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    Update on Saturday, March 9, 2002 8:17 AM

Blame AUKU? or blame ourselves, student leaders?

From: Suntzi Jr (

I read Zali Arifin's writing with great interest. Indeed, in my point of view, Zali was right to question why student movements, particularly the famous few formed by Muslim students, are allowing non-student middle-agers to lead the organization and granting them the power the dictate the direction of students' struggles.

Let's do some simple calculations: In Malaysia, more than 70% of the population is under 40 years old, and currently there are more than 4,000 youth organizations in the country, with more than 2,000 of them are being classified as 'inactive' (or lembab!)

From another perspective, the number tells us that, in Malaysia, there are still a great amount of youth organizations being left to dry up without relevant youth leadership. Ironically, however, instead of venturing into this sector, these middle-aged people prefer to stamp their leadership on the students' foreheads, and shamelessly claim themselves as 'a youth leader' by riding on a student movement.

Why do these so-called 'youth leaders' are abandoning the label of 'student leader' when they know (and we all know) that he/she is the chief of a movement formed by university students?

The truth is (listen up, you middle-aged 'student leaders'!) YOU ARE ALL COWARDS because you don't have the guts to fight the right battles in youth organizations. Lets not forget that leadership in student movements requires an aspiration that is close to their emotional appeal for better welfare, improvement in education standards, betterment of logistic and infrastructure in the campus and sheer focus in working towards academic excellence.

But the truth is, many of those so called 'student leaders' are more eager to send innocent students for illegal demonstrations, election campaigns and listen to ceramahs staged by Pas or Keadilan leaders. I urge you, student leaders, tepuk dada tanya selera, is this what the students want? Are listening to ceramahs and helping in election campaigns improving the welfare and the academic performance of the students? How does that make a student the top student in his or her class? How does that make the student's parents proud as their child is only good in off-campus politics but will have to graduate with poor results?

I was never a Malay or a Muslim, therefore I am going to skip the discussion of the influence of Islam that, in my point of view, is being used and manipulated at the expense of the students' future merely for the sake of political interest outside the campus. But to my Muslim brothers and sisters out there, I wish to reveal a cruel truth - while you lead your boys for some stupid illegal demonstrations on the road, non-Muslim students are giving their best in their academics and are sweating blood for good examination results.

At the end of the day, as statistics already tell us, there are less than 1%, in average, of Bumiputera students in Malaysia graduating with a first-class degree in all IPTAs, while most non-Bumi students just smile and leave the campus with at least a second-upper and a clean disciplinary record.

Are Bumiputera students genetically stupid? Of course NOT!! Why? Because human beings are born equal, one brain each, no more no less. If Bumiputera are stupid, Malaysia won't have Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir, Royal Prof Ungku Aziz, the late Aminuddin Baki, Tan Sri Awang Had Salleh, Tan Sri Dr Noordin Sopiee, Datuk Dr Zeti Aziz, Datuk Seri Hj Hadi Awang, the late Tan Sri P Ramlee, the late Sudirman Hj Arshad and many other distinguished figures.

Although you might argue that those non-Bumiputra students are ulat buku, mandom, tak guna, lembab and whatever label you want to throw at them. But I urge you to take a look at the other side of the coin - they will get a better job and with the job security, they can help to support their family and their parents. So how does that compare to being held and detained by the police; dragged into a disciplinary hearing; the risk of being suspended (which will definitely delay your graduation); criminal records; a bad reputation and ending up being the water boy of certain politicians?

Human beings are born selfish, and irresponsible student leaders will make them more selfish because these student leaders believe that 'kita mesti menentang kezaliman', 'kita mesti menentang korupsi dan nepotisma', 'kita mahu kebebasan dan hak bersuara' and other beautiful philosophies.

For those who have aggressively preached the values mentioned, I respect your energy and enthusiasm, but please leave the students alone as they can also learn to appreciate those values without the risk of being detained by the police or being suspended by the varsity. They have the right to determine their own future, and I am certain that the spirit of 'perjuangan mahasiswa' must not be driven by some non-student middle-agers or those who set up some illegal varsities with a fantasy that one day Education Ministry will grant them a piece of land to build its own campus.

On the halal-haram aspect of the student movements, I guess Zali can articulate the chapter better than I can. My intention here is just to express my frustration after witnessing personally how my Muslim brothers and sisters being fooled by sub-standard politikus into a trap and when they are accused and incarcerated, no one is there to help them.

How many of us believe that sending memorandums to Ministers and bringing the matter to the press will extend the lifeline of those sent to AUKU's chopping board?

How many of us believe that praying alone will provide the solution to all our problems? How many of us believe that by staging illegal assemblies and confronting the government will eventually force the authority to amend or abolish the controversial AUKU? How many innocent souls do those irresponsible 'student leaders' want to sacrifice just to satisfy their personal agenda?

Again, tepuk dada tanya selera

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