Lim Ru Yee, better known as Serina, is currently in her final year at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya (‘UM’). She grew up in Sungai Petani, a lively yet serene city up north of Peninsular Malaysia. Perhaps her time there has somewhat led to her adoption of the same qualities; albeit introverted by nature, she maintains a prominent presence within the University.
As the current President of the University of Malaya Campus Election Committee (‘UMCEC’) 2020/2021, Serina proved to be a trailblazer in her own right. She steered the committee to orchestrate the first-ever online election in UM’s long history — in a pandemic, no less — a task which they have triumphantly accomplished. She has also contributed to the Faculty’s ethos of mooting, representing UM in various eminent moot competitions. Some of her most notable achievements include bagging the First Runner-up for the Best Memorial Award in Asia Cup 2021, ranking at the Top 60th percentile for the Global Rounds in the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot 2021, and being a Semi-finalist for the International Rounds of LAWASIA International Moot Competition 2020. Beyond all that, she has also partaken in community development projects. Serina has worked with Baitul Bahiyah 2020/2021 to aid Rohingya refugees around Kuala Lumpur and was alongside Jom Tanam Pokok 2019/2020, a campaign aiming to raise environmental awareness.
With her outstanding portfolio, it is safe to say that Serina has employed her law school days to the fullest extent. Despite the stature that came with that, Serina did not hold back in this interview — sharing the peaks and valleys of the path she took.
How did you decide to read law; was it predisposed by the things you have faced in the past?
‘I have always wanted to speak up against injustices, but I was afraid to do so back then. That fear exists due to my lack of merit because people tend to disregard others who might not be as well-versed.’
From a very young age, Serina has always been the straightforward one. She found no upsides to sugar-coating if it simply works to diminish the concern at hand. Nevertheless, this approach has its disadvantages, painting her as a defiant character. In consequence, Serina learnt to bite her tongue in certain situations. This certainly does not mean that she grew oblivious to her surroundings, for it merely meant that she learnt how to pick her battles.
Back in the day, a staff member in her school often employed corporal punishments to enforce discipline amongst students. One burning question that kept popping up in her mind was ‘whether schools are allowed to employ such measures on their students.’ Her wariness to speak up, coupled with the fact that her peers saw no wrong in the staff member’s approach, led Serina to let the matter slide eventually.
One eventful day, her school organised an education fair, which gathered spokespeople from several esteemed institutions. With the various options presented before her, she was like a kid in a candy store. However, of all the booths, the one that she gravitated to was the UM Faculty of Law booth. She recalled the compelling pitch made by the Faculty’s representative that sparked interest in a primary school student to study law — supplementing her burning desire to fight for what is right.
Serina admitted that at first, she had doubts about her decision. The second-guessing stemmed from her insecurities of not amounting to some of her more outspoken peers. In turn, this made her contemplate whether she had blundered in deciding to enter law school.
It was not until Route to Moot that she reconnected with the little girl that appeared eager to get into law school. The annual event reminded her of her intention to give a voice to her moral compass and speak up against the injustices around her. From that moment on, she grasped onto that sense of clarity whenever that self-doubt creeps in.