About this segment: Person of the Month is an initiative by the University of Malaya Law Review which aims to feature a prominent member of the University of Malaya’s Law Faculty towards the end of each month. The purpose of this segment is twofold. Firstly, to give due recognition to the contributions of our student leaders and secondly, so that their achievements might inspire other members of the faculty towards greater success.
Rizq Nurrqausar Binti R M Bakri, a final year student in the Faculty of Law, University Malaya
Rizq Nurrqausar Binti R M Bakri, fondly known as Qausar, is a final year law student here in the University of Malaya. Qausar was born on 16 April 1997 in Perak and raised in Petaling Jaya as the eldest child in her family. Her love and passion of reading — particularly the non-fiction and self-help genres by Richard Templar and Haemin Sunim — is often complemented with Netflix’s much adored ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ series amongst others. Recognised for her humour and delicate side of sentimentality, Qausar is also gifted with the skills of baking ‘kek batik’, as affirmed by friends and acquaintances alike!
Looking back, Qausar never really imagined herself walking down the four-year-long brick road as a law student. Gazing at the chance to aid people in unraveling their emotional scars and trauma, the inspiring picture of being a psychiatrist was simply more appealing. However, like most law students, her fate with science was short-lived, given the need to master the complexity of never-ending calculations. Upon embarking on an enlightening journey filled with non-fiction books, it sparked her hidden interest in law and encouraged her to test the waters during her foundation studies. That led to her falling in love with the domains and versatility of law.
In the pursuit of a law degree, whilst enjoying a side of Greek yoghurt in the process, she realised her inclination was towards the judiciary. Granted that she is a good listener supplemented with insights acquired from her involvement in Clinical Legal Education programmes and substantive law, she aspires to be a fair, wise, and courageous judge in the near future. Drawing inspiration from the integrity of Dato Sri Hishamuddin Yunus and the representation brought forth by Malaysia’s first female Chief Justice, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Utama Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, Qausar is adamant in following their trailblazing footsteps.
Qausar alongside her fellow participants of the Cross-Border Street Law at Universitas Indonesia
Qausar dedicated her personal growth in law school to the Clinical Legal Education (CLE) programmes, specifically in the Community Outreach Programme (COP) and the Legal Aid Clinic (KBGUM). She started out as an active member of COP in her first year — completing her outbound requirement at Universitas Indonesia for a cross-border street law programme under the club. In her second year alone, her utter devotion not only won her the election as the secretary of the club, but also prized her the opportunity to be the director of COP’s inbound programme which was held during the same week of the 6th Asia Pro Bono Conference. Due to her constant commitment throughout the year, she was elected as the COP Director for the 2018/2019 tenure. Her main goal then was to create a welcoming environment within the club in order to better foster relationships between members. In achieving her goal, annual workshops and multiple team-building activities were organised to form the invulnerable bond between the club members which inevitably resulted in better cooperation and understanding. As the target audience of COP is mainly street children exposed to moral danger — largely from Yayasan Chow Kit, the KECHARA Soup Kitchen and children in conflict with the law from Sekolah Tunas Bakti — her constant engagement with children humbled her. However, none of this would have been attainable without the support and guidance from Datin Associate Professor Norbani (the Deputy Dean and COP’s Academic Advisor) and her committed board members.
Qausar and her team conducting Street Law via puppet shows at Pusat Aktiviti Kanak-Kanak under Yayasan Chow Kit.
Qausar has always been more than patient in derailing the misconceptions that are often associated with COP. As COP has an airtight policy which prohibits the publication of learners’ and children’s faces and identities in accordance with the Child Act 2001, it complicates the process of updating members of the faculty on COP’s milestones and activities. Exacerbating the issue, the language barrier also limits the participation of the student body. As the majority’s preferred language is English, many find it unsettling and inconvenient to adapt themselves to the strict confines of the Malay language solely for volunteering. Despite all the drawbacks, Qausar was determined to promote the exclusivity of COP by ensuring the success of its street law programme with applaudable consistency — distinguishing itself from other volunteering projects. To achieve this, COP went beyond the faculty to educate legal literacy amongst members of the society. Realising that justice should be accessible to all, Qausar has utmost faith that all her work, despite being taunted for lacking glamour and recognition, will make a difference to the society. As tedious as it is for Qausar and her team to convert legal jargons into layman language, it was well-rewarded with the smiles of children and the glimmer of hope they propagate.
Whilst juggling academics and her role as the COP Director, Qausar was also one of the Legal Aid Clinic’s (KBGUM) student advisors. In direct contrast with COP’s focus on legal education and advocacy, KBGUM focuses more on solving clients’ concerns. During her involvement, she gained a more comprehensive idea regarding a lawyer’s legal duties and ethical considerations via interactions with her clients and cases. Soon after, she had the opportunity to intern at Selangor’s Legal Aid Department under the Prime Minister’s office. This provided her the chance to engage with the residents in Selangor — mainly from the B40 class.
Qausar receiving a certificate of appreciation as a student advisor from the Dean during KBGUM Appreciation Hi-Tea
In regard to her venture in CLE, Qausar views it as the legal fraternity’s way of contributing to societal wellbeing. Disproving the default narrative that a pro bono case is an extra burden to carry beyond a legal practitioner’s job scope, she regard it as a moral obligation — a utensil that feeds us positive values from the big plate of tasks we are dealing with. She also learned how to give sincerely and with humility, besides the dedication she has poured into public advocacy.
Qausar alongside her teammates and lecturers at the GAJE Conference in Bandung, Indonesia
In 2019, Qausar represented the faculty to the 10th Worldwide Global Alliance Justice Education (GAJE) Conference in Bandung, Indonesia. There, she was given the opportunity to present three papers. Being the lead presenter for a paper entitled ‘Justice Education from the Students’ Perspective’, she had the opportunity to present to clinicians from all over the world on the impacts of the faculty’s CLE programmes based on her insights. Co-presenting for ‘Cross-Border Street Law: Working with Street Children’, she illustrated the challenges and impacts of cross-border collaboration between University of Malaya and Universitas Indonesia by demonstrating in the form of roleplay methodology on the language and legal systems barrier. The last paper she co-presented was ‘Educating Professional Responsibility and Legal Ethics through CLE: Insights from University of Malaya’s Experience’ which aimed to portray the functions and impacts brought forth by KBGUM as well as its collaboration with Jabatan Bantuan Guaman Malaysia (JBG). This opened a platform for her to present her insights as a KBGUM student advisor who had the chance to intern under JBG Selangor. Meeting other participants as passionate and as involved with the CLE programmes there, she felt the warm embrace of home.
Qausar taking a picture as one of the finalists for CLE Regional Pre-Hearing Trial Mock Trial
Qausar also participated in the Regional CLE Mock Trial in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which was held by the BABSEACLE — a non-profit access to justice and legal education organisation with an aim to raise awareness regarding ‘Access to Justice’ challenges throughout Asia and to help identify feasible and suitable strategies to overcome these barriers. Throughout the week, she had the rare opportunity to participate in every discussion held on access to justice and introduction to advocacy, including the finals. At the end of the week, she ran 5 kilometres for the Asia Justice Marathon 2019 in the name of child rights and legal ethics.
On top of that, Qausar was the Head of Sponsorship Bureau for both Lawnite Gala Dinner and the 12th Residential College’s Karnival Teater Universiti Malaya (KARVITER) in her rather hectic second year. She was also nominated to go for an outbound programme under the faculty which was the Summer School Programme organised by the University of Economics and Law, Vietnam. In the brief span of a fortnight, Qausar learnt about Tort Law and Consumer Protection Laws under the United States’ jurisdiction. She was also the Vice Secretary of Lex Ordinem (the orientation committee of the faculty). Determined to add colour to her journey in law school, she proved that an active CLE member can also engage in a formal setting, although contrary to what she was formerly accustomed to. As the committee members of Lex Ordinem are from diverse communities, it enabled her to connect with individuals from different backgrounds.
Qausar standing in line with the High Committees of Lex Ordinem 2018/2019
Despite her endearing reputation as the ‘walking sunshine’ amidst friends, sometimes the rain can be a little too overpowering. As law school can either push one to the far ends of the built or destroyed spectrum, Qausar is adamant on fixing herself at her own pace whilst acknowledging her feelings and flaws. “I hope you remember that sometimes it is not about being the brightest in class rather, it is about being the best version of ourselves. Self-improvement does not happen overnight and slow progress, nonetheless, is still good progress”, she reminded. Given the plethora of possibilities beyond our imagination and control, it is extremely important to not be too hard on oneself. “Pressure makes diamonds, but humans are not meant to be diamonds. We shine in our own way”, she explained. Not only did she heavily emphasised on the significance of a strong support system, she is also extremely thankful for the encouraging family she has. As it is fairly easy to drift away in the sweeping torrent of statutes and assignments, family and a group of close friends can remind you of who you are and ground you to your core identity. Despite having a group of really close friends, her social interactions are never limited as she gets along well with other members of the faculty.
As important as it may be to radiate kindness to our surroundings, Qausar is a firm believer that being kind to ourselves is just as important
In dealing with stress, Qausar usually strolls around the Varsity Lake as a brief escape from the bleakness of the faculty. The calm view of the picturesque blue sky and fluffy clouds enables her to feel more at ease and relaxed, regaining her composure before charging through upcoming obstacles. Unless caught in traffic jams, she also finds driving fairly therapeutic as it allows for personal self-reflection at the end of every hectic day. Besides the practice of self-love, Qausar also revealed that her engagement with the community relieves her of academic stress and empowers her as a person. Fondly recalling her heartwarming memories, Qausar shared her first COP trip to Sekolah Bimbingan Jalinan Kasih (SBJK). A 12-year-old, stateless girl held her hand, shared her dream to become a lawyer. She said, “Bestnya jadi kakak. Nak jadi macam kakak”. She also recalled one of the street law sessions she had with the Sekolah Tunas Bakti boys. Assigned to write a letter for their future selves, a 13-year-old boy came and whispered to her, “Kakak, saya tak pandai menulis. Boleh kakak tuliskan untuk saya?” The sight of these structural hardships faced by at-risk individuals are constant reminders for Qausar to count her blessings, be grateful, and have faith in the Almighty.
Qausar interacting enthusiastically with a participant from Sekolah Tunas Bakti.
Despite relatable insecurities on not being an active mooter, Qausar acknowledges the beauty of diverse passions. No one should feel intimidated just because their interests do not resonate with the mainstream and popular option. Simply go for what gives you a sense of belonging and excel in it. That being said, Qausar strongly endorses the collective obligation of the legal fraternity to serve the underprivileged and encourages participation in the CLE programmes. Despite its material benefits, pro bono work rewards its participants by invoking empathy and communication skills, this is mostly due to the need to turn legal jargons into layman terms — a task that is not as simple as it may seem.
As a profound optimist, Qausar’s motto in life is, “wherever and whatever life puts you through, trust the process”. As circumstances and interactions vary, the only thing one can cling so dearly to is one’s principles in life. Despite the quote ‘change is the constant thing in life’, the change we choose to make should revolve around the objective of improving oneself, not the stress and urgency of the situation. Wherever life takes her, she simply hopes that she stays true to herself. As the draining legal world can be full of complications, Qausar hopes she can reminisce her law school journey — particularly her engagement with the community — in the effort to become a better deliverer of justice.
Written by Ee Jie.