Contributed by the National Young Lawyers Committee
“Sign up for the Young Lawyers Convention NOW!”
Ummi was admitted to the Malaysian Bar on 20 July 2005. A graduate of UiTM, she practises in the area of general litigation in Kedah. She attended the recently concluded Malaysian Law Conference, and is encouraging others to attend the Young Lawyers Convention in Penang from 18–20 January 2008. Teo Nie Ching interviewed her.
What did you think about the 14th Malaysian Law Conference in general?
Since this was the first time attending the MLC, I think it was very impressive. From the venue itself, to the VVIPs who attended the Conference, and the interesting topics discussed right to the food – it was perfect. The Conference was quite well managed and I like the fact that transportation to the venue was easy.
Why did you want to attend the MLC?
The first time the Kedah/Perlis State Bar Committee issued a circular on the MLC, it attracted me right away. The previous participants of the Conference told me how the Conference could change my perceptions and make me a better lawyer. I also realised by attending the Conference that it would open my mind and add knowledge from the sessions I would attend. My confidence level also improved and I was able to mix around with participants from various walks of life in a comfortable environment.
Which were the two outstanding sessions and why?
Being asked such a question, I would say the sessions on ‘Freedom of Religion’ and ‘Freedom of Expression in the Arts – A Theatrical Illusion?’ The former was a very interesting one. No doubt, the issue is sensitive and seldom being discussed at large. At the Conference however, the issue was discussed among the participants openly. It showed that we as the lay public are ready to discuss it maturely without any arguments taking place. Not just that, a big applause should be given to the speakers as well. They were not only good but they managed to tackle the issues wisely. Great issues coupled with great speakers made this session an interesting one. As speakers from various organisations were invited, the issue could be dealt with openly and queries were answered satisfactorily. The latter session was interesting in its own way. As lawyers, we undoubtedly are fully aware of the very fact that freedom of expression is guaranteed under the Constitution. However, freedom of expression in the arts is in my opinion seldom brought up. Attending the session made one realise that being an artist is not I might say a ‘glamorous’ job to have. For instance, from the speakers themselves, we know that there are many obstacles ahead which await them before their movies, plays and acts may be released to the public. I don’t think many of us are aware of this fact and it is because we never look at it closely unlike other forms of expression guaranteed under the Constitution. Answering the question – freedom of expression in the arts is merely a theatrical illusion!
How was the organisation of the MLC?
The organisers managed the Conference quite well. Signs were well–placed. The volunteers were very helpful and they were well–prepared to answer any inquiries from the participants. Even though there were many people attending the Conference, the registration process was very systematic and didn’t take a long time.
Any suggestions for the future?
Although the Conference was successfully ended, I still think there is room for improvement in terms of time management. For example, I found myself rushing in and out of sessions because the gap between them was too short. The organisers need to estimate the time better taking the number of participants into consideration.
I was disappointed because I didn’t manage to attend every topic since some of them overlapped. For example, I had wanted to attend the ‘Dealing with Electronic Evidence’ by Vincents Chartered Accountants, Australia session, but at the same time I also wanted to be part of the ‘Freedom of Religion’ session. It is such a loss when interesting topics are held at the same time. Another disappointment was the bad time management. Since I had to rush around, I started to lose my focus and all the rushing made me a bit tired. I also found that the lunch break didn’t take into consideration time for the Muslims to pray and have a break at the same time.
Did you benefit from the MLC?
I definitely benefited from the MLC. Not only did I gain knowledge, I also learnt how to change the way I think on several issues. With that, I am able to communicate confidently and mix around with various people regardless of their backgrounds. I was also able to exchange thoughts with other participants. I am a totally new person with a great deal of information at hand when the Conference ended.
The 3rd Young Lawyers Convention is coming soon. Will you be taking part in the Convention and what do you expect from it?
Of course! Attending such a Convention is an opportunity for a young lawyer like me not to miss. I believe that the Convention will be interesting especially when recent issues, topics or problems concerning the young lawyers are discussed. It will definitely broaden one’s knowledge and this is what matters most for young lawyers who should be fully equipped with broad knowledge. Apart from that, attending the Convention would also mean that we will get to know lawyers from all over the country and this will help in creating a stronger bond among ourselves.
Looking at the schedule, which session are you most interested in?
I am most interested in Session 4, ‘Standing Out in a Crowded Profession’ because I believe that the session will surely help me to establish and differentiate myself from other lawyers. Another reason why I am interested in this session is because the format is in a more relaxed mode and points are easier taken.
How do you think we young lawyers are able to stand out in a crowded profession?
As a young lawyer, I know I am not able to compete with experienced lawyers now. However, I do believe I can still stand out in a crowded profession by differentiating myself and showing my capabilities to do better. I always believed that knowledge is a most powerful of tools. By improving my knowledge in the field as well as my general knowledge, I think it would help me stand out. To do that, it is a must for me to keep updating myself on current issues. Getting involved in community activities is also beneficial because the type of knowledge gained is quite different. I also believe that by acquiring sufficient knowledge on IT and ICT issues, this would surely be an advantage. I urge everyone to sign up for the Convention!
What are your comments on the recent BERSIH rally?
I felt they were just trying to express their own disappointment on how the Election Commission conducted the general elections. They made demands for equal access and to ensure that accusations are no longer made about the elections being unfair. It is a commendable effort since accusations are the last thing voters want to hear during elections. Lies are difficult to counter. If the Government granted these demands made by BERSIH, less misunderstanding will occur. I also believe that linking the King to the demonstration was appropriate and a smart move by BERSIH. Although the King has no executive powers, I still believe the King’s advice to the Prime Minister is an act which represents public opinion. However, I felt sorry for the passengers of the LRT who received no warning of the new route, KL Sentral straight to Dang Wangi which was changed by the authorities in an attempt to make it more difficult for people to reach the rally area. I agreed with the suggestion made by Tunku Abdul Aziz in treating the BERSIH group differently compared to other illegal protesters since the organisers of the BERSIH rally had ordered the assembly to be a peaceful one at all times.
From the Walk for Justice, BERSIH Rally to the HINDRAF one, do you think assemblies and processions are an effective way of expressing the peoples’ desires?
Yes, they will definitely get the attention required and directly, the issues will spread through the media, to society and the Government as well as to foreign governments. Rallies may be considered an effective ‘marketing strategy’ performed by the organisers. However, news was not spread widely in the local media and newspapers as if they were not important events. The foreign media such as Al–Jazeera covered the event with detailed videos, and ground and satellite images while BBC and CNN featured the news in their online papers as well. Internet savvy Malaysians turn to the alternative media where online news discussed the rallies in full force to answer the void left by our local media.
When most, if not all the local media and newspapers are being indirectly or directly controlled by the Government, do you think the organisers had successfully conveyed the message to the people outside the city?
I do think the organisers successfully conveyed the message, but I disagree with this action. There are better ways for it to be done, and the Government should be more open in hearing out public opinion. Message conveyed through these organisations are often exaggerated and more of personal and emotional statements. For the people outside the city, they need to analyse the message conveyed and take note only of rational statements.
The Government used various methods to prevent or discourage people from attending the rallies. What do you think our Government was afraid of?
When there is a rally there must be something wrong somewhere. But I do believe that the Government only emphasised the aspect of peace in our country. Whenever there is a rally, society might receive uncertain information. Therefore, if such thing was to happen, it is difficult for the Government to maintain peace in our country. Nevertheless, our Government also needs to listen to the opposition parties or those involved in the rallies before their ideas turn into demands. As an Islamic country, we always believe in “musyawwarah” or discussion in order to allow every opinion to be heard and considered. Maybe this is the best action for our Government to adopt, to discuss and reveal the truth to the public.
Do you think the use of tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds was justifiable?
For me, the use of water cannons is acceptable but I certainly disagree with the use of tear gas. There is no need to harm ‘unclear–minded’ citizens. When the truth is revealed, they will calm themselves and think rationally. The use of tear gas might also jeopardise their health.
Three more public rallies are expected to be held in the Klang Valley streets next month. Do you think this is a good trend?
These rallies are definitely not a good trend. It affects not only the harmony of the citizens but also the economic growth of the nation. Thousands of people were stranded due to the rescheduling of transportation, offices and businesses were closed and a great deal of money was wasted to repair the damage caused. I also feel that these rallies bring shame to this country. We have always live peacefully regardless of the different races and with these rallies, foreigners might have different views opposed to what we have been promoting.
Other YL Personalities:
Mohd Taufik Bin
Goh Chuan Chean
Hemalatha Parasa Ramulu
Kho Yieng San
Ng Li Lin
Karthigesan a/l Shanmugam
Juna Binti Jusoh
Albert Ding Choo Earn
Sulaiman Bin Abu Bakar
Nasdrul Umur Bin Shamsulhuda
Sandesh Kabir Singh
Edelina Sophia Binti Sophian Pulle
Mohd Busyairy Bin Che Muda
Wong Fook Meng
Fadiah Nadwa Fikri
Lee Chooi Peng
Angeline Cheah Yin Leng
Mishant a/l Thiruchelvam
Shahrizal Bin Mohd Zin
Rezalman B. Bahran
Gavin Tang Cheng Loong
Noreen Ahmad Ariff
Nadia Ashikin binti Maduarin
David Dinesh Mathew
Nizam Bashir Bin Abdul Kariem Bashir
Amer Hamzah Bin Arshad
Ernie Suffiani Binti Salim
Ahmad Syukri Bin Yusoff
Dipendra Harshad Rai
Soo Wee Loon
Aminuddin bin Abdullah