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.
Lim Wei Jiet, an alumnus of the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya.
He may have graduated in 2014, but the name Lim Wei Jiet has become a household name to countless members of the Faculty, legal fraternity and society in general. Fondly known as Wei Jiet, he is recognised for his outstanding academic track record and his remarkable achievements within and without the Faculty. Now, Wei Jiet serves as a legal associate at Messrs Sreenevasan.
As a small town boy who grew up in the historical Muar, Wei Jiet took a great liking to reading, writing and presenting speeches. He was a proud product of a national school system—where he made tons of friends from all races, with a passion in the field of science. Apart from his academic interest, he was passionate in helping as many people as he could. This led him to his initial ambition of becoming a medical doctor as he knew, based on his family’s experience, how medical complications can affect and debilitate one's life.
Nonetheless, fate always has its way of intervening with one’s choices in life. Wei Jiet’s perspective changed drastically when he was midway through his pre-university education. He began to indulge himself in writings on abuse of power, deprivation of human rights, social injustices, the class divide and the crumbling of the rule of law in Malaysia. He soon realised that he felt a burning desire to join the fight for a better Malaysia. Inspired by the trailblazing success of the ‘Tiger of Jelutong’, Karpal Singh, and to cater to his newfound calling, it only seemed logical for him to practice law. He added, “If you are a doctor, you can help a person in need but if you are a lawyer, you can help a person in need AND teach the perpetrator a lesson by dragging him to court. So why not be a lawyer, right?”
Wei Jiet submitting in front of judges.
He humbled himself when it comes to his mooting achievements but Wei Jiet stated that his attraction to mooting started in the wake of a simple reasoning which is to hone the three most essential skills required of a lawyer: research, writing and oral advocacy, as no other extracurricular activity combines these three skills. He started off by participating in the Internal Moot Competition in 2011 where he successfully garnered the Best Oralist Award. This achievement was the catalyst in his rise to prominence amongst the legal fraternity.
In 2012, Wei Jiet represented the University of Malaya (‘UM’) in the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration - Novice Arbitration Moot Competition (‘NAMCO’), where his team emerged victorious. He was also awarded Best Speaker of the final round of NAMCO 2012. He then braved himself to participate in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Competition in 2013.
Wei Jiet opined that law students should be encouraged to join mooting and that mastering mooting will put anyone in a stronger footing for a career as a lawyer because employers put mooters on a higher pedestal during the selection process. Throughout his time as a mooter, he managed to grasp a few paramount lessons which not only helped him during his years of study but also in his working life: the ability to think on your feet, the craft of dealing with difficult judges, the importance of practice as a means to excel in anything, the value of effective teamwork, and the capacity to deal with failure and to regain composure whenever it hits you.
Wei Jiet (second from right) with his teammates and other debating participants.
Aside from his involvement in mooting, Wei Jiet was also heavily involved in debates. He was not only the captain of UM’s English Debate team, but also took part in multiple distinguished debating competitions in the world. His outstanding list of achievements include winning the Minister of Education Cup 2014 where, similar to his outstanding mooting repertoire, he was also awarded as the Best Speaker. He ventured into more debating competitions that year and participated in the Global Debate & Public Policy Challenge 2014 where he brought home the title of World Champion. This capped off a remarkable year for Wei Jiet. He further reinforced himself in the debating arena when he managed to finish off as a Semi-Finalist (ESL Category) in the World Universities Debating Championship 2014.
Wei Jiet (middle in white shirt) holding a trophy and prize money after winning the Minister of Education Cup in 2014.
To him, debating offers a totally distinct worldview as one will not be confined to the four corners of a statute or case list. Topics ranging from economics, politics and even popular culture can be debated on in spite of existing laws which may be for or against an issue. He stated, in the capacity of a person who did both competitive mooting and debating, that competitive debating is spontaneous in nature in contrast with mooting where one is evaluated based on how measured, sober, and analytical he or she is when dealing with the issue at hand. He added a disclaimer, “If you are a person who is genuinely interested at the vagaries of the world and is excited about the fast pace of current events, debating may be for you. It doesn’t make mooting any less fun and rewarding—ultimately, it is a matter of preference.”
Seeing that he has numerous involvements outside of the Faculty, Wei Jiet was made to be even more impressive as he paired all the extracurricular achievements with an incredible academic feat. He was a Tun Mohamed Suffian Foundation Scholar and a Dean’s Lister throughout his time at the Faculty. When asked about tips on how to cope and excel, he puts emphasis on preparation before going to lectures; one is to read up and try to grasp the basic concepts of a subject. Besides, drafting notes is also his go-to tip as he stated that a well-drafted note, read during the last two weeks before exams, makes all the difference. “Everybody has their own style. As for me, I condensed every chapter into a single side of an A4 paper and read through it, over-and-over again,” he explained. Last but not least, he advised students to be aware of what makes lecturers tick and be creative in handling the facts of a case. Give the examiners what they want on a silver platter with gold handles.
Wei Jiet (third from left) during his long call ceremony.
After law school, as mentioned earlier, Wei Jiet became an associate at Messrs Sreenevasan. He came to a realisation that being a lawyer is very different from studying law. He credited his mentors who have provided him much-needed advice where he stated, “you have to design strategies, develop an acute understanding of commercial realities and be willing to sacrifice (a lot of) time to hone your craft.” Still believing his original vision when he decided to try out this field of study, he tries his best to contribute to the legal fraternity and society. In the process of doing so, he became the Deputy Chairperson of the Bar Council Constitutional Law Committee, Secretary-General of the National Human Rights Society (HAKAM), Malaysia’s National Representative to the International Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Committee (IBA-YLC) and a member of the National Youth Consultative Council.
Wei Jiet (second from the left) as a panel for a forum regarding ICC.
In giving advice to those who are about to graduate, Wei Jiet quoted an American psychologist, Angela Lee Duckworth’s universal answer to success, “Grit is simply the power of passion and perseverance. Talent, luck or having a good boss is never permanent—but grit is timeless. You must have the mental and emotional strength to, after the 4th night in a row cursing at your office printer at 2am, pick yourself up and say ‘It’s okay. Tomorrow is a new day. Let’s move ahead.’” He also reminded everyone to not let the mundane routine of life bury that spark within a person and to enjoy every opportunity of freedom granted before work life kicks in. “Almost everybody regrets not spending more time to pause, breathe and enjoy the kaleidoscope of young adult life,” he stated with a tinge of sombreness. Finally, always stand up for what is just and right. Too many people in society have gotten away with crimes committed based on self-interest, greed and irrational hate, destroying our beloved country.
Wei Jiet (middle) on a trip to Mount Rushmore.
If given the ability to turn back time, Wei Jiet has one advice to his young self: “Bro, have better time management. You could really save a few heartaches and disappointments.” As for his life motto, he constantly tells himself “to never lose sight of my Ikigai (a reason for being).” When asked to sum himself up in one word, he replied "Neutral Good - think Gandalf, Qui-Gon Jinn and Captain Kirk.” Channelling his inner starship captain, he stated, “I am very much an idealist at heart. I believe a system of law is vital to achieve good, but I won’t hesitate to break a few for the greater good.”
Written by Karim Ariez.