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Unpacking Legal Issues with COVID & Co

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

By Aiman Azrai Samin

It has been an unorthodox year, to say the least, as people all around the globe have had to contend with a raging and dangerous pandemic, the COVID-19 virus. Aiman Azrai Samin, a Taylor’s Law School student, is well-aware of the challenges many are facing in these trying times. His team undertook the arduous but rewarding task of running a virtual legal clinic named “COVID & CO” for their community service module at Taylor’s Law School. 

Aiman’s reflection

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on everyone's lifestyle, drastically changing the status quo. Malaysia implemented the Movement Control Order (MCO) to flatten the curve and reduce the number of cases, but this necessary measure halted all movement and activity for most non-essential workers (the premier wording being for every citizen to ‘stay at home’). The implementation of such drastic measures left lingering effects, felt till this very day. 

The objective of this project was mainly to equip the public with information regarding their rights and obligations during the pandemic, ranging from topics on financial policies to the consequences of spreading fake news. This project was executed through Facebook, where viewers were able to ask questions related to the topic. Lucas Isaac (one of our group members) and I covered the topic of Employer's Rights & Obligations. Disclaimers were provided at the beginning of the session to inform viewers that we were not qualified, legal practitioners. This was done so viewers knew to understand that the advice came from us within our capacity as mere law students and to take it as such. Thus, we answered all of the questions accordingly to the best of our abilities. Based on the statistics provided by Facebook, our live video has had over 1800 views and has reached at least 2600 people. Additionally, we have reached more than 38000 people and over 5800 engagements in total of all of our live sessions and posts combined.

Through this project, I have come across various challenges that provided me with valuable insights. This project has pushed me to learn and adapt to the use of various new online platforms; my teammates and I had our meetings on Zoom and Microsoft throughout the planning and execution period and utilised Facebook to reach out to the public. Although I have had experience using online platforms to engage with the public for past projects, the platforms used were very limited. This project has improved my understanding and broadened my exposure to the use of many new online platforms. These online platforms provide flexibility as to where and when we can do our work; a feature that is especially crucial during this period as it allows companies and businesses to shift their physical work environment online.

More importantly, this project has also given me a deeper understanding of the legal industry. As our main role was to provide legal information to the public, it made me realise the importance of filtering information from sources to ensure that they are of the utmost reliability. This was to ensure that the information received by the public was accurate and useful for them. It was definitely challenging as there were very limited resources in regard to the regulations implemented and the pandemic was an unprecedented situation. Furthermore, during the MCO period, the regulations changed very often, and thus we had to ensure that not only were the sources reliable, they were also up to date. Despite that, we managed to pool our resources from the relevant ministries as well as articles from reliable websites that we discovered online. 

In terms of reaching out to the public, an improvement would be to use multiple social media platforms to increase the number of public viewers as the purpose of this project was to reach as many people as possible with the legal information we provided. If other social media platforms such as Instagram live and Youtube live were used, I believe that we would have been able to reach a larger audience. Additionally, the language used to disseminate information was limited to only English. This may have caused many other viewers to be unable to understand the legal information we provided. A huge improvement is if it could be done in other languages such as Bahasa Melayu. Another option available to mitigate this limitation is to provide subtitles to enable everyone to have a full understanding of the information provided.

Generally, this project has given me a deeper understanding of the practical side of the legal industry. Most importantly, it has allowed me to come to a realisation of the importance of the use of online platforms. Not only is it convenient, but it is also effective in executing various projects. This pandemic period has been tough for many people, with some facing retrenchment as businesses fail. I am positive that this project has given these people the information they needed to understand and help themselves rise above and beyond through all the issues faced, arising from this pandemic.

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