Life experiences: Derek Kok, intern & LexisNexis Student Ambassador shares his journey of advancing the Rule of Law with LexisNexis

The International Islamic University, represented by Arinah Najwa and Syed Saddiq, emerged victorious in the inaugural British Parliamentary-style LexisNexis Rule of Law Debate, winning USD 2,000 cash and USD 3,000 worth of LexisNexis publications for their institution. The duo defeated the National University of Singapore's Robin Teo and Imran Rahim, Universitas Indonesia's Terry Muthahhari and Roderick Sibarani, and Elmer Cruz and Lee Yarcia of the University of the Philippines on the motion “This House Believes That the ASEAN Declaration of Human Rights Is an Ineffective Safeguard of Human Rights”.

(L-R): Prof Dr Hunud Abia Kadouf, Dean of International Islamic University Law Faculty; Shawn Clark, CEO of LexisNexis Asia; Dato’ Mah Weng Kwai, Judge of the Court of Appeal; Syed Saddiq and Arinah Najwa.

Robin Teo and Imran Rahim (National University of Singapore)

Terry Muthahhari and Roderick Sibarani (Universitas Indonesia)

Elmer Cruz and Lee Yarcia (University of the Philippines)

Arinah and Saddiq, speaking from Closing Opposition, convincingly argued that it is far too early to condemn the five-month-old ASEAN Declaration of Human Rights as an ineffective safeguard of human rights. Instead, the quarterfinalists of this year's World Universities Debating Championship asserted that the ASEAN Declaration provides an invaluable platform for fundamental rights and liberties to undergo a process of maturation and growth within the respective member states.

Arinah Najwa and Syed Saddiq (International Islamic University)

The LexisNexis Rule of Law Debate 2013 aimed to create awareness and facilitate discussions about the ASEAN Declaration of Human Rights and to broaden the whirlwind of discussion on human rights issues today, bringing together partners and customers of LexisNexis to create new partnerships, initiatives and projects which will further advance the rule of law in the region. Statistics from the day – with more than 17,000 live stream views and the Twitter hashtag #LN4ROL trending at No. 1 in Malaysia – provide a glimpse of the LexisNexis Rule of Law Debate as a significant milestone in the advancement of the rule of law through both word and deed.

The debaters in action.

The adjudication panel
(L-R): Faisal Moideen, Managing Partner of Moideen & Max; Shawn Clark, CEO of LexisNexis Asia; Dato’ Mah Weng Kwai, Judge of the Court of Appeal; Iqbal Hafiedz, CEO of Malaysian Institute for Debate & Public Speaking; and Harris Chai, First Secretary (Political) of the High Commission of the Republic of Singapore.

In many ways, the LexisNexis Rule of Law Debate on March 7 was also a personal milestone for me: it marked the culmination of nearly six months’ worth of effort and preparation as a LexisNexis Student Ambassador tasked with leading this project during my internship at LexisNexis.

You know the feeling when you go on a rollercoaster ride and the safety harness is lowered onto you? Your heart beats with nervous anticipation as your sweaty palms grip the rubber bar, your mind understands that in a few seconds you’ll be thrown into the air at nauseating ferocity, but nothing prepares your heart, mind and soul for that moment when the rollercoaster dives down a steep slope at 80mph.

While my mind understood the gargantuan task that stood before me, it wasn’t until I was immersed in the thick of things that the gravity of my responsibilities weighed on me. I was responsible for the A-to-Z of the entire event: the format of the event including the debate itself, the other proceedings of the day such as the keynote lecture and a panel forum, the order and sequence of the event proceedings, the line-up of speakers and debaters, the guest list, publicity strategies and promotional materials, matters regarding the videography and live stream, and a whole myriad of other to-do lists.

From organisational skills to corporate communication etiquette, the experience and skills I gained while interning at LexisNexis were invaluable and will surely hold me in good stead when I enter the working world. I learned how to work and interact in a corporate environment, and in a multinational firm no less. Effective management was crucial as I had to juggle the duties and responsibilities of an intern and Student Ambassador while I read law. Working on this project gifted me the opportunity to acquire and sharpen different skill sets from a variety of disciplines like events management, copywriting, and marketing, among many others.

While such knowledge, skills and experiences were crucial to both my personal and professional development, my stint at LexisNexis has instead provided me a different kind of lesson. It has given me a glimpse of something else - the vision of a landscape that law school has failed to open my eyes to. In law school, any self-respecting law student is accustomed to hearing the usual platitudes surrounding the rule of law, with much academic ink spilled over the rigmarole of defining the rule of law and what it truly means.

In LexisNexis, however, I have seen for myself that the rule of law is so much more than a mere academic construct or an abstract philosophical notion. Advancing the rule of law is truly LexisNexis’ driving purpose as a business - I can attest that it is not just a feel-good marketing ploy or PR exercise; the walk clearly matches the talk. It is nothing short of inspiring to see how LexisNexis is actively engaged in advancing the rule of law through global initiatives to combat human trafficking and to promote transparency of legal systems.

This philosophy is imbued into the very DNA of the whole company – I saw for myself how LexisNexis employees like Shawn Clark, LexisNexis Asia’s CEO, and Gaythri Raman, LexisNexis Asia’s Head of Customer Discovery & Innovation are passionately and genuinely committed to this cause. This wasn’t just hypocritical puffs or empty chatter – I was truly inspired by what I saw for myself at LexisNexis. Gaythri constantly reminded me that all of us have a part to play. In fact, I myself had the opportunity to work on #LNxHT, LexisNexis Malaysia’s anti-trafficking campaign, and to participate in many other rule of law initiatives during the course of my internship.

The author, as Speaker of the House at the LexisNexis Rule of Law Debate 2013

LexisNexis Student Ambassadors with Shawn Clark at #LNxHT on September 8, 2012.

It was also around the period of my internship that my health took a turn for the worse. I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis over a year ago. Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory auto-immune disorder, which will cause the eventual fusion of the spine. Due to this condition, the soft tissue and muscles primarily at my spine and sacroiliac joint are constantly inflamed, causing me severe pain and constant lethargy. My symptoms flared up during this period, but knowing that I could make a difference, or as Gaythri is prone to say, “move the needle”, gave me the motivation and inspiration to keep going.

The LexisNexis Rule of Law Debate 2013 on March 7 was the culmination of the many inspiring lessons I learned as an intern and Student Ambassador at LexisNexis. If there is only one thing I have gained from my experience in LexisNexis, it is knowing that the rule of law is not an abstruse theoretical concept, but something we all can contribute towards.

Derek Kok is a LexisNexis Student Ambassador. He tweets at @derekqiren when he is not ploughing through thick legal tomes.*
Join us in advancing the rule of law. Intern with us. Be a Student Ambassador. Email

Welcoming address: Shawn Clark, CEO of LexisNexis Asia

Keynote lecture: Lim Chee Wee, President of Malaysian Bar (2011-2013)

Panel forum - “Do We Need An ASEAN Court of Human Rights
(L-R): Edmund Bon, Partner of Chooi & Co.; Syahredzan Johan, Partner of Ram Rais & Partners; and Faisal Moideen, Managing Partner of Moideen & Max.

The audience.

Universitas Indonesia’s Roderick Sibarani requesting for a Point of Information while National University of Singapore’s Robin Teo debates the motion.


The audience in full concentration
(L-R): Maureen Essex, Managing and Training Director of International Bridges to Justice; Heikki Vandermander, First Secretary of Embassy of Belgium;
Iqbal Hafiedz, CEO of Malaysian Institute for Debate & Public Speaking; and Andrew Khoo, Co-Chairperson of the Bar Council’s Human Rights Committee.

The debaters.

Follow our discussions on twitter via hashtag #LN4ROL today . To learn more about the LexisNexis Rule of Law Debate 2013, click here
To learn more about how LexisNexis advances the Rule of Law, click here