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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ibrahim Ali's award: Keep Umno's 'ampu-bodek' politics out of UiTM

Sulaiman Kamal | 7:31 PM | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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This is the man whose datukship was stripped off by the Sultan of Kelantan, his own sultan from his own state. Ironically, a malay is judged by his loyalty to his Sultan. This is also the man who leapfrogged from PAS to Berjasa that was aligned to UMNO, and then later jumped ship from Semangat 46 to UMNO, showing utmost contempt to the people who had voted for him.
This is the man whom the Yang Dipertuan Agong himself refused to grant an audience, ironically His Majesty had granted an audience to Ambiga. This is the man who could not carry on an intellectual conversation and resorted to “Don’t talk shit! Don’t talk shit!” and made his followers proud on Al Jazeera.

This is also the man who , after kicking up a storm about being antagonistic against Bersih 2.0., was nowhere to be seen on the actual day of the Bersih demonstration in KL, unlike the much maligned KJ, who at least took to the streets together with his UMNO youth members.
This is the man, whose intellect had been “lauded” by the late Rustam A Sani as “the intellectualism of Ibrahim Ali”. Yet, this is the very same person whose offer to UiTM in endowing a fund for a leadership award for the students has been warmly accepted by UiTM.
What hanky-panky is this?
With such a colourful background, it certainly boggles the mind as to how an institution of higher learning, an institution that produces diploma, undergraduate, master’s and PhD holders, could align itself with Ibrahim Ali, and agrees to present this special award during its convocation ceremony. What was the VC thinking?
Furthermore, the current VC, Datuk Prof Ir Dr Sahol Hamid, had been very firm against any public demonstrations, particularly the Bersih 2.0 one. He had even sent out a warning letter to students and lecturers in UiTM , warning them of possible adverse consequences if they were found to have joined the Bersih 2.0 demonstration (but his warning was only regarding the Bersih demonstration. His silence on the planned demonstrations by Perkasa and UMNO Youth was deafening).
Now, since Ibrahim Ali is known for his fondness in public demonstrations, shouldn’t UiTM avoid him like the plague? Instead, the VC’s reply concerning the propriety of the Ibrahim Ali award is strangely demure: “org nak bagi sumbangan kita terima. Dia sebagai alumni beri sumbangan”.
Maybe the VC is blameless. Maybe his hands are tied. Maybe he is just trying to play safe in the jockeying for power among the politicians and their cronies that had inadvertently penetrated UiTM. Obviously no reasonable human being would believe that UiTM is immune from UMNO politics.
UMNO's ampu-bodek politics pervades UiTM
Politicking has turned into a great art in UiTM, so much so that one should not be surprised at the things that they have done or about to do. For example, since the naming of buildings after public personalities is Politics 101, one should not be surprised if some people in UiTM try to ampu/bodek the Yang Dipertuan Agong by naming the UiTM’s mosque after the YDPA.
Of course, this might be an act of lese majesty since UiTM Shah Alam is in Selangor, and therefore under the jurisdiction of the Selangor Sultan. But politics is about making the impossible possible. After revamping the Menara Tun Abdul Razak in UiTM Shah Alam into Menara Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, our faith in the politicians in UiTM must be strong.
We should probably look at the organization within UiTM that had collaborated in this venture, the Institut Pemikiran dan Kepimpinan Melayu (IMPAK) of UiTM. A quick look at its programmes would reveal that it is certainly no different than Perkasa. Ibrahim Ali had in fact been invited by IMPAK to give a talk in UiTM months ago.
It would not be such a big surprise after all when we discover that among the names of the fellows of IMPAK is a certain Datuk Prof Madya Halim Sidek, an UMNO man. Interestingly enough, while his email name is “Datuk Prof Madya Dr Abdul Halim Sidek”, his designation at the IMPAK website does not contain his PhD title. Surely this Datuk is not the only UMNO lecturer in UiTM. A further check at the list of lecturers in UiTM would tantalizingly reveal a few well-known names of UMNO bahagian and cawangan leaders.
Then the veil slipped and it is form over substance
People certainly had great expectations for the new VC when he took over from the more-UMNO-than-the-UMNO Ibrahim Abu Shah since it is rumoured that he himself was victimized by the old VC. The first thing that he did was to replace some of Ibrahim Abu Shah’s appointees at key positions in UiTM. Of course, it created a storm among the Ibrahim Abu Shah’s gang, and several UMNO bloggers aligned to Ibrahim Abu Shah had even condemned him , and even questioned his credentials as a “Malay leader”.
Then, the veil had slipped. He began to show his true colours. For instance, during an academic conference in UiTM in February 2011, there was a forum entitled “Rejuvenation of academic culture in UiTM”, and instead of inviting the heavyweights like Prof Khoo Kay Kim, Prof Dr Syed Naquib Al-Attas or the Royal Prof Ungku Aziz, the VC invited the editors of Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia to join him as panelists to educate the lecturers of UiTM on academic culture. It was even weirder that the VC had appointed Fahrin Ahmad, the Malay actor, to be the moderator of that forum.
This uneasy feeling that the VC is going for image rather than substance was made clearer subsequently when he proudly announced on his facebook page regarding the several breakthroughs that he had achieved on behalf of Uitm in clinching some Memorandum of Understanding with Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and MIT.
After the euphoria was over, then people realized that the MoUs made with those universities did not mean that UiTM students and lecturers would be given special preference for entry into those great universities. With or without the MoUs, they would still be treated equally like any other prospective candidates. The MoUs also did not ensure that UiTM lecturers could easily obtain collaboration with these great universities. Then, what was the point of lauding the MoUs, that such MoUs would be a catalyst in “meletakkan melayu di peta dunia” ?
The most glaring example is the VC’s addiction to social media like Facebook and Twitter. While the old VC did not actively use Facebook, he was known to endear himself to and with the students. Terms of endearment like “ayahanda, papa and ayah” were liberally used by him to make himself popular among the students. Slogans like “mesra pelajar” and “UiTM di hatiku” were coined during his time and were aggressively disseminated among the UiTM community.
As for the current VC, a quick look at his facebook page reveals the liberal uses of such terms and the empty-headed and fawning messages by his student fans is certainly frightening. More than that, seen as an attempt to show that he is better than Ibrahim Abu Shah, the current VC has coined a slogan “UiTM SENTIASA di hati ku”, and he uses this slogan consistently in his facebook and twitter postings.
Anyhow, after the old VC’s contract was unceremoniously terminated, one could probably sympathise with the present VC and therefore understand his fear that he would meet the fate similar to his predecessor’s. Since the present VC’s contract is for 2 years starting from 1st Jan 2010, that fear is not too remote.
Fact is, UiTM is a goldmine for contracts
Talk among the UiTM alumni revealed that they are unhappy with the highly politicized state of UiTM, in which many children of rich politicians have easily enrolled in UiTM , together with the fact that many people have used their UMNO connections to obtain employment within UiTM. They are now desperate for another “Arshad Ayub” to take the helm , and prioritise UiTM according to its important academic requirements as opposed to UiTM being used as a political tool by some UMNO politicians.
Tan Sri Datuk Dr Arshad Ayub was known as a no-nonsense director when he was the director of ITM and he was also known to be a bona fide malay educational leader without having any political nor ulterior motives, unlike a string of the people who have been heading UiTM. A further uneasiness among the alumni is about the perception that UiTM is a gold mine for politicians.
Since it is the biggest university in Malaysia, having a branch in each state, government contracts and tenders through uitm would be lucrative and there is an alarming concern based on a rumour that some politicians are monopolizing the awarding of UiTM contracts and tenders to their crony companies and that this is made possible by having their lackeys in controlling UiTM.
This is of course merely a baseless rumour since the contracts and tender documents in UiTM are classified under the Official Secrets’ Act and there is certainly no way for anyone to find out the recipients of the contracts and tenders at UiTM, including the tender for the massive renovation works for the UiTM Shah Alam mosque.
But seriously, could we blame the esteemed Datuk Prof Ir Dr Sahol Hamid for this latest debacle? We should take pity on him. He is after all personally handpicked by Dato’ Seri Saifuddin Abdullah’s best friend, the Minister for Higher Education, who is surely only interested in the educational development of Malaysia rather than wallowing in the UMNO politics of patronage. This is the best ever VC in the history of UiTM.
Maybe things do not appear to be rosy right now. But things are not what they seem to be. Pity this VC please. Such an honest character he is, burdened with a mission to “meletak anak bumiputra di peta dunia”. We must put our faith in him. Besides, how many VCs would take the trouble to ply their staff with words of wisdom every now and then? Only this VC. One of his wonderfully soothing emails is probably the best panacea to the current madness:
“When I was a kid, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage, and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all my dad did was reach for his Biscuit, smile at my mom and ask me how my day was at school.
I don't remember what I told him that night, but I do remember hearing my mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits. And I'll never forget what he said: "Honey, I love burned biscuits."
Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, "Your momma put in a long hard day at work today and she's real tired. And besides... a burnt biscuit never hurt anyone!"
You know, life is full of imperfect things... and imperfect people.. I'm not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everyone else. What I've learned over the years is that learning to accept each others faults and choosing to celebrate each others differences, is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.
Life is too short to wake up with regrets... Love the people who treat you right and forget about the ones who don't.

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