Sri Lanka says, “Would you like a hopper?”

I just got back from a 6 days trip to Colombo, Sri Lanka for LAWASIA conference. I’ve never been to that part of the world, so naturally I was pretty excited when I got the news that I will be joining the Malaysian Bar delegation to the conference. They told me that they were putting my name up to be a speaker to feature a young face of the Malaysian Bar, or something along that line.

Sometime later they said that I were to speak at the session on Business and Human Rights (BHR). I had given talks on human rights several times before, but never on a specific topic on BHR. So that was quiet nerve wracking. In the course of my research, I realised the topic is so, so wide! On top of that, I had quite a busy week in the days leading up to the conference. And so I did something I always promise myself to never do again, but always end up doing it, again. I finished work at the office at 2.00am, rushed home to pack until 4.00am, took a 2 hour nap, then rushed back to office to catch the transport to the airport at 7.30am. Thank God I was going with Karen who arranged our transport.

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Just before boarding

After all that, once we touched down and got to the hotel, I was completely worn out. It was impossible to prepare for my session. I woke up early the next day and started typing up until it was time to catch the chartered bus for the opening ceremony.

My session was scheduled to be the last session for the day so that gave me a bit of time to prepare. I decided to skip the breakout sessions right after the plenary session the next day to go through the presentation paper. My stomach was already upset from before the flight to Sri Lanka, so I decided to stay away from fully sampling Sri Lankan curries and other delicacies =( Lest I had to pull some dramatic exit while on the panel!

But thank God the presentation went alright, I think lah! I went about a minute overtime, but I managed to present all my points and even slotted in a shameless promotion of how great the Malaysian Bar is haha! Bar President and Bar secretary came into the room just as I was ending. Steven came up right after and was all “Well done, well done!” Yeah yeah… =_______=

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On the panel

Karen took pictures and it was quite clear from the photos that I was just immensely relieved the presentation was over haha!

A few people came up afterwards to introduce themselves and said they enjoyed the presentation. I got a smile permanently plastered on my face the entire night because of that. I’m glad I decided to write a full presentation paper instead of bullet points on a powerpoint presentation. When you don’t have much time to prepare, writing it out helps to arrange your thoughts better I feel.

With the presentation out of the way, I decided to enjoy the rest of the conference, and Sri Lanka! We had Sri Lanka Cultural Night on Saturday right by the sea. I love it! Although they could use more tables to accommodate everyone as it was a standing room. I think I was pretty worn out from the session earlier and that Sri Lanka is behind Malaysia by 3 hours. I was exhausted and decided to head back to hotel when it was only about 9pm!

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Grand Colombo was certainly a grand hotel. The room was fantastic. The building was attached to a mall so that was convenient if you need to get something quick. I love that the hotel location is very near the seaside of the Indian Ocean.

The staff and waitress were very attentive. Ooh I discovered that an apom is called a hopper here, and it’s like their national dish. Hopper this, hopper that. And they have sambal too, all kinds of sambal! Too bad my upset stomach kept me from really experiencing Sri Lankan food. Although there were times I simply ploughed on. They have fresh seafood and the best curries!

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Would you like a hopper?

We had few hours on the last day to do some shopping and checked out Colombo town. It’s a different kind of heat in Colombo during the day, but at night the weather was quite nice I must say. I got on their 3 wheeler tuk-tuk, which if you’re not careful, they might not use meter and over charge you.

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Independence Square
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Independence Square
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Colombo Lighthouse
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Seen outside Paradise Road, a shopping place

I didn’t actually think I was going to enjoy attending the conference as much as I did, as I was under the impression that it will be attended by only important, serious people discussing important, serious issues. While the issues were important and serious, the people I met were very nice, supportive and passionate about the issues discussed (there were a few interesting characters too haha!).

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I remember during Steven’s session when he spoke about the Malaysian government’s proposed amendments that threaten the independence of the Malaysian Bar. He got a standing ovation by the end of it. That was a moving show of solidarity I must say that I can’t help feeling proud to be a member of the Malaysian Bar.

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Thank you LAWASIA for showing how important it is for Bar associations around the world to support each other in maintaining the integrity and independence of the profession.

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Thank you Sri Lanka for the memories!

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