Tan Sri Datuk Professor Ahmad Ibrahim


Tan Sri Datuk Professor Ahmad Ibrahim B.A., M.A., LLD. a.k.a. Ahmad bin Mohamed Ibrahim (b. 12 May 1916 Singapore - d. 17 April, 1999, Gombak, Malaysia). Educated at Victoria Bridge School, Raffles Institution, Raffles College, and Cambridge University where he graduated with first class honours in economics and law. Appointed a Singapore Magistrate in 1946, District Judge and Magistrate in 1955, he became Singapore's first State Advocate General in 1959, and Singapore's first Attorney-General in 1966. He was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (LL.D) from the University of Singapore on 5 June 1965. Known to the law fraternity as an expert on Muslim law, he drafted the Administration of Muslim Law Act which revamped the Syariah Court's jurisdiction, and established the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore. From 1969 he worked in Malaysia as Professor of Legal Studies at the Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya, next as Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya, and then as Sheikh and Dean, Kulliyyah of Laws, International Islamic University, Malaysia.

Early life
Born in Singapore on 12 May 1916, he was educated at Victoria Bridge School, Raffles Institution and Raffles College Singapore, where in 1935, he graduated with an Honours London Bachelor of Arts, External degree. In 1936, he won a Queen's Scholarship, to study at St. John's College, Cambridge University, which he completed in 1939, with first class honours in Economics Tripos I, and Law Tripos II, and graduated with a B.A. (Cantab). While at Cambridge, he won the George Long Prize for Roman Law, and was exhibitioner, scholar and McMahon Law student of St. John's College. He obtained the Certificate of Honour, in the Bar Final exams, Middle Temple, London. Was called to Bar Middle Temple in November 1941.

Career highlights
1946 : Became a Magistrate in Singapore.
1947 : Made a District Judge.
1948 : Left Civil Service, became a Law lecturer at Raffles College.
1949 - 1955 : In private practice and served as Municipal Commissioner, and was a member of the Rural Board.
28 February 1955 : Appointed District Judge and Magistrate and returned to the Civil Service.
1956 : Made Crown Counsel and Deputy Public Prosecutor.
1959-1963 : Singapore's first State Advocate General
1963-1969 : Singapore's first Attorney-General
1965 : Master of Arts degree, Cambridge.
5 June 1965 : Awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (LL.D) from the then University of Singapore (today's National University of Singapore.
1966 : Drafted The Administration of Muslim Law Act which revamped the Syariah Court's jurisdiction, and established the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS).
1967 : Senior Crown Counsel
1967 : Singapore's Ambassador to the United Arab Republic, and Singapore's Ambassador to the Republic of Egypt
1968 : As the Finance Ministry's legal consultant, his name came up in Parliament when a Member of Parliament questioned why Professor Ahmad was paid more as a legal consultant than a Cabinet minister. Dr Goh Keng Swee, who was then Finance Minister, replied that Professor Ahmad was a legal authority of international eminence. His high remuneration was aimed at keeping him there.
1969 : Resigned from the Singapore Government after 22 years service. He wanted to work in Malaysia and joined a Kuala Lumpur law firm.
1969-1972 : Professor of Legal Studies at the Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya
1972-1983 : Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya
1983-1999 : Sheikh and Dean, Kulliyyah of Laws, International Islamic University, Malaysia.
1984 : Professor Emeritus, University of Malaya
7-9 August 1998 : Attended the 2nd International Islamic Unity Conference at Washington, D.C., as Tan Sri Datuk bin Mohamed Ibrahim, LL.D., Dean of the Faculty of Law, International Islamic University, Malaysia.

Vital contributions
He was a key player in the merger talks between Singapore and Malaysia in the early 1960s.  He was also the legal expert in the Singapore delegation to the Malaysia Talks in London in 1963 which discussed independence from the British.

Former Senior Cabinet minister Dr. Goh Keng Swee, once described him as a man of "tremendous breadth and depth of intellect, whose ability as a legal draftsman is unsurpassed in this country".

Awards
5 June 1965 : Awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (LL.D) from the then University of Singapore (today's National University of Singapore.
Malaysia Awards
1974 : Johan Mangku Negara (J.M.N) was presented by His Majesty the Yang Dipertuan Agong of Malaysia.
1979 : Darjah Yang Mulia Pangkuan Negara (D.M.P.N) with the title of Datuk, given by the Yang Dipertua Negeri of Pulau Pinang
1979 : Received the Allama Muhammad Iqbal Medal from the Government of Pakistan.
1987 : Panglima Setia Mahkota (PSM) by His Majesty the Yang Dipertuan Agong, with the title of Tan Sri.
1989 : Maal Hijrah Award
1992 : Tun Razak Award

Family
Ahmad Ibrahim came from a religious family.
Father: Mohamed Ibrahim, who was a very active in Islamic social and welfare activities.
Wife : Puan Sri Salmah Mohamed Tahir.
Children: Nine.

Death
Tan Sri Datuk Professor Ahmad Ibrahim, aged 82, died of a heart attack at his home in Gombak, Malaysia, early 17 April 1999.

Tributes
President S.R. Nathan, who was former Director of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, remembered being taught by Professor Ahmad in one law course. They met again during President Nathan's term as Singapore's High Commissioner to Malaysia in the late 1980s. President Nathan described him as friendly and approachable, and that "He wrote very well. He was very clinical in his approach and modern in his outlook."

Maarof Salleh, President of The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) described the news of Professor Ahmad's passing as a shock, saying "He has contributed a lot to the Muslim community in Singapore".

Ahmad Ibrahim, the politician
There is another famous Ahmad Ibrahim, leading to many instances of confusion over these two personalities, especially when both played important roles in the development of Singapore. Older Singaporeans identify Professor Ahmad as Singapore's first Attorney-General. Whereas the other Ahmad Ibrahim was a politician and once a Minister of Labour, and then Minister of Health in Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's Government.  This latter Ahmad Ibrahim was whom Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim and Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School are named after.

Books written or co-authored by Professor Ahmad
.
There are at least twenty books authored by Prof. Ahmad in the National Library.
Islamic law in Malaysia. [S.l. : s.n., 195-?].
(Call no.: R SEA q348.97 AHM)

The legal status of the Muslims in Singapore (1965). Singapore: Malayan Law Journal.
(Call no.: R SING 342.087 AHM)

Muslims in Singapore. [1965?]. 
(Call no.: RCA q342.087 AHM)

Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura. (1998). Jawatankuasa Fatwa. "Kumpulan fatwa". Singapura: Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
(Call no.: R Malay 340.59 MAJ)

Income tax case law of Malaysia and Singapore (Vol. 1). (1984). Singapore: Malayan Law Journal Pte. Ltd.
(Call no.: RSING 343.5957052AHM)

Pentadbiran undang-undang Islam di Malaysia. [1997]. [Kuala Lumpur]: IKIM
(R Malay 340.5909595 AHM)

Ahmad Ibrahim & Ahilemah Joned. (1995). The Malaysian legal system. Kuala Lumpur : Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kementerian Pendidikan, Malaysia. (Call no.: RSEA 349.595 AHM)

 Ahmad Ibrahim, et al. (Eds.). (1999). Perkembangan undang-undang Perlembagaan Persekutuan. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. 
(Call no.: Malay R 342.59502 PER)

The administration of Islamic law in Malaysia. (2000). Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia.
(Call no.: R 340.5909595 AHM)



Author
Vernon Cornelius-Takahama, 2001



References
The Who's who in Malaysia (p. 16). (1963). Kuala Lumpur: Solai Press.
(Call no.: RCLOS 920.0595 WWM)

Singapore Establishment Staff List (p. 14) [Microfilm: NL 7922]. [1955]. Singapore: Government Printing Office.
(Call no.: RCLOS 354.5957002)

S'pore's first A-G dies at 82. (1999, April 18). The Straits Times, Prime News, p. 2. 



The information in this article is valid as at 2001 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Personalities>>Biographies>>Pioneers
Ahmad Mohamed Ibrahim, 1916-1999
Judges--Singapore--Biography
Attorneys general--Singapore--Biography
Law and government>>Public administration

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