Read the personal statement that secured Kamilia a place to read law at London School of Economics, University of Warwick and University of Nottingham.
My inability to accept perceived injustice led me to think about the law. My college provided the perfect microcosm to reflect on my questions about the law, morality, and social justice. Unlike my previous schools, the college I now attend is more conservative and religious in its character. Although I disagree with the rules that govern aspects of our daily lives, a majority of students finds them benign or even beneficial. Being in the minority who disagrees with the rules made me wonder how competing rights and preferences could be resolved in a just and fair manner. It led me to explore if there are moral reasons for disobeying laws, and whether doing so could ever be right.
It was fascinating to see the economic concept of opportunity costs in the law, where the process of weighing competing interests and rights can involve necessary sacrifices. As Head of the Social Council for our annual student summit, I had to choose whether to have freedom of speech or to comply with the law. Under the Sedition Act, having discussions about affirmative action for the country’s ethnic majority, of which I am part, is considered an offence. The concept of the highest good in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics helped me evaluate whether the mild censorship I had to grapple with was necessary or just. I decided that in this case, censorship was not justified, because the highest good of democratic legitimacy requires that all laws be subject to an open debate in which everyone can participate, even if their preferences cannot always be satisfied.
My internship at CIMB, a leading bank in Southeast-Asia, gave me an insight into how rules have a profound influence on moral conduct. Although the financial evaluator whom I shadowed had the authority to access our clients’ confidential information, he would have faced disciplinary action if he did so without a legitimate reason. These rules help to protect the clients’ right to privacy and they cultivate integrity amongst financiers. This observation developed my interest in law’s interaction with morality. I explored this relationship further in R v Brown and R v Wilson – both cases raised a compelling question: when should consensual harm be legal, and why? I am curious as to whether there can be a truly objective moral standard, as suggested by natural law. As Brown demonstrates, judges and commentators can disagree about the moral standard, suggesting that such standards are in fact subjective. The fact that tolerance in contemporary society influenced the legality of consensual harm also appears to require a subjective view of morality. The subjectivity and complexity of legal philosophy was, to me, an example of the rewarding difficulty I hope to encounter whilst reading law.
A recent Malaysian case, Muhamad Juzaili v Negeri Sembilan, showed me how fundamental changes can occur within constructs of the constitution and existing principles. Three transgender women successfully challenged the threat of imprisonment for “cross-dressing” – a punishable offence for Muslims, who are subject to both civil and Sharia law. Founding the college’s first girls’ touch rugby team gave me a personal experience of implementing change within existing rules. I realised that overcoming common perceptions and norms; that girls ought to play some sports and not others, like netball instead of rugby; was a small but definitive step in empowering the women of my school.
Participating in Model United Nations conferences refined my skills of verbal argument. It helped me to win support for my stance and to defuse tense situations diplomatically – I was chosen Best Speaker and Most Diplomatic Delegate at two conferences. The challenge of mastering excitingly daunting Grade 8 piano pieces and concepts in musical theory was one which I thoroughly enjoyed.
At university, I hope to further explore the concepts of social justice and to establish my interest in law’s interaction with morality.
If you've found this insightful, read Kamilia's articles on: