Erique Phang Li–Onn or better known as Erique
Living by the quote, “Life is a game of thrones, you either win or die. Despite a person swearing allegiance to a particular cause, nothing remains permanent”, Erique Phang Li–Onn is a current final year law student in the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya.
To the members of the faculty, Erique is well known for being an administrator. Throughout the four years in law school, he would be the person-in-charge when it comes to organising events such as gala dinners, moot competitions and running student organisations. His active engagements are mainly attributed to his policy in which mediation and moderation are of utmost importance. Erique prefers to run things in a diplomatic and tactful manner rather than adversarial.
Erique has held the positions of the Youth Communicator for a World without Nuclear Weapons since the year 2016, Vice-President of the UM Law Society 2015/2016, Managing Editor for the University Malaya Law Review (UMLR) 2016/2017 and currently the Editorial Advisor of UMLR for year 2017/2018. Further, he was also a Research Assistant to several lecturers in the Faculty, the Class Representative for the second-half of 2017 and at the same time a receiver of the Dean's List Award during his third year.
Erique with His Excellency Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima, during the Special Lecture and Panel Discussion titled “From Hiroshima to Our World without Nuclear Weapons - Beyond Human Atrocities” in July 2016.
In July 2016, Erique was appointed by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the first first non-Japanese Asian Youth Communicator for a World without Nuclear Weapons. This role advocates the future generations on the dangers of nuclear weapons. Almost all of those appointed to be Youth Communicators are native Japanese, ranging from students, youth leaders, movie stars, athletes and various other professions while the ‘hibakusha’, the elderly survivors of the atomic bombing are known as Special Communicators.
Erique (in the red traditional Chinese costume) and ASEAN Youth Leaders posing the ASEAN handshake in Hiroshima, 2017.
In March 2017, Erique was designated as the Head of the Malaysian delegation to the 1st ASEAN Student University Council Conference in Hiroshima, Japan. The one-week conference was attended by youth leaders from various universities of the ASEAN Region and Hiroshima University to discuss and present on the role of youths in global issues. Invited by the Japanese Government to speak on the non-proliferation and disarmament policy, Erique believes that education of the current and future generations is the key for a world free of nuclear weapons. Being appointed as a Youth Communicator is an amazing feat and it goes to show that law students in Malaysia are not confined to only participate in legal-related activities but could branch out to other domains as well. In addition, he believes that this could set an example that law students in the University of Malaya are not just law students who bury their noses in their law books but those who embark on the journey to understand culture from different parts of the world and create statutory regulations for the sake of world peace.
Erique with Dr Ronald McCoy, founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) during the Peace Boat Voyage Visit to the UM Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in 2016. On 6 October 2017, ICAN won the Nobel Peace Prize.
During his tenure as the Managing Editor for the UM Law Review in 2016/17, Erique was the man behind the technicalities and footnotes of the hardcopy journal. It was a difficult task to scrutinize every single footnote as the final layer of review given that the Board was still at its infancy stage and adopted the faculty’s legal citation style in editorial work. With all the commitment poured into making the journal a success, Erique was extremely delighted when the inaugural journal was published and gained wide publicity in the legal fraternity. Currently, Erique serves as one of the two Editorial Advisors who supervise and keep the Law Review in check.
Erique with YB Hannah Yeoh of Selangor, the first woman and youngest State Legislative Assembly Speaker, delivering the journals ordered for the State Assembly Library.
Erique was also the UM Law Society Vice President for term 2015/2016. The journey as the Vice-President taught him to handle various administrative issues in the Faculty, and he expresses his gratitude for the unity displayed by the Board. He further acknowledges the guidance and advice from the other members of the High Committee in the Law Society. Two years later, Erique took over the helm as the 43rd Batch Class Representative where he was also automatically appointed as Director of the Final Year Dining 2017. Being a people’s person, he captained the ship when no one else wanted command of it and steered it through the stormy seas, gaining vast experience on interpersonal skills.
Erique with the Right Honourable Dato' Mary Lim Thiam Suan JCA (also the Guest of Honor for the Final Year Dining in December 2017) during the Moot Camp 2018.
In the midst of juggling these administrative positions, Erique had also been a Research Assistant to several lecturers such as Dr Farah Nini Dusuki for the UNICEF-Malaysia Government 2015 Project, Dr Mogana Sunthari in collaboration with Japanese Ministry of Justice and City Council of Nagoya, and the drafting of the “National Human Rights Action Plan” under Professor Abu Bakar bin Munir with Dr Ershadul Karim. A tip to his fellow readers is that to conduct an effective research, one must have make notes for every document read, and possess good command of the language besides a wide vocabulary to ensure the right keywords are used. A skill that Erique utilises is speed-reading to take out important points and grasp them quicker while reading.
Taken with Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram (former judge of the Federal Court), Dato' Mohamad Ariff bin Md Yusof, and Dato Mah Weng Kwai (both former judges of the Court of Appeal), judges for the Finals of the Tun Suffian IHRL Moot Competition, a great show of vigour by the venerable bench.
Erique was invited by the UM Moot Club as the Liaison Officer for the Tun Suffian International Human Rights Competition 2017, the first international-scale Moot Competition organised by the Tun Suffian Foundation and the UM Law Faculty. He was very much satisfied that the event went smoothly. Soon after that, he was once again appointed as the Liaison Officer for Moot Camp 2018, an internal mooting talent search program. For both these events, Erique fulfilled his task to invite esteemed judges, representatives from the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC), and members of the legal fraternity. His utmost commitment was recognised by the AIAC, and recently, in early March, he was appointed as the Chief Volunteer of the 2nd KLRCA-ICC Pre-Moot for The Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moots.
Although Erique is active in various leadership positions, he excelled with a GPA of 3.85 and received the Dean’s List Award in his third year. Erique would strongly advise to read case laws in their entirety to understand the judgment beyond what were written in textbooks as well as diversifying reading materials. To him, the most memorable academic achievement is being able to obtain an A for his Project Paper on the topic of ‘Constitutionalising the Right to Judicial Review’ and being praised by the esteemed Professor Shad Saleem Faruqi as ‘exciting proposals on amendment of the law’. The paper now is in the midst of publication.
Last but not least, Erique believes that the real adventure of life, to quote from the Lord of the Rings, “is a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”