Prestige Malaysia's Top 40 under 40 2019: MELISSA SASIDARAN
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MELISSA SASIDARAN

Director, Lawyers for Liberty

The newly minted director of Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), a human rights and law reforms NGO, Melissa Sasidaran, was a self-confessed late bloomer when it comes to political awakening. Recounting her attachment with the Attorney General’s Chambers in 2007, she bore witness to water cannon being unleashed on rally goers, as well as seeing familiar faces behind bars for participating in a walk to mark the Human Rights Day during a visitation to the KL Court lockup. “All this left a mark and realisation that there was no tolerance for our basic rights as enshrined in our Federal Constitution by the then government,” she says. “Under the previous administration, we often saw our leaders paying lip service on the world stage that human rights were given due recognition in our laws. But back home that was not the truth.”
However, with the change of government, it doesn’t mean that it is going to be a stroll in the park for her. “A lot of work remains to be done as the progress on human rights reforms has been slow and unsatisfactory,” she says, despite there is more freedom now. The U-turn on the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the withdrawal from the Rome Statute reinforced her belief. With the opposition bereft of credibility, Melissa says, “LFL and other civil society organisations have a bigger role to play in scrutinising and checking executive actions to ensure that they (authorities) uphold the rule of law, protect fundamental rights and see through the necessary reforms.”

Melissa is wearing the Hublot Big Bang One Click Sang Bleu King Gold Pave; corsetted skirt from Dior