Digerati50: The legal eagle techie
By Edwin Yapp September 2, 2016
- If he had not studied law, Foong would have taken up computer-related studies
- Continues to educate the public through his blog, LoyarBurok
Digital News Asia (DNA) continues its weekly series that profiles the top 50 influencers, movers and shakers who are helping shape Malaysia’s Digital Economy, from Digerati50 Vol 2, a special print publication released in February 2016. To download a special e-reader version, see the top right corner of this page. For information on customised reprints of Digerati50, email [email protected].
FOONG Cheng Leong became a lawyer because his mother told him to.
“When I was young, I asked my mom what I should become when I grow up, and she said: ‘Become a lawyer!’ So I did,” quips the founder of law firm Foong Cheng Leong & Co.
“But if I had not become a lawyer, I would have taken up a course that had to do with computers,” he quickly adds.
Law and technology may sound an unlikely combination, but Cheng Leong has proven otherwise. Today, he not only specialises in intellectual property law but also focuses on issues where the law intersects with technology.
Indeed, he finds the combination of law and technology fascinating. The 35-year-old had already been writing about law and technology as a student before 2005, the year he was called to the Malaysian Bar.
“Blogs were big when I was studying law at the University of Sheffield, so I started blogging then. I found that technology was very relevant to what I was studying as a law student.”
He began his career at Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill, but the turning point for Cheng Leong came in 2009, when the National Young Lawyers Committee was given a column in the English daily The Star called Putik Lada, which he contributed to.
His passion made him a natural to champion and advocate on matters related to the law and technology, and this moved up a notch when he became actively engaged in educating the public and creating awareness, through his columns and various forums he participated in, about the highly controversial Section 114A amendment to the Evidence Act 1950, otherwise known as Evidence (Amendment) (No 2) Act 2012.
In essence, Section 114A allows for wide-ranging powers to go after netizens’ online activities, and presumes guilt unless proven otherwise.
His participation in various forums on Section 114A that involved other lawyers, as well as activists and journalists, was his way of giving back to the community, he adds.
Today, Cheng Leong continues to educate the public through his own blog, LoyarBurok, the Digital Evidence and Electronic Signature Law Review, as well as his Bread & Kaya column in DNA, such as a recent one on the legality of Uber and GrabCar services in Malaysia.
He is also current co-chair, with Suaran Singh, of the newly established Ad Hoc Committee for Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), which has gathered data protection experts.
“We managed to draft a Code of Practice for lawyers as required by the PDPA,” he says.
When asked how he can continue to make an impact in the seemingly slow legal world, given that technology moves at such a fast pace, Cheng Leong says, “I think the law will always try to catch up with tech. So lawyers will [just] need to keep themselves updated with tech and innovation.”
“As for me, I will continue to push tech education to my colleagues and encourage them to use all available technology and innovation in their legal practice.”