The tragedy that is SMM

This is going to be a long winded one. I couldn’t help it. I need it out, so unless you can’t stand long posts on serious mundane stuffs, just bear with me.

SMM – these days infamous abbreviation for Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia. The name spills with grandeur – but in reality its wreaks with Stupidity of the Mahasiswa Malaysia.

1. I watched the video of the recent demo that took place on New Year’s eve. Firtsly, it all looks uncannily predictable. So very predictable you can tell what will happen next before you even finish watching it. Nothing new with the modus operandi. The same old, same old – so called peaceful demonstration drama. I bet everyone kind of expected the claim of police violence to follow suit soon after. We were waiting for it. We’d be surprised and wondering why if it doesn’t. And just like clock work, it did.

2. The first most tragic thing about SMM is this: The majority of the protestors were Malays. I didnt see that many Indians or Chinese in the riled up crowd. Its generally the exam week all over Malaysian campus. Have the Malay students studied enough and are fully prepared to ace the exams, or are they planning to just get by with cukup makan grades, or they are extending their years at the Uni to dedicate their focus on politics and the coming PRU13 this year? One can only guess. Considering the possibilities though, isnt AUKU then a sound Act to implement? Because a student’s responsibility first and foremost is to study and to make that a priority. It is admirable no doubt, the energy and passion these younglings possess to champion a cause. How sadly it is that they’re misplaced.  So near examination week, and these supposedly scholarly bunch of kiddos instead of organizing study groups, organize riots instead. And a poorly thought one at that.

3. Why a riot you ask? First of all, if you are rallying to get a message across to the UPSI’s administration, you don’t do it at a time when the admin is closed, in the middle of the night, and on the eve of a Public holiday weekend at that. Because the only chance is, no one will be there to entertain your demands, hear your case or receive your memorandum. Its not rocket Science. A kindy going child can tell you that. Now that is IF your aim is to do all of that – and if it is, the fact that you havent thought of the simple fact like the best time to do it is just plain stupidity. And then to get angry and irritated that the gates are closed is just factoring your stupidity twice.

4. However if sending a demand or presenting a case is not the aim – but to create a chaos is, it seems logical and understandble that the time chosen to hold such a rally is so inappropriate and very poorly picked and orchestrated. So as I see it, its either totally bad planning evidential of stupidity or purposeful planning aimed for chaos. Like I said, NO ROCKET SCIENCE.

5. And then in the middle of the rally, someone’s speech was calling for the downing of UMNO/BN. Wait a minute! Isn’t this rally about academic freedom and the abolishment/amendment of AUKU? But why am I not surprised. Well, this is just another predictability. Say what you may, the demostration was never about AUKU. Its political. With or without AUKU, you’re already politicking – you really dont need the Act to stop you really. You’re already championing an opportunist’s approach to creating political driven chaos. AUKU is just a front, much like the fair elections is for BERSIH – an excuse to create another chaos. In fact if it hadn’t been for the PM himself announcing plans to amend AUKU, the issue would never have been put into light in the first place – and the job of opportunists is to spin the issue to their advantage. And spin it they did. 

6. Here’s another baffling thing about their cause. I have read the all of the 6 detailed demands of the BEBAS movement – which after much consideration seem like non-issues to me and its relevance is very much debatable. They’re 

Abolishment of Akta 174 and 555

Freedom of Academics

Freedom of speech for student

Freedom of organizing campus level elections

Freedom of administrating clubs and activities

Freedom of taking parts in politics

Full detailed explanations can be found here:

7) In general, all the demands are pretty much interconnected with each other that most of the concepts seem repetetive and redundant. And if you’re honest, you will realized it is glaringly politically-driven too.

8) To be honest, I’m still struggling to grasp the whole concept of academic freedom that is being touted. No one has been forbidden to obtain knowledge in this country. No one has been threatened at gun-point to not obtain a certain kind of knowledge. Academicians (and students too) these days are already vocal with their populous opinions even with AUKU. The Act certainly did not stop them, and last checked they’re still happily lecturing and not jailed. I’ve had lecturers (goverment servants in essence who so obviously against the government) discussing controversial and critical issues in a mood full of rancour, taking up lecturing time for things unrelated to the lectures. Did I think it was right? I thought it was irresponsible! In Islamic concept, its hardly ‘amanah’. But guess what, in all of the so-called abscence of freedom of academics and freedom of speech they doggedly condemn the Act for, they’re still there, lecturing in freedom of academics and speech, under AUKU. Did AUKU stop them..? Hmm…

9) I have been a University-going student once. I am not going to pretend they’re an innocent bunch of people who don’t know any better. I needed guidance no doubt, but at that age, I was fully aware of my actions and the consequences. It was an age bordering on the threshold of full-fledge adulthood. The age of eagerness to grow, of feeling matured and responsible. However that eagerness do sometimes cause patrons of that generation to be easily wooed by quarters promising them temptingly challenging responsibilities into the next phase. It makes them feel important and primed beyond their age. The woes of young blood, swiftly riled up, quickly influenced, easily excited and swayed and emotionally driven. Impatient bunch really.

10) Act 174 and Act 555 are really sound rules to be implemented. You cannot be in the position of power, or be in campus grounds to exert biased influence should you be charged of university’s disciplinary actions or undergoing trial for one. Whether or not you’re guilty of the charge, its morally acceptable to relinquish positions that may be in contrast to your moral standing. Plus, you are obliged to abide by the University’s rules. You cant break rules as you please and expect to get away with it. A person who storms into a house, and rudely and indecently create chaos, cannot expect the owner of the house to welcome him with open arms and not throw him out. In fact its justice that he gets thrown out for such impolite display of rougishness. This is not against the rights of carrying out activities – this is acceptable standards of basic administrations. Nor is there a necessity to directly/openly associate your party with that of any NGOs/political parties from outside and henceforth receive fundings from related parties for campaigning.  Receiving monetary aids and campaign materials not only taints the unbiased nature of campus-level campaign elections, it also act as conflict of interests to the championing of the students’ causes because you will ultimately more or less, champion that of the funders’ as well.

11) Now, the other demands: The freedom to organize campus level elections and administer clubs and activities. What’s there to complain, really? With or without AUKU, you’re already practicing that freedom. Let’s not pretend as if political dogma has never tainted and heavily influenced the campaign directions of campus-level elections. It has always been a driving force behind the campaigning. Back in Uni, elections were driven by political allegiance of pro or anti government movements. Though the causes ultimately were aimed at championing the students’ causes, there was never a doubt that the association to local political interests and preference existed. Even in places far away from the center of the strongest influence like UNIMAS in Sarawak, (which was where I was), the influence was evident and strong. Campus-level elections are aimed at preparing you to the practice of real life politicking, something that will take you very shortly to enter. And it is meant for you to champion the students’ causes, not any other quarters’ outside of campus. A campus-level election should be kept strictly campus-level related, without external influence that could possibly compromise the efficacy of carrying out responsibilities for the students’ causes. You are ultimately carrying out duties on behalf of the students, not external parties. There’s no need for associations to parties to which you’re not representative to and compensate your efficacy over other non-campus obligations. Keeping abreast of local politics is a must, intricately involved in it when your priorities are anything else but is just careless and irresponsible. Fight for the students’ causes in campus level, better library, better cafeteria etc. That is conceptually politics as well, and doesnt hamper studies at the same time.

12) The freedom of politicking is heavily debatable. Let’s simplify it then. Picture yourself a parent, with a University-going children. Would you rather they dedidate all their focus excelling in their studies or would you be fine that they spend half their time doing politics which are not very-much related to their studies and compromising their focus on their studies and to an extent their future? At the end of the day, a student’s priority is to study. A politician, do politics. It doesn’t take long to get from a full time student to a full time politician. Would it kill to be patient and complete a degree first, because ultimately college suspension hurts no one but yourself? AUKU is not designed to suppress and victimize students. It is a blanket policy meant to safeguard students from swerving from their objective and keep their priorities intact.

13) I’ve had not one but plenty of comments about why students should be allowed to do politics. Like I said its heavily debatable. But most of these people for BEBAS, puts forth the rationalization that politicking while studying is okay because we humans can multitask. That is essentially the strongest logic they argue with. Well news’ flash people, when it comes to gicing attention, our brain is by nature, sequential. Multitasking on attention-requiring tasks however is a myth. John medina a neuroscientist confirmed in studies, when it comes to splitting your attention and getting interrupted”it takes 50 percent longer to accomplish a task. Not only that, he or she makes up to 50 percent more errors”. Students who are super active in sports commonly attend sports schools where their academics is tailored into their activity and the sports itself is embedded as part of the syllabus they study for, not outside extra activities. while there may be one in a thousand students who excel in everything he does, in and outside campus, most students who attend regular schools and are simultaneously over-active in sports, even if they dont fail tend to have a compromised or sub-optimal grades. Some may swear by God they’re sure they can defy nature and multitask. Maybe they’re right, they may be one of the gifted people God created, that only God knows, but nature dictates, when it comes to information rich activities and attention requiring practices, multitasking is a myth.  If you still think it is possible, (yes they do, they swear there are super smart people who can multitask) so then how many percentage of Uni-going students, are super smart and knows how to efficiently ‘multitask’? For those who are that super smart minority, I’m sure they can get over the roadblock that AUKU is and find ways to do it without abolishing the protective act for the supposedly not so super smart majority who prefers not to multitask studies with politics. The recent riots show, they already have (though whether or not they too belong to the super smart group is not known). AUKU did not stop them from politicking anyway and they’re still free to roam, in all the freedom there is in academics. The AUKU riot in the end is just a front for interested parties to create chaos at the expense of these young students’ future. No one loses more than those students. In fact, if it hadnt been the PM himself announcing plans to amend the AUKU, the SMM probably wouldn’t even have thought of the cause to begin with.

14) I wonder if they realized how this whole thing made them look pathetic and perversely unthinking. I guess if they allowed a little bit more of intelligence into the planning, a little bit more of debate into the demanding, a little bit of research into the rationalizing and a little bit of compensation for the rioting, they wouldn’t look so grossly idiotic. Its apalling to know that these are kids having the opportunities attending Universities and not making full use of the advantage – when there are those who do not have the same privilege though just as deserving of a place. Not just any Universities too, but local public universities. And to think some of those involved are students studying to become future academicians, I shudder at the thought of such people becoming my child’s teachers in the future. I pray to God my child/children be spared from getting exposed to the negative attitudes of future academicians.

15) That’s why I couldnt see the point to the struggles. Because as a student once too – I think completing your degree first is more relevant than to actively participate in something non-study related outside of campus. Courses these days are compacted so you can graduate earlier too – so unless you’ve been an irresponsible student, who has time for sidelines that can affect your grades? I have seen people whose studies performance drop because they’re too busy getting involved in club activities, or even a love relationship. Sure you dont have to be a Uni grad to be successful in life, this is another argument some people throw about – in a bid to excuse divided studies attention and sorry grades; but isnt that besides the point. If that is your argument, why attend Uni in the first place. Join politics straight after school. Then at least you’re not being an irresponsible student. Being in a Uni that is tied to AUKU, no matter how unhappy you are with the so-called (overly exaggerated) claims of unfairness you say you’re plagued with that is emotionally hurting you, you are obliged to abide by rules of the Uni. AUKU is not meant to victimize you, it is meant to put order in an orderly institution. Imagine a Uni without rules, where chaos and riots run amok uncontrolled and unabided by regulations, how much studying is there in such an environment.  Otherwise leave college, then there’s no AUKU to stop you. Its not too long to complete a degree – Study well, or not at all. If  you’re that impatient to do politics, its all the more reason for you to study hard and complete it as soon as you can, rather than compromise your attention and risk college suspension that extends your studying time longer rather than shorten it. This is a little bit of logical thinking if you havent thought of it yet. Dont rob the opportunities of other equally-deserving people to be in college if you cant be responsible for your privilege. Plenty of private colleges around not tied by AUKU if it so concerns you. Millions of people have succeeded in graduating in the presence of AUKU and went on to politics later, a successful degree holder. Dont let interested parties influence you into damaging your future, they dont have a degree to obtain, you do.


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