Sunday, August 14, 2011

AWL Brainstorming Session 13th August, 2011

A short report on the outcome of our recent brainstorming session from our President:

"Brainstorming Session Report:

A) Our Agenda for the day was:

1. Expectations check by each member
2.Revisiting reasons why we joined
3.Brief introduction of current projects

4.The change we want to see:

a) what can we do
b) what needs to be done
c) who are the actors we need to influence
d) preconditions that need to bring about the change (short term , medium etc)

5. Wrap up & Next steps

B) Angela took us through the process of making us reflect on how we would like AWL to be remembered in the next 3 - 5 years . We were asked to imagine that AWL is no longer in existence i.e. dead and gone and what would be it's epitaph . For example , Herein lies AWL and it is remembered for the great work it did on raising awareness on Sexual Harassment within the BAR .

It was quite an interesting session and many had hilarious imagination but all in all very realistic too.

The list is as follows:

1. AWL will be remembered as a credible voice and a Consultant to the BAR
2. AWL will be remembered for its change of name to Malaysian Association of Women Lawyers ( MAWL ) instead of just representing Selangor and KL only
3. AWL will be remembered for bringing about change and enabling women lawyers to enter any fields of law. ( We know that many women now enter the profession and end up with very gendered fields of law. )
4.AWL will be remembered for bringing about change in the law to better protect women in Malaysia.( specifically Sexual Harassment, gender bias in legislation etc)
5. AWL will be remembered because Women law students are more knowledgeable about the legal profession to make informed decisions before entering the profession .
6.AWL will be remembered for bridging the link between NGOs and women lawyers
7. AWL will be remembered as activists and credible voices in their own right
8.AWL will be remembered for raising issues of discrimination and inequality, especially in the BAR
9. Awl will be remembered because No women would be left without legal representation. Women lawyers are committed to contributing to address social and legal issues .
10. AWL will be remembered for raising the minimum 30% representation of women in the Judiciary , Syariah and Bar Council
11. AWL will be remembered for changing the culture in sharing knowledge, skills and experiences among lawyers and other actors
12. AWL will
be remembered because now Transgenders are treated as equal persons before the law
13. AWL will be remembered for incorporating social justice (eg. paternity law/ provision for men)
14. AWL will be remembered for raising awareness about " rape in custody irrespective of where it happens (in prison) and to whom (transgenders)"
15 . AWL will be remembered for sensitizing legal processes to ensure women's rights are protected (eg rape, sexual offences)

C) Various Committees were formed :

1. Research - looking at Baseline survey on the professional development of women lawyers (ongoing project )

2. Membership Drive

3. Communication & Media - looking at Facebook , website etc and specifically looking at Section 95 of the Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) Act.

4. Fundraising for AWL - projects

5. Networking

6. Professional & Personal Development

I will forward a write up in the next few days on the existing research
project that AWL has undertaken i.e. Baseline Report on the Professional Development of Women lawyers .

At this morning's meeting, various members had shown interest in being the various committees . We will also send invites out to other members to be part of the various committees listed above . Looking forward to working with all of you.

Meera Samanther

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Voice Of The Rakyat

Written by our Treasurer, Chai Har Khoo on Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at 10:46pm

Whenever I write an article or an account of an event, I try to write from a place within me which is true and honest. I always believe that people are able to spot insincerity from miles away. And through the candlelight vigils held in protest of the detention of the EO6, I had the privilege of hearing the voice of the Rakyat whose message was pure and true. Like all things which are pure and true, they leave a mark in our hearts and a profound impression in our minds for many years to come.

"Hidup Rakyat!", the crowd chanted while I quietly lit my candle. I was standing towards the back of the crowd at Brickfields fountain last Thursday (28 July 2011), completely amazed at the spectrum of people who came in support of the release of the EO6. I saw people of all ages and colours, people from all walks of life turning up for the vigil. I met an old friend of mine, who in turn introduced me to several other people. I was especially impressed to see foreigners, a catholic monk and nuns taking part in the vigil. It struck me that those who were there at the vigil were certainly people who valued their freedom of expression, above and beyond the average Malaysian.

Unfortunately for us that night, the Brickfields OCPD ordered those present at the vigil to disperse at about 8:40pm (which was originally scheduled to end at 9pm). The police officers then came marching to Brickfields fountain with their shields and batons. The crowd quickly dispersed within 10 minutes but decided to continue with the vigil in front of the Bukit Aman police headquarters.

To my surprise, the police officers at Bukit Aman were very calm when they saw us holding our candlelight vigil there. A representative from the Socialist Party Of Malaysia enquired for an update on the status of the detention of the EO6, we were informed that one of the detainees had gone on a hunger strike. At that time, all of us hoped that the EO6 would be released as soon as possible. As we were leaving Bukit Aman that night, little did we know that the EO6 were to be released the following Monday (1 August 2011).

Had it not for the Association Of Women Lawyers, I would not have attended the vigil in Brickfields. I would have missed the opportunity to interact with those people who had gone the distance to have their voices heard. I may not always agree with all that was said, but I champion the right for the Rakyat to speak up when the circumstances call for it. And as a lawyer, I would never condone detention without trial.

When I was in Myanmar many years ago, I remember staring at the home of Aung San Suu Kyi across the lake, asking myself what it would be like to be under house arrest for so many years. I shuddered at that thought, and I am grateful that the EO6 have since been released.

"What makes you attend tonight's vigil?", I asked one of the Catholic nuns.

She smiled and replied peacefully: "We stand for solidarity".