Louis Liaw’s confessions of a student abroad.
I wrote this the day after my exams at the Bar Professional Training Course (in case you don’t know it’s one of the qualification courses that would allow me to practice as a lawyer in Malaysia — the final hurdle before I am qualified.
The paper was tough, but it definitely was made tougher as I followed news in Malaysia over the week via Twitter and several online news portals.
From the exposé of the unresolved 1MDB corruption scandal, the haphazard implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, the introduction of the Prevention of Terrorism Act that allows detention without trial up to two years with no judicial review allowed, and most recently, the Sedition (Amendment) Act that provides a three-year minimum sentence upon conviction among its other draconian provisions (for example a prohibiting order that prohibits a person usage of any electronic devices if suspected of a seditious act).
It was a tough week for me, but definitely a tougher one for Malaysians. Now that my exams are done and dusted, at least I have regained my freedom — but over on the other side of the world, there’s less freedom now for Malaysians.
As a Malaysian studying in a foreign country, there’s always the temptation to stay back after the course, especially when the future sure looks brighter here with all the above happening back home. In addition to the pre-existing corruption and continuing street crime, the current administration seems to be increasingly even more greedy, ruthless, and merciless.
Nonetheless, instead of feeling despair, I feel enraged, and in fact impatient, to return to do something for my country. Instead of choosing the easy way out of packing and leaving, I am adamant to return to fight for change. As Ron Paul said, “real patriotism is a willingness to challenge the government when it’s wrong”.
What keeps me encouraged and optimistic the vast amount of like-minded people that I have been fortunate to encounter.
From lawyers offering pro-bono legal assistance, relentlessly fighting to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law, politicians debating past midnight against the Bills, student groups such as KPUM who continue to empower students by bringing awareness and taking courageous stands, and of course, fellow Malaysians who bring matters to the streets.
These people have been and will continue to be my role models, my inspiration, and my source of light during dark times like these.
Indeed, compared to them, shamefully I have contributed so little as I have spent most of my time this year focusing on passing my course. Passing the course as soon as possible and then contributing as a qualified lawyer has been an underlying motivation all along.
For now, this article is the least I can do. This is written by an ordinary student studying overseas, who was once apathetic to politics like many others. I hope this resonates with students reading this.
The message of this article is simple. It is to show gratitude to the people who have been and still are fighting for our home, it is an appeal to not choose the easy way out by leaving, it is a reminder that it is always darkest before dawn, and most importantly, it is a call for action.
Malaysia is my home and it always will be. If there’s something to be done, it is up to us Malaysians to do it, and if there’s any hope for the country, it is in us.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi