fondly of his firm but amiable approach to ensuring that reporters came out with accurate court stories.
Bernama Court Desk Editor Suriati Sidek Ahmad said Sri Ram was very helpful and kind to reporters during his tenure as a Court of Appeal and Federal Court Judge as well as a lawyer.
“The most memorable thing that I cannot forget was when he was sitting as Court of Appeal judge. With his stern voice, he would ask us reporters who were seated at the public gallery to come over and sit at the lawyers’ seats (when they were vacant).
“You, reporters come and sit in front. How can you get the correct facts when you are writing on your laps (without a table),” Suriati recollected.
She said Sri Ram was also a cooperative lawyer, never shying from helping reporters when they were in the dark about any cases that he presented in court.
“I will miss him saying “Yes, young lady how can I help you?” whenever I approached him for clarification after court proceedings,” she said.
Bernama journalist Jocelyn Ann Dragon said Sri Ram was well-liked by many court reporters, adding that although he had a stern look, he was kind at heart.
“As a lawyer as well as a senior deputy public prosecutor, Sri Ram was ever-ready to assist reporters who sought help to explain what had transpired in court proceedings.
“He has a humorous side and would even joke with the media too,” she said
Fellow Berrnama journalist, N.Sevagamy, from Bernama described Sri Ram as a ‘walking legal dictionary’ and can be referred to anytime.
“If I have any legal questions, Sri Ram would be the first I would call. He was so generous in sharing his knowledge.
“His making an entrance in the courtroom always gave members of the media goosebumps, as the late Sri Ram was very knowledgeable and the points he raised in the courtroom would always be the ‘headline’ of the day.
“He was an icon who cannot be replaced, and his passing is not only a great loss to the judiciary but also to all of us,” said Sevagamy.
For Free Malaysia Today (FMT) senior journalist, V. Anbalagan, who has known Sri Ram for 20 years, said Sri Ram was very helpful in that he always ensured reporters understood the subject matter at hand.
He said Sri Ram will provide reporters with documents and take the trouble to explain legal issues and terms in a simple manner.
“He will also explain the gist of a judgment after the court had delivered a rather complicated judgment.
“As a judge, he will make sure the reporters get the grounds (of judgment) from his secretary as soon as possible, and not the next day.
“He truly understands the works of reporters. Even after court proceedings were held online, he was of great help in giving written submissions before the actual hearing started,” Anbalagan said.
The Edge Associate Editor Abdul Hafiz Mohammad Yatim said Sri Ram was known as a judge and a lawyer who recognises the role of the media as the Fourth Estate, and would treat journalists covering court cases with much respect.
“When covering his court cases, he would not mind spending extra minutes to attend to reporters’ questions and answer in simple language so that the legal issues could be easily understood and reported.
“His sudden passing is a huge loss not only to the judiciary and the legal fraternity but also to us reporters who know him well as he would also advise us personally to always take care of ourselves,” he said.