Role model : Judgement day
Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Siti Norma Yaakob has created history by becoming the first female judge to be appointed in the UAE.
As one of the six judges of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Court, Judge Yaakob has been entrusted with the task of upholding justice, respecting the laws of the land and discharging her duties without fear or favour.
Norma Yaakob is a respected member of the international legal community, having completed a long stint in judicial and legal service. Starting off as Malaysia’s first woman High Court judge, she moved up to be appointed as Court of Appeal Judge, Federal Court Judge and finally the Chief Judge of Malaya.
She retired in January 2007 after putting in more than 43 years of service.
When asked how it feels to be the first female judge at the DIFC Courts – and in the UAE – she said, "Personally I feel singularly honoured and proud by the appointment, and grateful for the confidence accorded to me."
Was she apprehensive?
"Initially I was a bit worried as to how the UAE would take to a woman sitting in judgement, particularly when she is a Muslim. I have now been proven wrong.
"Additionally, my country is also honoured by the recognition given to me and it will certainly contribute to closer ties between Malaysia and the UAE," she says.
And what about discrimination? "I used to get very upset when I heard gender-biased statements," she says. "But over the years, I have learnt to accept them and treat them as a challenge."
Norma Yaakob has a message of hope for female lawyers and judges in the UAE.
"Just continue with your hard work and the contribution you are making to the profession. It took Malaysia 26 years after independence to put a woman on the high court bench. Your track record will not continue to be overlooked. It will come to a head and when that happens, you will find an Arab woman elevated to the bench in the UAE," she says.
Norma Yaakob studied law in London. She has held many positions in Malaysia, including Senior Federal Counsel at Attorney General’s Chambers, President of the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur, Chief Registrar at the Federal Court, High Court Judge of Malaya and Judge of the Court Of Appeal of Malaysia.