A law background comes in very useful for a career in politics. This is because politics is closely intertwined with law. Three bodies – the judiciary, legislative and executive – maintain the country’s democracy.
Lawyers and judges work within the judiciary, defending the innocent and dispensing justice. The legislative is where the laws that are upheld in the judiciary are made. Hence having a law background makes sense when you are enacting new laws or amending old ones.
The legislative is governed by three main components. At the top is the parliament. Then you have the two levels where laws are enacted - one at state level called the state legislature and the other at national level called the senate.
The two levels differ in their responsibilities. At state level, the power of the law is limited to state matters such as land. A representative with a law degree is more able to deal with the technicalities involved in passing a new law. He or she will be aware of complications arising from passing a new law and how it would impact a previous ruling. With a background in law, you will also be able to debate better in the legislature or parliament. This is partly due to the fact that you have more knowledge at your fingertips than the other representatives without a law background. The other reason is because your training in advocacy will help you argue effectively so that you may be more influential in the decision-making process.
Outside of the state legislative, knowledge of the law can mobilise the elected representative to serve their constituency better. Rising numbers of snatch thefts in your neighbourhood? Poor road conditions? Your elected representative can seek the right alternative to solve your problems, whether it’s dealing with the police department, the local government or the cabinet. The law graduate can deal with issues more efficiently and effectively.
The third area where the law graduate can succeed in is in the executive. The executive body is divided into the cabinet, the various ministries and the various government departments. While the legislative creates laws and the judiciary maintains the law, the executive is tasked with the general running of the country. The highest office is the prime minister’s office, led by the prime minister himself. Malaysia has had a few prime ministers who were lawyers. Their law backgrounds gave them a thorough understanding of the system they worked in and helped in scrutinising laws and implementing new public policies. They had a firm grasp of the constitution and can steer the country towards economic and political stability.
The prime minister is aided by ministers who, when equipped with a law degree, can better tackle the assortment of issues within their ministry. A minister for women’s welfare can lobby for new rulings that promote equality while a person in the public works ministry can evaluate the law governing issues that arise during a crisis such as a collapsed bridge.
As a diplomat, you can see the world through different job postings. A diplomat’s main task is to represent the country and promote goodwill in other countries. You will oversee the welfare of Malaysians abroad and engage in diplomacy with other foreign politicians.
At the top level, an ambassador can engage top officials in foreign countries for face-to-face discussions on bilateral relationships on behalf of their country. Naturally, a law degree translates to more effective communication and bilateral relationships. Imagine being able to represent your country and discuss and debate foreign policy with representatives of other governments. A law degree will give you the skill and knowledge to do this.
DID YOU KNOW?
Here are some interesting facts about a few parliament buildings:
The bench in the middle of the Houses of Parliament is 2 ½ sword lengths long. This is to keep the government and the opposition at least a sword’s length away from each other in case the debate becomes too heated.
The Malaysian parliament house is designed in the shape of a pineapple with beehive-like ornamental patterns that, together with heat and light absorbing glass, controls the light and heat of the interior environment.