About this segment: Alumnus of the Month is an initiative by the University of Malaya Law Review which aims to feature a prominent alumnus of the University of Malaya’s Law Faculty. The purpose of this segment is two-fold. First, to give due recognition to the contributions of our alumni and second, so that their remarkable achievements might inspire other members of the faculty towards greater successes.
Puteri Eleni Binti Megat Osman, Alumnus of the Faculty of Law, University Malaya.
Despite her graduation in 2015, the name Puteri Eleni Binti Megat Osman, or more fondly known as Puteri, never really left the halls of the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya (UM) up until today. A renowned student, mooter and leader during her years here, Puteri is known for her excellent academic track record and her outstanding achievements in the mooting scene. She also served as the President of the Asian Law Students’ Association (ALSA) for the 2013/2014 tenure. Now, Puteri serves as a legal associate at Khazanah National Berhad.
Puteri was a kid who loved comic books and had an opinion on just about everything. “I remember being very coarse and not being able to articulate my words well so it just made me annoying. Haha. However, that didn’t stop me from taking every opportunity that I had to voice my opinions out about things.” Describing herself as “Batgirl”, Puteri was an active debater and took part in numerous public speaking competitions during her secondary school years. She further channelled her love for writing by taking part in multiple essay writing competitions as well.
Enrolling in the Faculty of Law was a no-brainer for Puteri as she always enjoyed discussing about local and global societal issues. Puteri also finds human interaction an interesting concept to study, especially from a legal point of view. "I loved how there should never really be a black and white answer for matters like these. Societal issues are just so fluid and cloudy and every opinion had its own value. Before law school, apart from debate tournaments, I didn’t really have a proper place or a group of people who I could do this with, i.e. discuss and debate on societal issues and share my opinions with. Law gave me a whole career path for it, which was, AWESOME.” Puteri also did not fail to mention her hatred towards Mathematics, which was a minute reason as to why she chose to pursue a career in law.
Puteri, with her Championship and Best Oralist trophy at the 2013 KLRCA Novice Arbitration Moot Competition (NAMCO).
Her appearance in the Faculty’s mooting field was rather unconventional. While most students join mooting to hone their advocacy skills, Puteri however, decided to join mooting to cure her emotional pain. As she recalls it, she was at a low point in her life, depressed, and was looking for something to distract her from the pain. Her main goal was to pursue something that reminded her of what she was worth and try to be herself again. Hence, she decided to participate in the 2012 Internal Moot Competition (IMC) in the start of second year, viewing it as an opportunity to find herself again through mooting. She managed to snag the best oralist award that year. Realising how good winning felt pushed her to enter more moot competitions. This sparked the streak of success in Puteri’s mooting journey.
Puteri was selected to be a part of the UM team in the 2013 KLRCA Novice Arbitration Moot Competition (NAMCO). Puteri and her teammates won the Championship Title, where Puteri was awarded as the Best Oralist for the Final Round. In the same year, she also bagged the Best Oralist Award in the UM-NUS Friendly Moot Competition 2013.
Hungry for more success, Puteri then signed up for the 2014 Phillip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. The team was crowned National Champion and qualified to represent Malaysia at Washington D.C., United States of America. There, Puteri raked her own personal achievement – she ranked 41st in the Overall Oralist Ranking out of hundreds of other oralists from all over the world.
“Winning Best Oralist for all those moot competitions slowly reminded me of how much control I had over my fate, emotions and willpower. It drove me to be better. Moot competitions saved me from the dark depths of myself.”
Puteri (right), and her teammates, National Champion of the 2014 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Competition.
Although her mooting journey has brought her to many places; Singapore, New York and Washington D.C., to name a few, her favourite place that her mooting journey has brought her to would be her husband’s heart. Puteri met her husband, a UiTM mooter, at the 2012 ALSA Moot Competition. Puteri, part of the organising committee then, felt that things just clicked between the two of them. Although never having mooted against each other before, Puteri believes that if it was not for mooting, she would have never met her true love. “Don’t worry. Even if we were to ever be against each other in a moot competition, I’d make sure UM would win. Hahaha!”
For Puteri, the secret for her balance between studying and mooting was that she was a “precrastinator”. She was a person who was always anxious to complete everything as soon as possible. She would finish reading all the necessary case laws and writing all her exam notes before the end of the first half of the semester. This was her way of ensuring that the second half of the semester would be fully focussed on her moot competitions. She concedes that it was a bit extreme but for her, the reward at the end (winning all those mooting trophies) was so much more worthwhile. Now, in the corporate world however, she is forced to multi-task. “I wish working was as easy as studying where you get a proforma at the start of the year, you know what you’ll be examined on and you can prepare for it beforehand. In the working world, work comes whenever it wants and you just have to complete it there and then.” To this, she told us how she has learned to reply emails, do laundry and review agreements at the same time.
Puteri, as the President of the Asian Students' Law Association (ALSA), University of Malaya Chapter.
Besides balancing academics as well as mooting, Puteri was also involved in a myriad of activities in the faculty. She was President of ALSA, as well as Treasurer of numerous societies – the UM Moot Club (2014-2015), Malaya Mock Trial (2013-2014) and the Community Outreach Programme (2012-2013). Her athletic side also shone during the Faculty’s Family Week each year, when she took part in futsal, but her favourite sports is Taekwondo which she also has a black belt in. For the young, driven and energetic Puteri, she was interested in what she could learn and gain from the other societies offered by the Faculty. Her university days were filled with bucketloads of activities not only in the Faculty, but also in activities by the 12th Residential College. She participated in various college activities such as the Theatre Club and FRENSTER. She also maximised her semester breaks to become a volunteer tutor at a nearby orphanage. Today, she wishes she has more free time on her hands to go and volunteer again.
When asked what she would do differently if she had to repeat law school, Puteri said that she wishes she could have been more understanding and kinder to certain people, throughout her time in law school. For Puteri, “When people do bad things to you, you tend to despise them and believe that they don’t deserve any form of goodness this world has to offer. Now that I’m more mature, I realize they must have been pretty messed up and misunderstood to have done something like that to you.” To her, if she had been much nicer and more forgiving, she would have lessened the stress she endured during law school.
To those who want to venture into the world of mooting, Puteri advises that they should learn to bond with their teammates. For Puteri, knowing the law alone and being able to present the arguments is insufficient to win the tournament. She believes that every judge instantly knows when a team is disconnected and not united. “Have your mamak sessions together; have your classes together and most importantly, fight! Bicker amongst yourself and argue too. If you’re dissatisfied with a team member, voice it out. Don’t hide anything amongst yourselves. That’s how you guys become more than a team; you become a mini family.”
After law school, Puteri went on to be part of the Perdana Fellowship Programme, under the Prime Minister’s Office, before completing her pupillage in Zul Rafique and Partners. During her experience in the Perdana Fellowship Programme, Puteri interned with former Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak. Puteri was tasked with writing his speeches, and Puteri recalled that he was very nice to her during their few encounters. Through this experience, Puteri learned a lot about politics and also gained exposure to issues faced by the country foreign to many. Puteri strongly recommends that everybody should try their hand at the Perdana Fellowship Programme.
She was then awarded the Khazanah Global Scholarship by Khazanah National Berhad to do her Masters in Law in the London School of Economics (LSE), United Kingdom. “I want to go back to London!! Take me baaaccckkkk.” Her education in LSE broadened her mind to a myriad of global legal issues and she believes everyone should try to snag a masters overseas if the opportunity comes their way. “Learning law overseas was truly a different experience. You will be introduced to so many different points of views because all your classmates come from different legal systems and cultures. LSE was really the best thing that has happened in my life… oh yeah, and marriage. Marriage was cool too.”
Puteri has one important piece of advice to law students. In facing difficulties, always be mindful that whenever hardship comes in the way, one will always be able to get through the hurdle. Amongst some of the Quranic verses that she strongly lives by is “On no soul doth Allah Place a burden greater than it can bear.” [Quran, 2:286]. This is a verse that she always recites whenever she faces moments of difficulties. “Law school… especially UM Law School can be tough. UM students are crazy competitive (amongst each other and against outsiders) and the exams and assignments can sometimes be draining. But know that God put you on this path because you are strong enough to face it. Always be kind to one another and remember your goal!”