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.
Nurul Fatin Munirah, a final year student at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya
Nurul Fatin Munirah, or more affectionately known as Munirah, is a final year law student at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya. Munirah is well-known for her role as the backbone of the Faculty’s Community Outreach Programme (COP), which aims to increase legal literacy among the underprivileged and marginalised. Under her leadership as the Director of COP in 2017, the club rose to greater heights and solidified its status as a prominent student club in the Faculty.
Munirah strongly endorses the act of giving back to the society. When asked why a degree in law, Munirah narrated her lifelong goal: To help society in any way that she can. Unbeknownst to many, Munirah was heavily exposed to social work ever since she was little. Her father was once a government officer attached under the Social Welfare Department ('Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat’). It was there that she began following her father around, especially when he was assigned to be on-site whenever there was a disaster like a fire or flood. Munirah had first-hand experience of witnessing the kind of work in which her father was heavily involved.
"There was this one particular incident that stayed with me till this day: An Orang Asli child gifted me a bag of fish crackers. It was a truly humbling experience - despite this child having so little, he still wanted to give me something of his. His selflessness taught me the true value of sharing and helping one another. It’s also really important for us to be kind to everyone we meet since we can never really know for sure how life is treating them."
Munirah (left) conducting a Street Law session alongside her peers during one of COP’s regular visits to KL Krashpad
Munirah is well-known among the members of COP as one of its outstanding directors. In her words, joining COP was one of the best decisions she had ever made throughout her time in law school. She recalled being inspired by what COP stands for when she was first introduced to the volunteering club: Selflessness. Through COP, Munirah discovered the importance of providing legal literacy.
“What we do is so important because these children and the marginalised communities that they come from barely have access to justice and are strangers to the law. Often, they are also victims of the situations into which they are born. Society is afraid to approach them.”
Munirah further emphasised that what COP strives to achieve for these communities, especially the children, which is to provide them with a platform in which they can develop the ability to discern between a legal right and a legal wrong. This platform, Munirah explained, is called Street Law and it involves the running of workshops wherein the law is taught using a basic and elementary approach, taking into account the marginalised backgrounds of these children.
Munirah was the Secretary of COP in 2016 when it was crowned Best Campus Community Club in the University of Malaya, coming on top of many other exceptional volunteering clubs. Significantly, the prestigious award placed COP’s reputation on a pedestal, contributing to its current standing in the Faculty as a distinguished student-run volunteering club.
Munirah (second from right), alongside COP’s coordinator, Associate Professor Datin Norbani binti Mohamed Nazeri (right) and COP’s assistant coordinator, Puan Aisyah binti Mohd Soberi (fourth from left) and the 2016 High Committee when COP was crowned Best Campus Community Club 2016
Munirah firmly attributed the success of COP to their coordinator, Associate Professor Datin Norbani binti Mohamed Nazeri, assistant coordinator, Puan Aisyah binti Mohd Soberi, as well as all their selfless members. Munirah noted that, “We have such a strong team because we trust and motivate each other. Prof Bani and Puan Aisyah remind us constantly that teamwork is important. We share the same passion: we are passionate about helping people and we are passionate about helping these marginalised children. Because of this shared passion, we are each other’s pillar of strength.”
During her tenure as the Director of COP, Munirah led a team of a dozen students from the Faculty in one of COP’s yearly exchange programme to Universitas Indonesia. Munirah and her team collaborated with their Indonesian counterparts and developed teaching methods, including a student-centred approach. These teaching methods were then applied directly during their workshops in community centres in Indonesia. Munirah described the experience as eye-opening as they were exposed to the unfortunate living conditions of the underprivileged and the low rate of legal literacy among members of the marginalised group in Indonesia.
Munirah and her team in Depok with the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Universitas Indonesia
As a member of COP, Munirah regularly participated in weekly trips to various community centres where she taught Street Law. She had taught at Sekolah Bimbingan Jalinan Kasih (“SBJK”), Kechara Soup Kitchen, Kuala Lumpur Krashpad (“KL Krashpad”), Taman Sri Putri (“TSP”) and Pusat Aktitviti Kanak-Kanak (“PAKK”), to name a few. Her latest participation was at Sekolah Tunas Bakti (“STB”), a juvenile centre for teenage boys.
When asked the reasoning behind opting to join COP over other activities in the Faculty, Munirah stated that she wanted to do something that requires her to get personally involved with the community as a whole. Volunteering work aptly met the criterion for her as she passionately wanted to assist the needy whenever she could.
Munirah (second from right) and her team conducting a session during one of COP’s visits to community centres
While active in COP, Munirah is no stranger to other voluntary-based community service associations. Munirah is a member of the Shah Alam Youth Club. She also signed up for a course on Teaching Techniques for Special Children in 2017 where she was exposed to a teaching method called Cued Speech. Munirah then took the initiative to personally observe the applicability of this teaching method, and volunteered at Pusat Pertuturan Kiu where she got to interact with children who are hard of hearing, some of whom were also autistic.
On top of that, Munirah was also selected to intern under the External Internship Programme associated with the Border across Bridges, South East Asia Community Legal Education organisation (“BABSEA CLE”) in 2016. The internship lasted for two weeks in Chiangmai, Thailand during which Munirah was afforded the opportunity to work closely with students of various other nationalities in promoting legal literacy.
Munirah, second from left, posing in front of the BABSEA CLE Foundation Centre in Chiangmai, Thailand
Considering the influence of her on-site experiences with her father as a child, Munirah expressed that her family is her biggest motivator. “My father used to tell me that in everything that you do, always look for the silver lining; always have faith in ‘hikmah’. Always give more because the more you give, the more you will receive.”
Entering her final year of law school, Munirah has no regrets during her time in the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya. "Perhaps there were a few times when I was a bit disappointed with myself, when I felt like I didn't push myself to my limit in certain things. Nevertheless, I do not consider them regrets. I am grateful, content and wouldn't change a thing!"
Looking back at her active involvement with the less fortunate, Munirah confidently said that participating in volunteering work had shaped her into the person that she is today. Munirah advises all law students who are interested in volunteering work to hold on to three principles: passion, commitment and the desire to serve – “Just hold on to these three principles and you will obtain rewarding experiences. And when volunteering, remember this – it’s not about you, it’s about the people you are helping.”