Notorious for his charming smile, bright personality, and contagious laughter that often punctuates the Lex Loci Student Lounge, Akhmal Amaluddin is well-loved within the Faculty. Apart from an incredible list of achievements, his humility and relentless pursuit of knowledge serve as an inspiration to many.
Akhmal — born and raised in the bustling city of Subang Jaya — is the youngest of three siblings. He credits his loving parents for shaping him into the person he is today. Besides supporting their children to pursue their various interests, his parents consistently emphasised two cardinal rules to prepare him for the harsh realities of life; firstly, to strive hard for one’s goals; and secondly, to always hold one’s ground and stand up for oneself. With these core values, it is no surprise that Akhmal has developed into the dedicated and ambitious character he is today.
Akhmal’s pillars of strength: his loving parents who have always supported him
It may be difficult for some to picture him studying anything besides law, but he sheepishly admits that his ambitions have taken dramatic turns since his childhood. He joyfully recounts his early aspirations of becoming a food taster and even an astronaut! Akhmal’s interest in the legal field began in secondary school, during which he was torn between furthering his education in law, economics, and international relations. He eventually decided to pursue his Foundation in Law at Universiti Teknologi MARA (‘UiTM’) in order to keep his options open. His time at UiTM, made better by its great syllabus and amazing lecturers, cemented his decision to read law.
Notwithstanding his varied academic interests at that juncture, he unfailingly kept Universiti Malaya (‘UM’) close to his heart in hopes of bringing a smile to his beloved father, an alumnus of the Faculty of Economics, UM. While his UM acceptance letter was received with obvious excitement, insecurity was no stranger to Akhmal. He feared that the intense environment would eat away at his confidence. However, his parents’ reassurance and never-ending support kept him grounded, cautioning him against letting go of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity merely due to self-doubt — an inevitable obstacle in any journey.
‘As Arya Stark puts it, “fear cuts deeper than swords,” and I refuse to lose a golden opportunity over baseless fears. Ultimately, I accepted the offer to read law.’
Nonetheless, Akhmal’s journey did not come without challenges. It is only natural to conflate one’s self-worth with academic achievements in a highly competitive environment. He opines that his self-doubt usually stems from unhealthy comparisons with others’ stellar academic achievements, but also believes that life is too short to be wasted on such comparisons. Whilst he acknowledges the importance of good grades, Akhmal believes that success can be reached through various means, as opposed to merely academic wins. He knows not to place one’s self-value solely on academic slips and instead widens his efforts to develop other beneficial skills through his involvement in the Asian Law Students’ Association Universiti Malaya (‘ALSA UM’) and mooting.
‘Everyone is capable of greatness; the only variation being how we reach there.’
He firmly regards that good time management is the key to balancing his studies and co-curricular involvements. Years of law school have taught Akhmal to prioritise urgent tasks, and never overlook the benefits of task delegation in order to avoid the overbearing weight of student club responsibilities.
Admittedly, it is easy to get overwhelmed by one’s academic life and fall victim to bouts of burnout as the workload picks up. Akhmal usually utilises the Notepad application, which helps him stay on top of things. Simply by listing down the relevant tasks and their respective due dates, the virtual application can be an immense help in keeping track of to-do lists and deadlines.
Akhmal’s dynamic leadership is most clearly reflected in his role as the President of ALSA UM in the 2020/2021 tenure, when COVID-19 was at its peak. Spearheading a student organisation centred around physical social activities — such as the Student Exchange Programme (‘SEP’) — amidst lockdowns and travel restrictions proved to be difficult.
Akhmal with his fellow ALSA UM High Committee members
Yet, he remained composed in the face of great adversity and eventually oversaw the introduction of the online Student Exchange Programme (‘E-SEP’) with the support of his board. Thanks to his fellow High Committee members, Bureau Officers, and the Faculty’s support, two E-SEPs were conducted smoothly during his tenure.
The first E-SEP was made possible with the aid of one of their partners, Universitas Tarumanagara — who provided invaluable technical assistance and connected UM with other participating universities from Indonesia. During Akhmal’s tenure, ALSA UM successfully hosted delegates from China, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, and South Korea.
‘Additionally, we also managed to facilitate the fulfilment of Outbound requirements of all participating delegates from the Faculty of Law. Whilst there were hiccups along the way, we overcame all of them.’
The amazing members of ALSA UM that brought the organisation to greater heights during the first virtual tenure
That being said, his enthusiastic participation in student activities can be traced back to his days in UiTM. Akhmal took part in several Model United Nations (‘MUN’) conferences, which ultimately equipped him with the basics of legal research and advocacy. He had to prepare position papers, draft resolutions, amendments, and bills. Additionally, he had to verbally argue for or against particular issues. Akhmal’s experience in MUN introduced him to the world of persuasive argument. Thus, he acquainted himself with strategies of conceding a point, merging opinions, co-opting proposals, and rallying support — all in the name of gaining the Council’s approval.
Akhmal during the Methodist College Kuala Lumpur MUN Conference 2019
His first experience at the Nexus International School Malaysia MUN Conference turned into a pleasant surprise when he and his partner obtained the Outstanding Delegation Award. Having participated in eight MUN conferences since then, Akhmal developed into a seasoned MUN delegate. He recalls the Sunway MUN Conference in 2020 being the highlight of his MUN career, during which he acted as a Member of Parliament for P.131 Rembau as part of the Dewan Rakyat Council. The unique hands-on experience allowed him to learn about negotiations, managing people, and drafting bills in relation to the ongoing issue of East Malaysian autonomy. His wit and charm shined through as he acquired a strong two-thirds majority, bringing down the incumbent simulant government.
The highlight of Akhmal’s MUN experience: the Sunway MUN Conference
‘In hindsight, perhaps without MUN, I would never have joined mooting. It helped familiarise me with the basics of legal research and advocacy.’
Akhmal soon developed a flair for research and persuasive argument. Thanks to his enriching MUN experience, he was encouraged to dip his toes into the daunting waters of the mooting scene.
Believe it or not, he initially did not enjoy mooting. When the compulsory Route to Moot programme for first-years rolled around, Akhmal was determined to see the activity through and bid farewell to any future mentions of moot. Instead, he was exposed to the wonderful satisfaction of getting to argue over a contentious point and impressing the judges with his thorough research. All in all, he enjoyed the brief introduction to mooting that was made better by his amazing teammates.
He once again had no plans of participating in the Internal Mooting Competition 2020 (‘IMC’). As faith would have it, his batchmate and friend, Bridget Chua, invited him to join her team consisting of other fellow batchmates. Emerging as Champion and surprising himself by taking home the Best Oralist Award, Akhmal’s love for mooting officially solidified.
‘IMC gave me the confidence boost and assurance that I could do mooting. What was once a desire to quickly ditch mooting vanished into thin air.’
Since then, he has flourished into the ardent mooter he is today. The secret behind his impressive performance can be broken down into three parts: strong research, constant improvement, and taking the journey in stride.
The mooting process involves research, drafting, and advocacy. Thus, strong research skills are a must for all mooters. One must be efficient in consolidating the most accurate materials to support an argument by utilising available databases. For instance, during Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition (‘Jessup’), the team researched how public international law dealt with state-sponsored hacking. Armed with efficient research skills combined with a fair amount of trial and error, Akhmal succeeded in finding a document in the United Nations public records outlining the position of various states on the exact issue.
Having sharp research skills led the 2021/2022 Jessup team to victory in the National Rounds
One must also be prepared to embark on a continuous process of learning and improvement. Every mooting journey comes with its fair share of ups and downs. On this note, Akhmal is no stranger to defeats and sorrows, for his mooting experience has not always been a walk in the park. Nevertheless, as every experience imparts a lesson for improvement, he always pays heed to his coaches’ feedback to enhance his skills.
Lastly, despite the numerous difficulties of mooting, he remembers to always enjoy the process. Never once has Akhmal been disappointed with his mooting endeavours. In fact, it has allowed him the opportunity to better know his peers whilst honing his research and oratorical skills. The friendships and memories forged truly kept Akhmal strong during his mooting journey.
Every cloud has a silver lining and for Akhmal, the friendships formed are worth the hardships faced
For those wishing to follow in his footsteps of success, Akhmal advises all to remain patient and persevere through the demanding months of preparation. It is essential to remind oneself that the months of hard work will pay off once the team reaches the finish line. Additionally, he urges all to remain professional when working in a team environment. Tensions may inevitably rise in such a high-pressure situation, but it is important to remember that a team always strives hard to achieve a common goal nonetheless.
Akhmal and his teammates for the Monroe E Price Media Law Moot Court Competition (‘Price Media’) 2020/2021, where they emerged as Semi-Finalists and won the Best Memorial Award in the International Rounds
Akhmal implores prospective mooters to be strong and confident. If one disavows mooting due to insecurity in one’s ability, he stresses that the necessary skills to become an excellent mooter are acquired and sharpened over time.
‘The skillset required is not a hereditary trait exclusive to a select few. One is not born with naturally perfect English, excellent advocacy skills, or perfect research abilities.’
Furthermore, Akhmal notes that mooting is not entirely about winning. It is also an avenue for students to develop a deeper understanding of the application of the law. Thus, confidence is key to reaping the full benefits of the mooting experience.
This avid history buff also ensures to include non-European narratives in his arsenal of knowledge. Occasionally reading about the histories of Asia, Africa, and the Americas, Akhmal believes that a wider horizon of historical education will help form more of a global outlook.
‘History breathes life into dry words of textbooks and commentaries. For law students, it gives us insight as to why the law is as what we know it today.’
With respect to fantasy-themed fiction and video games, Akhmal is eternally appreciative of the rest and relief they provide from the pressures of law school. As a big fan of fantasy authors such as George R.R. Martin and J.R.R. Tolkien, he finds much respite in these fictional worlds. Akhmal also thoroughly enjoys playing Paradox Interactive’s Crusader Kings II and Europa Universalis IV as well as Creative Assembly’s Total War series.
Turning to his academic interests when studying law, Akhmal often delves into discussions surrounding the Basic Structure Doctrine. Often exploring materials beyond the class syllabus, his curiosity sparked after reading an article penned by a then final-year student, Iqbal Harith Liang, titled ‘The Chronicles of the Basic Structure Doctrine’. He was enraptured by the conflicting interpretations on the scope of the amendment power and the judicial responses to overreaching legislatures, which ultimately impacts the Constitution’s foundation and extent of supremacy. This then propelled him to conduct his own research relating to constituent power and unconstitutional constitutional amendments.
Akhmal credits the aforementioned personal interests for helping him survive the stormy seas of law school. Still prioritising his assignments and academic work, he notes the importance of taking time to indulge in different hobbies so as to avoid overextending oneself.
‘Ultimately, you want to have time for yourself. Even if you do not, at least be occupied with clubs or events that you can enjoy and grow from.’
Akhmal’s law school experience was enjoyable all thanks to his ‘buddies’
He wishes to express his gratitude to the pure-hearted souls of his ‘buddy’ line, the ‘CrazyBbs’, that never shied away from showing him the nooks and crannies of law school. Akhmal is thankful for every ‘CrazyBbs’ member, from his seniors (Ng May, Caysseny Boonsiri, Meendy Gan, Saradha Lakshmi, and Elisa Oyen) to his batchmates and juniors (Siti Sarah, Jing Yi, Shasmeetha Nair, Kamilia Cheng, Anis Nadhira, Abqari Annuar, and Sulakhni Kaur).
His confidants in law school through thick and thin: Kamara and Leezzie
Akhmal is forever grateful to Leezzie and Kamara for their unfaltering support, especially during times when there were no silver linings. He also lovingly appreciates the ‘Yong Tau Foo sisters’ — Azrie, Kamara, Leezzie, and Nabil for upholding their customary dinner tradition of enjoying ‘Yong Tau Foo’ and Japanese desserts. Despite burning holes in their pockets, these dinners were an enjoyable escape from the demands of reality.
Nothing ‘Yong Tau Foo’ cannot cure
Meanwhile, the unity of ‘The Temple’ — comprising himself, Luc Choong, and Carmel Grace Philip — remains strong since its origins in LAWASIA. From emotional support to a shared macabre sense of humour, Akhmal does not regret counting these two within his close circle.
‘The Temple will always have a special place in my heart. Yes, even Luc.’
Crediting all his past teammates and coaches for making his mooting experience as memorable as it was, Akhmal extends his gratitude to Mr Raphael Ren and Ms Saradha Lakshmi for being great mentors and the pillars behind his stellar mooting achievements.
On top of that, he is thankful for his secondary school friends — namely, Wan Aiqha Liyana, Dana Wong, and Faris Haziq — for brightening his days with their unshakeable bonds and unforgettable memories.
His secondary school friendships that endured the test of time
Lastly, Akhmal would not be who he is today without his family.
‘If not for them, I would have abandoned reading law before even becoming a student. Their belief in me, no matter what it was, remains a source of strength that powers me forward. To Ibu and Ayah, who are the reason behind my will to achieve excellence, as an appreciation for their sacrifices to get me this far. To my brother and sister — Abang and Ellisa, thank you for your support and belief in me from the start until now. Despite our family’s apparent hereditary trait of grumpiness, deep down we love and value each other so much. We are each other’s pillars of strength and confidence.’
Akhmal and his beloved family
Akhmal, eternally grateful for everyone’s incredible support, hopes to continue embarking on great adventures and soar to greater heights.
Written by Siti Nur Radhwa.
Reviewed by Chrystal Foo, Pravena Sreetharan, and Ee Jie.