By Marshalle Tan | posted on 13 December 2014
How long have you been working with Jayasuriya Kah & Co ("the Firm")?
I joined the Firm in 1975. It would be about 39 years by now. To be exact, 15 July 1975 was my first day of work. I remember the exact date because it was an eventful day in history for me.
Why was it so eventful for you?
It was the day I saw the light of democracy. In July 1975, it was the beginning of the formation of Parti Berjaya. It was then when the local newspapers were finally publishing advertisements against the Parti USNO. It was this day I saw freedom of publication in the newspapers.
Besides that, when I first started with the Firm, it was located in the old Great Eastern Life building. I remember vividly seeing people at the opposite building celebrating this eventful day from my office window. I remember seeing lion dance and parades in the streets celebrating the freedom of publication, which was finally allowed.
How has the Firm changed and what are the significant changes you would like to share?
In the beginning, the Firm only consisted of 2 office units located at the old Great Eastern Life building. There were only 4 lawyers in the Firm when I first started working there, i.e. Tan Sri Thomas Jayasuriya, Mr. John Kah, Mr. David Wong (chambering at the Firm then) and Mr. Paul Kan (who left to practice in Tawau eventually). Back in those days, the office only had a chief clerk, a conveyancing clerk, 2 secretaries (Ms. Floria Yuen and Ms. Monica) and also an office boy (Mr. John Kinbun).
In 1979, we moved to a new office block which is where we are right now, Wisma Sabah. The Firm started off as a firm taking up only 3 1/2 units of office space. Looking at us today, I can say that we have well expanded throughout the years. Notwithstanding the expansion, the original units the Firm had occupied in 1979 are still being used today.
What are the tasks undertaken by you when you first started working with the Firm and how has that changed?
When I first joined the Firm, my tasks were basically as an all rounder. I mostly attended and was in charge of the office accounts. However, I also helped out in the management of the office throughout my years in the Firm. With regards to accounting, the accounts had to be done manually back then. There was no computer programme to help out with the accounting. I can still remember during those days, I had to lay out long rolls of paper and manually enter the accounts. It was much more difficult and tedious back in the 1980's. It actually took up a long time to perfect the accounts and to balance the ledger for clients. Without the help of modern technology back then, accounting work was much more time consuming compared to these days.
The busiest time of year is when year-end approaches. The accounts needed to be settled quickly. Year-end bonuses needed to be distributed and the accounts needed to be finalised before the New Year. This was the time of the year where Tan Sri would pay bonuses to the workers and staff therefore the accounts had to be perfected.
Besides that, I also helped out with the conveyancing and litigation work back then, I did mostly loan documents and also foreclosure proceedings.
What are the technological changes you have seen throughout the years and how has it changed the way tasks are carried out in the Firm?
In terms of the equipment used in the office, only typewriters were used to draft documents back in those days.
It would take us up to 2 to 3 days to finish up a Sale and Purchase Agreement. When a mistake was made, the document had to be re-drafted all over again. Furthermore, when clients wish to make amendments, they would have to come back for their documents 2 to 3 days later to collect the amended documents. Nowadays, amendments can be done almost instantly with the help of computers.
When it came to litigation works, amendments had to be done several times for example, before a perfect Court Order is perfected and this would normally take a longer time compared to now. The clerks and secretaries back then were the people doing the typing, drafting, and taking shorthand notes from dictations.
Our Firm was one of the first to use word processors. We switched from typewriters to huge computers to modern laptops. We now have an up to date printing system in our firm and also an advance computer systems to link workers and staffs within the firm.