The Law Club elections are long over by now, but we’ll all remember this round of elections as something different from the previous years’ – contested! Two factions (or rather, one faction and a single person) campaigning vigorously against each other at the start of the semester, handing out a variety of baked goods and even installing a chocolate fountain, plastering the lift lobbies with posters. With the votes all counted and positions sorted out, Justified is hoping to start a tradition of interviewing the incumbent elected members of Law Club.
In order to make things more interesting, we decided to tag on an additional psychological test to delve deep into the murky recesses of the members’ brains. The test is simple, we hand them a post-it note and ask them to draw 1) a person 2) standing in the rain. From this, we can hopefully glean information about the artists’ personalities through their respective masterpieces. Here is a quick run-down of what the different elements of the drawing mean – but very simply, the amount of rain correlates to stress, and having an umbrella or raincoat (or absence thereof) indicates the artist’s employment of (or conspicuous lack of) coping mechanisms.
Bao Huei (President)
Q: Why did you want to run for Law Club? In particular, why did you run for the position of President?
Actually, running for Law Club wasn’t one of the first things I wanted to do after Orientation. I ran for Orientation because I genuinely felt that Orientation was a way to give back to school – and experiencing Orientation in my own year showed me that it was a way to find one’s place in law school: in terms of academics, friends, and interests.
One day I was eating with Ee Ning (CJC Pres, ex-FOCC vice-chairperson) and she was asking me what I planned to do after FOCC. So I thought about it, and she suggested Law Club. At that point, I wasn’t really sure whether I wanted to put myself out there for another year, and having been elected before in Hwa Chong Institution I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to have that pressure again. She said that there were a lot of things that needed to be changed – for example in terms of attitudes and various other small things. I felt that I could change those things in Law school, and make it a warmer and nicer place. At the end of my tenure, I hope I can look back and see that I’ve made a difference in at least a few individuals’ lives, or changed someone’s life in law school, even for a while.
Q: The campaign effort this year was, well… let’s just call it unusually enthusiastic. Assuming that you were the one who spearheaded the initiative, what was your reasoning behind that brand of enthusiasm?
The message of the campaign was quite easily understandable- HEARTH – it was catchy and cool lah (sic). And we do see the attempts to spoof us <coughing>.
The effort behind the campaign is linked to the reason why we need a warmer law school, which most of us have heard enough about already. We wanted to show that we didn’t take it for granted that we were the only team running; we wanted to change the impression of not only our team but of Law Club as a whole. Currently, the sentiment is that Law Club is quite detached from the student population at times, even though so many of them have sacrificed so much behind the scenes. It is about changing people’s impressions of people on the ground by interacting more with them. We want to promote the idea of servant-leadership – representing students’ interests, and creating a more cohesive environment in Law school outside of isolated pods and little cliques. I want people to break out of this cycle and interact outside of those little silos.
Q: What is/are the main vision(s) for your term as president?
So this goes back to HEARTH, and you have to forgive me because we really spent a lot of time on it.
Heart represents the welfare initiatives targeting what people really need. It’s about interrogating the purpose behind everything that we do – e.g. Do we really need a Block B party? A lounge? Do we need to have QWP / IFG / LawMed, and what do all these activities exist for? At the heart of the matter, it is what this is about.
Ear is the lynchpin! Because without an Ear and listening you won’t know where your Heart truly is. I want to listen to what people really want. So Rachel (Vice President) and I were discussing the main reason why people lose touch, which is that people feel desensitised and that student leadership hasn’t really been on the ground, that their feedback hasn’t really been processed. We’ll classify it now as received, in-progress (what is being pushed forward), and completed (where it is sustainable/ put in place).
Rachel also brought in a new initiative – which is the idea of having Focus Groups. Basically, if anyone sees somebody in the Law Club room and wants to have a discussion about their ideas or give any feedback, they’re welcome to. It is leading by example, you know, you want people who talk about problems, then, you also, as the Law Club, have to talk about the problems with the events that you are running.
Every year, the batch inherits a set of policies and initiatives – and it is for the better. Actually, we are all here for a while only – even if I don’t have a finished product at the end of the year, hopefully future law clubs can continue building on it la (sic). I just want to start doing something, and hopefully, people with similar visions can continue building on it in the future.
Earth is supposed to be a mentorship system. It is a roll of dice whether you get good support in law school. If you’re lucky you have seniors you know already, or have good OGLs or OGCs – but of course, not everyone believes that these relationships can be maintained outside of orientation. I wanted these relationships to persist, because otherwise what other use is there for orientation?
There must be stakes for both sides entering into a mentorship – seniors must get something out of it; juniors too. Hopefully the mentorship system may be something that can kick off something bigger like a house system, or something like that.
At the end of the day, these forms of things are so intangible – in two or three years the only thing that’ll be left is the structure of things.
At some point, if someone comes up and thanks me, saying “hey we had fun” or “it was meaningful”, it would be enough for us. In the end, the assurance we receive is very verbal in nature – and it really means a lot to us.
Q: Did you expect to run in a “contested” election? What was your honest reaction to it?
No. Honestly, I was like huh, really ah. After that, I was like, a little competition can’t hurt. It was a very humbling experience- it was a really good introduction as in – a short diversion.
In FOCC, if you do something wrong, the main feedback loop is your committee members, then your OGLs, then your OGCs. Here, this is different, the feedback was really based on how people reacted emotionally – which is why ‘Ear’ is so important, because it helps to know what people think of your campaigning.
The competition, well, was a good thing – there was never a real need previously to campaign or publicise to the extent we did, and it made Law School really… much more invested and excited with what was going on- people really had initiatives to bring forward to us. So on hindsight the competition wasn’t a completely bad thing.
Q: Every year there’s a suggestion that the person with the highest votes should be the President – what do you think?
BH pauses to think for a while.
I feel like, elected office is not just about popularity and numbers – numbers only tell part of a story. If people really want to choose this I think they’d really pick someone best for the job – and I’m not saying I’m best for the job.
I think that people should be elected to the position that they will perform best in, and are most interested in. Eventually at the end of the day, if someone ran against me as president and had better ideas, and the votes reflected that his ideas were better – then law school gets to benefit and I would have no opposition to it.
In any case, if law school gets to benefit, then the purpose of our campaign is accomplished. So the real question is whether the people involved are pushing in the real and correct direction.
Q: Being in LawAsia, previous FOCC Chair, and now the Law Club President – How do you juggle all of this?
I don’t, my grades just die.
The transition between FOCC and Law Club was quite tough, and um, doing LawAsia was quite intense also, and I’m not even the worst-hit person out there – there are people who have LawAsia and a 50% LSA paper, and the finals paper for the Mallal moots. (Shoutout to Abi if you’re reading this, she’s really working very hard!)
In general, it really boils down to what your priorities are.
I know – and my friends let me know (and my grades also let me know) – that grades are important, but I feel like… grades are certainly important to me and I’ve been studying harder than I did in Year One. But with every non-academic experience I’ve had, I feel like I learn a lot about myself – like FOCC. University is not somewhere you just get a degree, and then buzz off after – you’re supposed to learn how to better cope with the world out there.
Q: We feel like you may need a break. What’s your ideal holiday destination?
Do I need a break? Yes, I do need a break. Maybe a short two-day break.
Not a short one, we hastily clarify. Like as long as you want.
I’ve always talked with my girlfriend that Taiwan would be a good retirement place. The food is good, the climate is good, the people are nice (Ee Ning adds: You can just ride a motorcycle along the sea). So if I could I would really just, go to Taiwan for a short break with my girlfriend.
Q: How many hours of table tennis do you play every week?
Too much. I eat Jaye for breakfast.
Bao Huei draws his picture with the thin tip of the blue marker. He adds in another person under his umbrella, maybe a testament to his lasting relationship with his girlfriend.
When we tell him to sign his name, he… really signs it. That’s squiggly B shape is his signature, not a scribble (take note – easy forgery). We then tell him to write something that we could actually read, after which he scrawls in “Sia Bao Huei”.
Q: Why did you want to run for Law Club, and why as Vice-President and not President?
She looks down at her phone with a face and says, “Oh no… I only wrote down initiatives”.
When I was doing FOCC I just wanted to do it well, and see where it goes la (sic) – and afterwards, Bao Huei asked me if I wanted to join Law Club. I thought I didn’t want to just be doing academic stuff in school (which was the same motivation I had for joining FOCC) – and I realised while planning matriculation week I had an affinity for planning something more, I guess.
So why vice president? I’m happy to be in a role that I can contribute well in lah (sic). At that point in time, I was considering a few options and when Bao asked me I decided why not? I know I can work quite well with him and big picture wise I see myself fitting into the role quite well, in terms of overseeing everyone’s events.
Q: The last term, we weren’t quite sure what role the Vice-President played – what is your role, and what do you intend to do?
Okay honestly like, I feel like the President and Vice-President roles are quite symbolic in nature, so it’s quite hard to pinpoint what exactly I do.
But to everyone else – basically, my main job with law club is to oversee, together with BH, the different Law Club directed events and welfare, to see if everything is in line with our vision. We are also involved in NUSSU Council – we attend monthly meetings, which I think a lot of Law School doesn’t know about? We hope that we can learn from other faculties how people do things and see how we can improve, and ensure that law school’s priorities are not jeopardised just because we’re on a different campus.
I am the main liaison to all the sub-clubs, between all the different sub-club presidents to ensure that all the sub-clubs kind of work in synergy. It’s something I want to achieve in my term: to make sure that there is more communication between sub-clubs, that there is a possibility of collaboration, and that their initiatives don’t conflict.
The more saikang part of my job is well.. stuff like loaning the sound system, and issues with booking rooms and stuff. I liaise a lot with Mr Razali.
Q: What are the initiatives Law Club has in mind for the upcoming term?
We want to increase transparency and improve the feedback system – so everyone should do the survey! So we know, at least, how students feel towards the initiatives that we are going to have and their receptivity towards our ideas.
Q: We recall a proposal last year to install a feedback box outside the LCR?
We haven’t really… planned to do that… yet? At the moment? It is possible. Currently we’re looking at more online mediums first.
Q: Rachel, you seem really nice. When was the last time you lost your temper?
Rachel laughs nervously.
It’s easier for me to be angry towards like, um, people who are related to me like my brother. So I was a bit angry at him – (Editors note: light digression where Rachel contemplates that her brother may read this, as it is going online) because he wanted me to teach him but when I went into his room he was using his phone.
That was the last time?
Yeah, and it was about a month ago. Actually during Matric Week I had to give the OGLs a “scolding”, but after that they came back to me and told me it wasn’t really a scolding.
Q: How many pairs of earrings do you own, and what’s the most you’ve ever spent on a pair?
A lot. Approximately like… uh… forty to fifty. Do you count the studs? I’ve actually spent very little… I usually buy from Korea where it’s like $1 a pair. My most valuable pair is probably a gift from my aunt.
Actually, if I count my older earrings there’s probably more. I keep my nine-year old earrings for memories. I also have this thing where I keep my earrings into their original packaging.
Rachel begins her drawing by methodically picking out the colours of her choice from the set of markers. “I need lots of blue,” she mumbles, “Is there black?” She then asks if she should draw straight on the notepad, concerned that the colour would pass through.
“I wanna draw someone dabbing, but I need a pencil.” As she says this, we begin rummaging through the communal stationery for one. “Bao Huei will be so proud of me.” Using the pencil, she does a rough sketch on the first piece of paper, and then begins her second pass using a black permanent marker. Each time she finishes using a colour, she puts it back in the marker pack.
She declares she’s done, and when we ask her to sign her name at the bottom, she chooses instead to decorate the shirt of the man.
Trixie (Honourable General Secretary)
Q: Why did you run for Law Club, and why for HGS?
Why ah (sic)?
I think I knew that I wanted to do something – it’s the same reason why I joined FOCC mainly, I just wanted to do something apart from just Law school academics. I knew that I didn’t want to do PB or CJC because I don’t like… like, law-related things, so I knew that welfare groups like FOCC and Law Club would interest me!
As for why HGS specifically… um, I think I knew that I didn’t want to do a particular event – like not Law Careers Fair, or be the in charge of all the little welfare things and events. I wanted to play a more supportive role, hence HGS attracted me. I knew also that I didn’t want to be President, Vice-President or any of the finance-related positions.
You basically got there from the process of elimination?
Yes, yes. There are a lot of roles but this is best suited for me.
Q: Moving from FOCC Secretary to now, Law Club Secretary – you’ve moved from managing OGLs now to managing the Class Committee. Do you enjoy this, Trixie? Are you a power-freak?
The reason why I enjoy it right (sic), is because, at least it’s something that I don’t mind doing. I guess. I don’t know man (sic) – it’s not really a controlling thing. Like (sic) if I was a power freak I would have run for President or Vice-President right? I mean no offence. You’re setting me up!
Q: Have these positions affected your proficiency in Microsoft Office / Google Drive?
Yes it really has. I have learnt so much about Microsoft Excel: I have learnt how to print Microsoft Excel sheets efficiently, like, I don’t have to print five sets to get what I want…
Seeing our confusion, Trixie explains further.
The thing about Excel is that it is not… idiot-proof. So if I want to print excel sheets like, the freshmen’s food requirements, sometimes you print the sheet and then it’s like over two different sheets of paper… Anyway, I learnt how to print stuff efficiently.
Sometimes I have people submitting T-shirt sizes for, for example, XL, and then the same person will turn around and tell me, “actually, I would prefer an S.” And then for food requirements, some people will tell me, “I am allergic to [REDACTED]”. What even is that? What is a [REDACTED]?” Someone told me “I put that I stayed in the West but actually I stay in the East.” How does one even get that wrong?
Q: Roughly how much personal information of people have you inadvertently memorised?
Uhh. I remember like there came a time where I saw this freshie’s name where I was like, “Yeah, he’s in OG 12”. And then everyone was like, what? It was then confirmed that I was correct. It also got to a point where I said stuff like, pretty sure OG [REDACTED] has like 3 XS shirts. And I would be right.
Q: The HGS takes meeting minutes, yes? How many words do you type a minute? Are you tired of taking notes yet?
Minutes ah (sic). I think my minutes are quite trashy honestly, because no one reads them. And some things are quite irrelevant – and they discuss things off topic. I guess minutes are supposed to be the flow of the meeting, so should I include these off topic discussions? I don’t.
You know I actually took down minutes for the Internal Elections, but then I had to stop because I wasn’t technically a HGS yet. Also, I think I can’t type very fast; actually I usually just summarise and it’s not verbatim.
Q: What do you listen to when you drive?
Oh! Uh… Anything that I can sing, or songs that I know the lyrics to, so I can sing when I drive. It’s quite fun actually!
Throughout her interview, Trixie was drawing a pattern of flowers on the memopad in front in front of her. When we tell her about the Rain Test, she draws her picture quickly, with a light blue marker, and doesn’t put it back when she leaves.
Q: Why did you run for Law Club, and why as Finance Director? Do you have previous accounting experience?
Finance because – firstly, I had experience during RAG as secretary-treasurer, so I did a bit of the work (e.g. receipt stuff and all that) – I enjoyed that… not completely… but I enjoyed that. I became quite familiar with the processes and stuff, and finance director involved something like that, so I was quite comfortable with my scope though it’s quite different from what I did previously.
For Law club in general, it’s because I wanted to try something different and just being a part of something bigger.
Q: The previous Finance Director always asked us to deposit Request for Payment forms in her mailbox – but now that mailboxes have been annihilated, what are we supposed to do?
I have set up this arrangement where every Thursdays the treasurers pass me forms, so I can use the weekend to clear the forms. I can also just meet them wherever, I’m quite flexible timing-wise.
Q: How about just setting up a box outside law club?
Yeah, actually, that’s not a bad idea.
Q: Why won’t you give us money, Lidiya?
Actually no – I think – I don’t know. The school budget system is quite weird. It’s like, a lot of things before I came in I thought I wanted to do, but once you know how the things work – like going through the school, and the NUS-main side – there’s a lot of practical stuff, so it’s hard to allocate adequate club funds to all the different sub-clubs sometimes.
In terms of income, the school doesn’t give like a specific cap, e.g. here’s $10k, and do whatever you want. We have to offset expenditure and income – so if you get more money you can spend more I guess – but we can’t just spend for like random things. It’s difficult to gauge, since there is no specific cap. It is a lot of just banking on whether they’ll allow it or not, and just estimate the overall amount given so that it’s not too exorbitant.
Q: Any ideas on how to make the process simpler?
There’s no way to make this simpler – it’s how things are.
As for transparency, a lot of people don’t really know how funding works or how the school gets money to do certain things. Some people don’t really understand why some people get money and why others don’t get enough to do what they want. I personally think if people want money to do whatever stuff they should just get the money to do it lah (sic) – because hello. But there’s a lot of restrictions, on the school-side and stuff.
Q: Any ideas on how to make things more transparent?
For example, this year, I briefed the other treasurers and stuff on the budgeting. I don’t know if previous years really went into detail with how the funding process works – this year I really tried to like explain to them what OFS tells us and the process / procedures we need to go through. I don’t know if that would help with transparency but I hope that explaining it to them helps them understand a bit better and also see how it works properly.
Q: We heard that you had an answer prepared for if you were asked how you would handle the breakdown of a personal relationship- care to share it here?
Yeah okay. I typed it out okay, because I was so scared – what if they ask me this question and I’m unprepared so I thought I better prepare something.
Firstly, generally, I value neutrality with people even if there is a breakdown with personal relationships – even when you breakdown with friends and stuff. Especially in a working relationship, it forces people to be extra aware of stuff and be like “oh my gosh, there’s tension”. So I feel like even if there is a breakdown of personal relationships- we need to be careful not to bring in any emotional baggage we have into the working environment. It’s a lot easier said than done, but that’s how I’ll deal with it if something like that ever happens.
Q: How are you so consistently fashionable? When did you start getting into this? Do you always wear makeup? What are your greatest style inspirations?
Yeah I always do – oh my gosh – people can go school in like 5 minutes, but it takes so much longer for me. All that time I could be using to sleep, studying or watching Youtube videos. It’s a personal thing, I just want to feel and look nice. In the morning I spend around 20+ minutes.
I plan my outfits. I like to write stuff down. At the bottom of my week’s schedule I actually have a section where I write like my outfits for the week. It helps minimise the time I spend thinking about what to wear in the morning. So if I have formal events on that day, I know to dress slightly more formal.
Oh, and this started only in university! Because in JC I had a uniform so I don’t need to plan what to wear. But I’ve always been this kind of person, I just like to dress up and this kind of stuff.
Has there been a day where you just… don’t?
No! I’ll feel weird.
Even during exam days?
No, not even then! It’s like, when people go pee in the morning… it’s like if I don’t go to pee. I just feel… weird man.
Lidiya makes full use of the marker set provided. She draws a sun in her picture, despite the stipulation of having the person be in the rain. Her person stands in the middle, coloured in orange, smiling happily, with two steady streams of raindrops falling down. She places all the markers back upon completion of her drawing.
Thank you all for reading! This is Part 1 in a series of posts interviewing the 39th Law Club MC. Justified would like to thank them for their patience and cooperation.