Mohamed Suffian Mohamed Hashim
Lord President of the Federal Court
In office
1 May 1974 – 12 November 1982
Preceded byMohamed Azmi Mohamed
Succeeded byRaja Azlan Shah
Personal details
Born(1917-11-12)12 November 1917
Kota Lama Kiri, Kuala Kangsar, Perak, Federated Malay States, British Malaya (now Malaysia)
Died26 September 2000(2000-09-26) (aged 82)
Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Resting placeAl-Ghufran Royal Mausoleum, Kuala Kangsar, Perak
Alma materGonville and Caius College, Cambridge
ProfessionBarrister, Judge

Tun Mohamed Suffian bin Mohamed Hashim (12 November 1917 – 26 September 2000) was a Malaysian judge, eventually serving as Lord President of the Federal Court from 1974 to 1982.[1] He had previously served as Chief Justice of Malaya.

Tun Suffian was born in 1917 in Kota Lama Kiri, a small village on the banks of Sungai Perak near Kuala Kangsar and went to the Malay School, Lenggong and Clifford School, Kuala Kangsar, before going to England on a Queen's scholarship in 1936.[2]

During World War II, unable to return home from England because of the Japanese Occupation, he worked as a news broadcaster and commentator with the All-India Radio, New Delhi, and later with the BBC in London where he acquired an interest in current affairs and in lucid writing.[2]


Tun Suffian read law at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge before becoming a member of Middle Temple. He also held an honorary LL.D. from the National University of Singapore and an honorary D.Litt. from University of Malaya.


Suffian was widely regarded as a respected judicial figure who was a fierce defender of judiciary's independence.[3] He never flinched from his criticism of the destruction of what was once a well-regarded judiciary in Malaysia, primarily by the then prime minister, Mahathir Mohamed. In private he took to referring to Mahathir as "Papa Doc", after the Haitian dictator.[4]

1982 Braddell Memorial Lecture

When speaking of the Malaysian judiciary to a Singapore audience he said:[5]

In a multi-racial and multi-religious society like yours and mine, while we judges cannot help being Malay or Chinese or Indian; or being Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu or whatever, we strive not to be too identified with any particular race or religion – so that nobody reading our judgment with our name deleted could with confidence identify our race or religion, and so that the various communities, especially minority communities, are assured that we will not allow their rights to be trampled underfoot.

1988 Judicial crisis

A one-sided public tribunal ratified the sacking of Tun Salleh, while a second tribunal removed two of the senior judges from office. Few Malaysians dared speak out, but Suffian, to whom many turned for an impartial opinion, did not hold back. He said[4]

"Those who stand by and do nothing to protect the independence of the judiciary, will in the end get the judiciary they deserve - one powerless to stand between them and tyranny."

Suffian had a long association with the Constitution of Malaysia, first with its drafting and then with its operation as a member of the Legal Department, and finally with its interpretation from 1961 when he was elevated to the bench of the Federal Court.

He had served as the Pro-Chancellor of University of Malaya.


Personal life

Suffian married, in 1946, Dora Evelina ("Bunny") Grange (d.1997), an English farmer's daughter whom he had met at Cambridge in 1939.[4] He had no children of his own.


He died on 26 September 2000 and was buried at the Al-Ghufran Royal Mausoleum near Ubudiah Mosque in Kuala Kangsar, Perak.


Honours of Malaysia

Foreign honours

Magsaysay Award


  1. ^ "Mantan Ketua Hakim Negara | Portal Rasmi Pejabat Ketua Pendaftar Mahkamah Persekutuan Malaysia". (in Malay). Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b "THE LATE TUN SUFFIAN: A Tribute to Malaysia's Greatest Judicial Figure". The Malaysian Bar. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  3. ^ Pillai, M. G. G. (16 October 2000). "Obituaries: Mohamed Suffian". the Guardian. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "Tun Mohamed Suffian". The Daily Telegraph. 27 September 2000. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  5. ^ "Four Decades in the Law—Looking Back" in The Constitution of Malaysia: Further Perspectives. Oxford University Press. 1986. p. 215.
  6. ^ "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1975" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Sultan Pahang telah mengurniakan bintang! kebesaran dan gelaran kapada 105 orang sempena hari keputeraan Baginda pada hari Sabtu lalu". Berita Harian. 22 September 1969. p. 10.
  8. ^ "SPCM 1978".
  9. ^ "2 Malayans honoured". The Straits Budget. 30 September 1959. p. 17.
  10. ^ "Suffian, Tun Mohammed bin Hashim • The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation • Honoring greatness of spirit and transformative leadership in Asia". Retrieved 25 August 2018.