I used to be angry and that gave me the passion to study harder, to try and be a lawyer who does something great for humanity, if not for her country.
But over the years, the anger turned into sadness, and then finally, into a vacuum of apathy.
Every day, we try very hard to live in a system that is being misused and abused, sometimes even at the expense of our fundamental liberties – our human rights; rights inherent to us as humans. Far too many people get bullied into thinking that this is all there is and all there will ever be.
I was sick of it all and I had yet to even start legal practice.
So when I finished Bar school in September 2007, I planned to stay on to experience working life in the UK. I knew the Malaysian Judiciary was in a mess. In fact, I thought that the entire legal profession was in stupor and that justice could never exist in my home.
Then one day a friend sent me an offline message. She said, “Oh my God. Read the news. Your loyars here are marching to the Prime Minister’s office!”
When I started reading the news, the words did not quite make sense to me:
“Lawyers walking for change!”
“JUDICIAL REFORM IN MALAYSIA!”
“When lawyers walk, something must be very wrong.”
“The Malaysian Bar – Walking for Justice” …
Well, while I sat there in my chair wrapped in ten layers of cotton and wool, hoping that something wonderful would fall onto my lap, the lawyers back in my country were walking under tropical rain and marching on for a revolution in the Malaysian justice system.
I watched the YouTube videos a few days after, and then I saw the then President of the Malaysian Bar giving her speech at the Walk.
I thought, wow, the moment I was waiting for ever since I started reading law had just come and gone; and I had done absolutely nothing to be part of that monumental occasion. Instead I had chosen to find a better life elsewhere – far, far away from everything and everyone I knew.
I watched this lawyer-mother-wife try to lead a band of people under the rain calling on the Malaysian Government to act against corruption and clean up the justice system. She was calm and assertive at the same time; it was confusing and perplexing!
What the hell were these people doing, I thought to myself very quietly.
It has been more than 3 years. Shortly after 8 March 2008, I returned to Malaysia. I met many brilliant and fearless lawyers who continue to defend justice and equality relentlessly, who seek to protect the welfare of everyone, and not just for their own interest or those of their clients.
I saw the legal profession come alive before my very eyes. And I thought, damn. I wish I was standing there right next to them, where it all began.
On 9 July 2011, the very same woman who stood in the rain over 3 years ago will be leading a tide of Malaysians in a rally to tell the Government that we are not happy with the manner in which our electoral process is being conducted; and that we are not happy with money politics, corruption and nepotism.
We want the Government of Malaysia to be rid of its attitude of complacency. We are sick of being told to just shut up and listen. We want the future leaders of our country to know that while some of us may have been tranquilised by materialism, the rest of us actually care about the welfare of this nation and we want to have a fair and transparent voting mechanism. Nothing more, nothing less.
Ambiga Sreenevasan leading the movement for Malaysia’s electoral reform this time serves as a strong reminder of why I had decided to be a lawyer in the first place. It reaffirms my lost conviction that not all lawyers are self-centred, greedy, shallow stabs.
On 9 July 2011, I will mark a day in my life where I will be walking with one of the greatest lawyers ever, who will flood the streets of KL with her strong sense of justice and passion for the people of Malaysia. It takes someone who has everything to lose to champion democracy and justice without fear or favour. That’s guts.
** We need to have more lawyers on board to help with the arrests leading up to the day of the rally. It does not matter if you have no experience in criminal law and procedure – a brief training will be provided to those who want to help and are eager to learn something new. Please email [email protected] for further information. Please join us!
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