By Harwinder Kaur | First Person | Malaysia |
I am an advocate & solicitor by profession. My area of speciality is commercial, property, probate, corporate and tort.
I am also a legal committee member of EKTA Club and have given talks at Subang, Ulu Klang and Kota Kinabalu gurdwaras on advance care planning and also rendered free legal advice at Sentul gurdwara on the last Wednesday of every month. However, due to the movement control order, EKTA’s legal activities have to be temporarily put on hold.
I am married to Dato Harpal Singh Grewal also an advocate and solicitor by profession and have 3 children namely Jesrina Kaur Grewal, Ivanpal Singh Grewal, the former political secretary to Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities and now a practising lawyer and Karina Kaur Grewal.
My husband and I are blessed with 3 grandchildren namely Anaayah, Shayaan and Arshaan who are the light of my life and my every heartbeat.
My late father Harbhajan Singh of Medan Damansara, Kuala Lumpur was formerly with the Ministry of Defence.
My late brother Lt (U) Patvinder Singh, a fighter pilot was with the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) and passed away whilst on duty in a plane crash in Kuantan on 4-5-1979.
As a child, my late mother Madam Ajit Kaur used to tell me stories about the Sikh religion and sacrifices made by our Gurus for our religion, which stories inspired me throughout my growing years that we have to persevere in life, which perseverance requires sacrifice.
My late father used to always encourage me to reach for the stars and he used to say “that if someone can do it, it is you”.
My late father, mother and my late brother are my guardian angels, my strength, inspiration and determination in life and their belief in me has kept me moving forward in life.
On 1-7-2018, I was appointed (for a three-year period) as a President of the Strata Management Tribunal (SMT), which Tribunal was established under the Strata Management Act, 2013 (SMA) and is under the purview of the Ministry of Housing & Local Government.
I am on a contract with the Government of Malaysia and am Grade L54. On this contract, I am allowed to continue with my legal practice.
I am the first Sikh lady in Malaysia to be appointed as a President of the SMT and I preside in the Putrajaya & Kuala Lumpur Tribunals.
Under the SMA, I hear disputes commenced or defended by developers, purchasers, proprietors of properties, joint management bodies, management corporations or their subsidiaries, managing agents or such other persons or bodies who have obtained special permission from the SMT.
I further hear disputes over a person or body’s failure to perform a function, duty or power imposed by the SMA, disputes over costs or repairs of a defect, claims for recovery of maintenance, sinking fund charges or such other charges under the SMA, claims for an order to convene general meetings, invalidate meetings or nullify resolutions passed at the general meetings, compel a party to supply information or documents, give consent to effect alterations to common property, affirm, vary or revoke decisions of the Commissioner of Buildings.
I am also empowered under the SMA to make such awards to vary or set aside a contract or additional by laws which are inconsistent with the bylaws or in house rules of a stratified building.
Pursuant to Section 123 of the SMA, any party who fails to comply with an award made by the SMT commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding RM 250,000.00 or to imprisonment to a term not exceeding 3 years or to both and in the case of a continuing offence, to a further fine not exceeding RM5,000 for every day thereof during which the offence continues after conviction and such prosecution shall be instituted by the Public Prosecutor under Section 136 of the SMA.
As a President hearing disputes, I believe in granting leeway to litigants who appear before me to fully ventilate their arguments as most of the litigants do have genuine disputes and grievances and as such, I do not believe in shutting out any party from fully presenting their case although the hearings can take place over several days.
For me to be where I am today, I thank my husband, children, son in law and daughter in law for all their unwavering support and being my pillars of support in handling 2 demanding jobs whilst being a wife, mother and grandmother at the same time.
I hope that my journey in life will inspire other women, especially my Sikh sisters, to break barriers and strive to realise their dreams as nothing is impossible.
As Michelle Obama said, “there is no magic to achievement. It’s really about hard work, choices and persistence.” I believe we can all do very well if we put our minds to it.
(The writer, Harwinder Kaur d/o Harbhajan Singh, is the first Sikh lady to be appointed as a president of Malaysia’s Strata Management Tribunal)
Sikh judge elavated to Malaysia’s top court (Asia Samachar, 17 July 2020)