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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

NYLC-MCCHR Strategic Litigation Camp 2016

18 – 21 August 2016

Training Room at Avillion, Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan

Report by Nadra Fatima binti Mannan

From 18 to 21 August 2016, the National Young Lawyers Committee (NYLC) in collaboration with the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR) organised an action packed Strategic Litigation Camp at Avillion, Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan which was attended by twenty participants from all over Malaysia. With sponsorship courtesy of the Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee (KLBC), the author and several KLBC members attended the said camp which turned out to be a memorable and wonderful learning experience.

Training for the camp actually begun before 18 August 2016 when the participants received email instructions to prepare for a moot scheduled for 19 August 2016. Each group was to draft written submissions and to prepare oral submissions for the said moot. Although the moot was held for the very first-time by camp organisers, the hiccoughs were few and far outweighed by the fun and camaraderie among the participants. The moot should indeed be a recurring feature at future camps as it gives the participants to hone their courtroom skills. The author’s group consisted of the following participants:

Law Firm
Chong Pei Yen (Emily)
Tan Law Practice
Priscilla Chin Hooi Sze
Kanesalingam & Co.
Tiu Foo Woei (Cyrus)
Foo Woei & Co.
Datuk Yeo Heng Hau
Halim Hong & Quek

We were assigned the role of counsel for the Respondent in the case of Maria Chin Abdullah & 2 Others v Menteri Dalam Negeri & Another to resist the appeal brought by the Applicant after having lost in the High Court in her bid to judicially review the yellow T-shirt ban during the “Bersih 4.0” rally. As some of you will remember, the Home Minister had issued an order under the Printing Presses and Publications Act to ban yellow T-Shirts which had been associated with the rally. 

The group vividly recollected the first group meeting where Datuk Yeo candidly stated that it was a losing battle for the Respondent. This sentiment was shared by one of the camp facilitators but the point was to demonstrate the ability to make sustained submissions in support of the Respondent’s case. Feedback from the facilitators cum judges was useful and provided an insight as to how to approach the submissions.

Another aspect of the camp was to expose the participants to how Strategic Litigation may be used to address socio-legal issues in various areas of human rights. The concept of strategic litigation is new to some of the participants and our attention was kept focused on various case studies and discussions on current issues such as the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. in a cartoon by Charlie Hebdo, gender discrimination and many more.

Groups were then given the task of analysing various issues. Our group tackled the issue of unilateral conversions whereas other groups focused on issues such as gerrymandering and whether Muslim women ought to be allowed to eat in public during Ramadhan. Group interaction was key and there was a fluid exchange of ideas and opinions which culminated in a group presentation. 

There was a second mooting session which was judged by Aston Paiva, Goh Siu Lin and Edmund Bon, all of whom gave excellent feedback and comments which we will all seek to incorporate into practice.

Overall, the whole training Camp was enlightening and meaningful with tremendous experience and memories. We would like to pay tribute to the organisers: NYLC, MCCHR, Liberal Banter, KLBC, the facilitators: Khairil Zhafri, Long Seh Lih, Sherrie Razak and Syahredzan Johan for conducting and coordinating this training camp smoothly and efficiently.

I am glad to have had the opportunity of working together with fellow comrades: Emily, Priscilla, Foo Wei, and Datuk Yeo and we worked well as team despite distractions in the form of the badminton singles match for gold between Datuk Lee Chong Wei and Cheng Long from China at the Rio Olympics. 

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