Okay. First and foremost, this article is not written to ‘bodek’ Dato’ Saifuddin, it is just to ‘celebrate’ his bravery and pragmatism in defending the rights of the students. Secondly, I doubt that this kind of effort will get much coverage by the mainstream medias, so let me at least try to ‘flood’ the alternative/online medias with this article. Thirdly, being a student myself not so long time ago, this topic is very close to my heart and in my opinion deserves a constructive and intelectual discussions in cyber world and real world.
There were 30 points against allowing students to be actively involved with off-campus politics being brought forward to cabinet meeting and all those 30 points were given a clear and strong rebuttals by the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah. In front of the Prime Minister Najib, he presented the reasons and explained the necessities of letting the students to decide for themselves. In short, he’s telling each and every cabinet members to butt off from our students life and not to treat them as a low-life who can’t decide on themselves, let alone calling them immature!
It is to my amusement and satisfaction when the former VC of a public university whose name I shouldn’t mention here was given the bitter taste of straightforward talking and no nonsense response from, who else if not Dato’ Saifuddin in a recent television interview regarding the same issue. “I’m thankful to God that you were not given an extension as the VC”, to quote Dato’ Saifuddin in his reply to the rather immature comment from the thick-moustached VC. The whole Malaysia jumped with joy and jubilation (Okay, I exaggerate this a bit). But, nevertheless, what a ‘polite’ way of shoving a hard truth in the mouth of the old-fashioned VC.
Students like to experiment things, they are at a stage in life where Evil Knivel is their role model, and ‘dare to fail’ is their life dogma. Or it is probably more appropriate to say ‘failure’ is non-existent in students’ dictionary, since a failure is a teacher in life. It teaches students to improve and to avoid doing same mistakes as they go on with their life. There is no way a self-proclaimed well learned adult to prevent a student from experiencing failures and from avoiding them to take failures as one of their great teachers in life. That’s how they gain the utmost valuable experiences that, in time, earns them the sacred ‘matured’ title. There’s no way for sure to tell a 50 years old adult is more matured than a 20 years old matriculation student just by judging at the numbers in their age. Needless to say, by labelling students in general as immature, that doesn’t make you a ‘matured’ adult too!
To make full use of a normally short student life, one has to be above average, to be active and proactive, to be brave and ethusiastic, to be smart and sharp. To achieve all of these in one go, is by participating in student activisms. Student activisms include on/off campus politics, co-curricular, education, research, charity and etc. Pick any one activity that you like and indulge yourself in it. Be the leader or active member and organize events, projects or anything that is related. You will face obstacles, setbacks, debates, disagreements, grunts, unhappy teammates etc in the process. However, you will surely be rewarded with the intangible, often unnoticed life changing experiences. That’s how you earn yourself the title ‘matured’, and certainly that doesn’t involve a lecture from your VC. You probably don’t even have to know his/her name at all.
So, it is important that in a life of a student, a rope is given to direct, but not to tie their hands. It is prudent to show them the light, so they won’t stumble, but not to blind them. It is up to the so called mature adults to let them walk, run and fall, just for them to stand again stronger and wiser. What students need is the trust and confidence from the people who were once a student too, who were and still have a teacher called ‘failure’.
Not to discredit any of the members of cabinet, but this country need more leaders like Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah. Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat leaders must not take students for granted. And Malaysia is a country that is well known for it’s huge investments in students. No country other than Malaysia which spend billions of ringgits on students scholarships, that, I can be sure of. You’ve already put your money on them, now let’s have faith in them.
It’s time this country’s future being handed to the hands and minds that will drive the future.