The speakers included Education Minister Datuk Seri Najib
Tun Razak and the respective
mentris besar and chief ministers.
The decision seems obvious. Umno leaders
realise the importance of keeping in touch with tertiary students and the
personal touch always makes the difference.
Since the sacking of Datuk Seri Anwar
Ibrahim from the Cabinet and Umno last
year, our university students have been
involved in demonstrations against the
The anti-Government sentiment is strong
in the campus with the Malay students
being the most critical.
Copying the reformasi movements in Indonesia, our students see themselves as forces of change.
The impact of this anger is serious. Unless Umno wins over these angry students soon, it will have serious repercussions in the elections of the
next millennium, even if they won't
affect the coming elections.
The critics would probably regard the Government briefings as a form of brain-washing by politicians.
Some have questioned why two way forums have not been organised by the
ministers to hear the grievances of the
There are merits and demerits in such
briefings. From the decision, it is
clear that the Government leaders want
to have the first go in having their
side of the story heard.
They believe many emotional issues are being bandied about and the students have not got the right picture.
Our students, they believed, are being
used in an uprising against the
Those of us who have gone through
orientation programmes in our local universities
know what these programmes are
Except for the Student Affairs
Department officials, the freshies
are left to student leaders involved
in the orientation once they are in
Most of our student leaders, particularly from the east coast, are strongly influenced by PAS. They are the ones who are likely to dominate
During orientation week, the freshies are forced to wake up before dawn to attend lectures including those with religious inclination.
Sometimes, the religious sensitivities of other races, are ignored by lecturers who get carried away with their own beliefs and prejudices.
When the seniors return to campus, after the semester break, to join the freshies, it is even worse. That is when we read about ragging involving
the seniors and freshies.
Whether we like to admit it or not,
university students are, by nature, anti-establishment.
Being young and idealistic, opposition figures are more popular than government leaders.
During political forums, where both
government and opposition figures
debate, the former are often booed.
Students see themselves as the nation's
future leaders. They want their views to
be taken seriously, and rightly
Healthy involvement of students in
current affairs enables our students to think.
It helps to nurture a sense of
commitment and the growth of a
The universities must not be seen as a
mere degree churning factory but as an
institution to ponder serious issues affecting society.
There is this general feeling that the
involvement of Cabinet ministers and mentris besar at such seminar is akin to a sledgehammer treatment to what is happening in campuses.
It is an over-kill. I am sure they have
more urgent matters to attend to. The job should be left to speakers from the various think tanks and
prominent figures from the various
sectors, such as business and media.
Such speakers, who are not directly involved in politics, would have more credibility.
It would also be more appropriate for the seminar to be part of the week-long orientation programme.
Now that the cabinet ministers have
given their views, there is nothing to
stop our students from insisting that
they invite the opposition politicians.
But the students must never forget that nobody owes them a living.
Taxpayers have the right to demand that these students work for their degree. The money for their scholarships does not drop from the skies.
We have read about top STPM scorers who
cannot get into medical schools because of the quota system.
There are many of such less fortunate students in local private colleges, TAR and ITM who would love to take the places of these student
hotheads in our local universities.
Their priority is to study hard and get
their degree. There is nothing to stop
them from becoming full-time politicians or full time loafers once they leave
Our students must not allow themselves
to be used by politicians, opposition or otherwise.
They are of no use to society or their
political idols if they fail in their
Taxpayers want to see our campus community produce great inventions, quality
researches, award-winning publications
and people with greater proficiency in English, instead of seeing students spending too much time in demonstrations,
ceramahs and issuing press
I think it is not wrong to say that
Malaysians have had enough of
politicians and politicking. We certainly do not need students who
act like politicians.