SiLeNt VoIcEs


Written on 7/22/2004 12:18:00 am by sikapitan

Last week I met one of my oldest friends whose back here in Malaysia for his summer holidays. He’s absolutely brilliant. Currently studying law in UK, he’s also the Malaysian Law Society president (or something big like that- I might be wrong) and is a prominent representative of Malaysians in their student parliament. I hereby predict that Wan Mohd Firdaus will one day become a “somebody”- though I hope it’s not for killing anyone.
What was interesting was the conversation we had while having dinner. Looking at me, he asked how Law School in ITM is. Unlike some people, I just gave my frank opinion – it’s all about chicks, football, gossips and a smattering of studying. In other words, it’s 5 years of cruising down the highway to a degree. Really, even if you take somebody serious and asked them what significant thing they have done for today, you’ll be hard pressed to find a good answer. Yeah, it’s a bit of a torture nearing finals but when I look at most of the course mates they’re pretty much relaxed most of the time. We don’t engage in discussions, we don’t voice our opinions. While my friend’s busy asking for more rooms for Malaysians in hostel, I’m here watching Samarinda on TV3. But hey, if the world’s made up of straight jack, then we will all be bored to death.
What have our elected representative done for us today?
Do you know who our Law Society president is? Don’t ask me, I’ve never even been involved in ANY one of the many student council elections that has come and go every year. My friend mentioned the fact that compared to U.K, the student councils here are pretty much insignificant and I can’t help but nod along. It’s true. Our councils are bound by regulations and ethics that in effect prohibit questioning the authority. Thus, as years go by, the students generally regard such councils as merely faculty deckhands that are only good to organize parties and such. While this might seem unfair to those elected (and we have to doubt the validity or importance of such election when the turnout rate have never reached beyond 50%) I cannot find any reason to change my belief. The more pertinent issues like parking space and lack of classrooms should be fought for by our student council. Even misconduct or inappropriate behavior of lecturers should be brought forward by our elected rep. Instead, there’s a feeling of resigned bitterness over how sadly the institution chose to neglect student’s sentiment. It is only power when you not only have the capability but also the will to exercise it.
Now some might reflect on this and say, “So what the heck are YOU doing?”. Well, I’m not really council material. Skipped classes, late assignments, improper attire – hallmarks of the truly undergrounduate. Then they’ll say, “Jangan cakap banyak la cam tuh”. If that’s the attitude then sadly I can’t see the point of even having a council. Do you see 50 000 people on the pitch kicking the ball for Man Utd? Do you see 1 000 people at a concert singing on stage? My point is that once you choose to be in a position of power or prominence, then you’re subject to criticism like mine. Not everyone should be student leader, but does that mean that the current student leader is better than the rest? I can see some very talented individuals, whom I believe would be able to lead us further, disinterested in campus elections because of bureaucratic red-tape and lack of purpose of the current student body.
And you can interpret this article and expand it to include any elected representatives, I don’t mind. Just don’t say I’m criticizing the government. I prefer to sleep on a comfortable bed, thank you. Au revoir.

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