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 successes.
Joseph Khor, a final year student at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya.
Joseph Khor, or better known to the members of the Faculty as Joseph, is a final year law student at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya. Looking back on his four years in law school, Joseph is well-known as a vibrant personality, enthusiastic musician and remarkable mooter. His most notable achievements include representing the Faculty in the national rounds of one of the most prestigious moot court competition in the world, the Phillip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition twice and being crowned Best Oralist in the 2017 National Round.
Joseph recalled his early days when he decided to pursue his tertiary education in law. He felt oppressed by the over-zealous administration of the former Malaysian government, which legislated the Education Institutions (Discipline) Act 1976 that has turned into a vehicle for disregarding the students’ right to express their opinions. From there on, he felt the need to voice out against the system. Eventually, he aspired to represent those who are unable to speak on their own, whose cries and woes go unheard by the society at large.
Known as an eminent mooter within the Faculty, Joseph began his journey in 2016 when he participated in the Faculty’s Internal Moot Competition (IMC) as a first year student. His team was crowned as the Champion. Joseph then represented the Faculty in the 2016 UM-NUS Moot Court Competition, where his team emerged as the First Runner-up.
Joseph Khor (centre) and his teammates, as the First-Runner up of the UM-NUS Moot Court Competition held at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore.
Image credit: Sharon Li from the NUS
Joseph shared that his passion in mooting was primarily driven by his interest in advocacy and litigation. Prior to mooting, he also participated in debate competitions during his time in high school. These determinants further pushed him to endeavour bigger challenges, which was why he decided to partake in the 2016 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition – a prestigious competition considered by many as ‘the Olympic of all moots’. Joseph and his team emerged as the First Runner-up of the competition and the Winner of the Adrian W. Delamore Best Overall Memorial Award.
Despite not clutching the championship in 2016, Joseph was not a quitter. He decided to participate in the same competition again in 2017. His reasoning was simple – he wanted to do better the second time. “When we didn’t win, I told myself that I wanted to push myself to come out stronger the next time. I learnt a lot along the way - the skills and experience that I have gained were my biggest takeaways, along with the everlasting camaraderie amongst my teammates.”
First Runner-up of the national round of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition 2016
At the 2017 national rounds of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, Joseph and his team bowed out in the semi-finals. However, they managed to secure the Adrian W. Delamore Best Overall Memorial Award yet again. Additionally, Joseph was awarded the Erroll D. Shearn Best Oralist Award.
Joseph Khor, winning the Erroll D. Shearn Best Oralist Award at the 2017 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.
Mooting, as Joseph revealed, has taught him great life lessons. Aside from polishing his drafting and advocacy skills, mooting also trained him to broaden his perspectives and analyse a situation from all angles. Joseph also shared how he handled criticisms and disappointments. In Joseph’s words, one should always focus on the journey and not the prize. “We did the best that we could, and we are not ashamed of it. Judges in moot competitions are human, as anyone familiar with Legal Realism and Critical Legal Studies will understand. We would just have to accept all the criticisms that were thrown to us, take them as constructive feedback and then just move on.”
He also added that one should not consider mooting to be the sole avenue to enhance their legal capabilities. While undoubtedly mooting is a tremendous platform for legal training, it should never be, and is never meant to be the only ground for self-growth as a law student. He believes that, “There are bigger things in life that are worth the shot, aside from mooting. Whatever the field students choose to participate, necessary skills will be harnessed and such skills will groom them to become better lawyers.”
Apart from mooting, Joseph has a huge passion for music. To Joseph, music is therapeutic, and it is more than just a mere hobby to him. Joseph can play various music instruments ranging from the piano, guitar, the bass, and their variants. His musicality shone through when he represented the First Residential College of the University of Malaya in the Acoustic Band category for the University of Malaya Annual Art Festival, or Festival Seni Universiti Malaya (“FESENI”) in 2016. Joseph also performed with his bandmates during the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya LawNite dinner of 2016/2017, as well as the DaYao Song Composing Concert of 2017, which is an annual event hosted by the University of Malaya Chinese Language Society.
Joseph, performing for DAYAO 2017
Image credit: Benson Eoh
Recalling his four years in law school, Joseph humbly stated that he did not consider himself to have achieved much at this point, but all those milestones he had reached, he could not have achieved them by himself. He warmly attributed all his accomplishments so far to the love and support of his family and close friends, as well as his faith in the Almighty.
Joseph lived his life by the quote: “blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken.” He advised other law students who are interested in mooting to not hold back and to just go for it, provided that everyone embarks on their mooting journey with their best foot forward. He imparted to these high-spirited individuals that “there will be difficult encounters along the way, but in return you will get a great harvest of knowledge, wisdom and maturity. In addition, never turn your back on the company who tirelessly cheered you on. Treasure them, as they are real companions that will keep your spirits high.”