Monday, August 20, 2007

Are You Wearing a Mortarboard or A Mortar Board?


The level of education we have achieved is not judged by the mortarboard we wear on our head. For all we know, it could turn out to be one made of mortar that burdens or weighs us down instead of enlightens us.

If we take criticism as if they're out to take us down for all we're worth, then we will go the way we take it for. But if we take criticism as a warning message that whatever we're doing really needs improvement then we should thank whoever criticizes us for wanting to see us improve ourselves and start taking positive action from there. Definitely "truth is hard to accept".

This blog entry and the accompanying comments from readers, bares it all for us to judge how far we have progressed as a nation of 50 years. Don't be alarmed by some of the abusive stances, personal attacks and racial slurs used, but try to understand the frame of mind of various levels of our society and judge for yourself where we really stand, not in the eyes of the world, but our very own eyes.

If we want to be world class then we should be arguing with maturity like these two persons (below) for example.


Note: MORTAR (mixture)  noun [U]
a mixture of sand, water and cement or lime that is used to fix bricks or stones to each other when building walls

Anonymous said...

To ANON of Fri Nov 24, 10:44:38 PM
You said: "alangkah sayangnya apabila bangsaku dihina & deperlekehkan oleh bangsanya sendiri ..."

I have been reading some posts by Malay ANONs - I don't think they "perlekehkan" bangsa sendiri. In fact, to their credits (like Khairul Idzwan Kamarudzaman), they took many unfair, insulting and demeaning comments thrown at them bravely. Instead of letting anger rule them and biting back, they chose to be introspective and look within themselves, and come out with ways on how to improve their own race. To Khairul and a few other Malay ANONs who have been doing their best to respond rationally, hats off to you.

I would like to share my experience with Malays. I am a "banana" Chinese, who spent the whole of my secondary and primary schooldays in a "Sekolah Kebangsaan". I only have Malay and Indian friends in school, simply because I couldn’t speak Mandarin or my own dialect well (my shortcoming actually, for not picking up my own mother tongue). I ended up being proficient in both oral and spoken Bahasa Malaysia and English.

Throughout my 10 years of working experience, I come into contact with Malaysians of all races. I have come across Chinese who, the moment they find I can’t speak Mandarin or other dialect well, choose to pay less attention to me. Some even change their facial reaction when I try to communicate with them in English or basic Mandarin. For the Malays, their initial coolness would usually melt away the moment they find I can converse well in their language.

After my degree, I work in 3 private Chinese-owned professional firms, and currently, I am employed in a private "Chinese" IPTS. From my contact and working experience with Chinese and Malays, I would like to give a little of my input:

i. All Malaysians, whether Malays, Chinese or other races, are diligent. Some Malays appear "slower" to respond if instructions are given to them in English, but once they understand what they need to do and what they are expected to achieve, they put their shoulders to the wheels just like any other person would.

ii. The same thing can be said for students
Malays, Chinese and other races. Some Malay students again appear "slower" in learning or having "poor initiative", but if you were to counsel them properly on why and how they can improve themselves, the transformation is fantastic. In fact, ANY student Malays, Chinese or Indians can change, with proper counselling and encouragement.

iii. Many Malays, whether they are from the cities or "kampungs", do not really want to rely too much on their "special rights or privileges". If they have a choice, they would rather sweat it out too. I have come across many Malay friends and co-workers who say how they admire other races who can manage on their own, and that they (the Malays) also harbour high ambitions that they would stand on their own two feet one day. We can try talk to the Malay students in "Chinese" IPTS
some actually reject offers from UM and UiTM not because they think the "Chinese" IPTS is superior or UM/UiTM are inferior, but because these Malay students want to:

1) learn from the different races and their cultures
2) they want to go through the challenges of studying in an unfamiliar and strange environment
3) they want to prove to themselves that ultimately, the degrees that they earn are due to their own hard work and not their race.
4) they believe that they must learn to mix with other races before they join the workforce.

iv. Many Malays are very friendly, hospitable and trusting. They are one of those rare races in the world who would not hesitate to invite a stranger to their homes and think it is a great honour to have visitors visiting them.

I think we should perhaps draw a line now and cease all these racially-inclined arguments. The whole topic of UiTM is not only about Malays, but Malaysia. If other races can give constructive feedbacks, the Malays can say "banyak-banyak terima kasih" and act on these. But that is not a licence for other races to start giving demeaning and insulting comments and innuendoes. Human nature is such that the moment someone starts saying things in a negative or hurtful manner, we tend to be defensive, emotional and we listen no further. This is regardless of whether we are a Malay or Chinese. As stated by someone, "it is not what you say, but how you say it". Malays, like Chinese, do stand to reason.

To ANON of Fri Nov 24, 11:20:08 PM: Sorry to hear about your bitter corporate experience. But you may want to take a step back and reflect that cronyism and nepotism are colour-blind and skin-blind. These are a part of our sad Malaysian culture, be it in Malay or Chinese or Indian companies. In the Government services and GLCs, other minorities tend to level also the same accusation that promotions and advancement are based on "kulit-fication".

It’s all very basic
if you are controlling a money-making company and if you (the top guy) happen to be short-sighted in your visions and you do not treasure meritocracy, you too would want to adopt the same practice of promoting your "own people", only to have the "own people" slapping you in your face with half-past-six performances.

To me, by your first MNC workplace overlooking your talents and abilities, they were the biggest loser, not you. As you yourself proved it, you found another place which saw your talent and soon put it to good use.

Now that you have earned your rightful place in the top management level, perhaps you would want to learn from your past bitter experience and not act against a particular race, out of your sense of "revenge". That is to say, if other people want to be myopic, discriminatory or adopt poor human resource practices, you can choose not to follow. After all, as a victim of discrimination yourself, you would know better, that cronyism and nepotism would not get an organisation anywhere, and that talent management and appreciation are what should be emphasised in a vibrant organisation. I.e. appreciate talents, regardless of the race and colour of the person.

When I first started out in the work-force, one Chinese middle-level manager friend advised me that if I had a choice of working for either a Malay or Chinese boss, I should pick a Malay boss. Why, because Malay bosses generally are more appreciative of talents and competencies. In his words, "A Malay boss prefers to leave you alone and let you do your job without much interference or control, as long as no trouble arises. If you are efficient, competent and can stand in for him any time, he would reward you handsomely and take care of you for the rest of your tenure in that place". I find this comparison to be generally true throughout my working experience.

LASTLY, regarding the original topic of UiTM being world class university, I fully agree with "Peace out, Keranamu Malaysia" (ANON Tue Sep 19, 03:31:32PM). Let us keep to Tony’s original topic for discussion.

I think some of the common grounds we can start off with are:

i. UiTM is still not yet world-class.
ii. All Malaysian Universities are still not yet world-class.
iii. Some day, we will all get there, if we believe we can.
iv. We will get there if all of us can sit down together and discuss on strategies to take our Universities there.
v. If our not having world-class universities is a big problem, let us talk about solutions, not just repeating, re-emphasising or re-highlighting known problems and obstacles.
vi. Good ideas and solutions would flow naturally if discussions are open, frank but tactful, rational, with logics, based on facts, not personal and not emotional.
vii. Give ideas, suggestions and feedbacks by all means, but try not to impose on others, i.e. not take the stand, "I have told you, if you want to solve this problem, you must do this. If not, your problems will never be solved."
viii. It’s really up to the recipients whether they want to grasp, follow or appreciate the advices and feedbacks given. Do not hang/crucify them or give insulting, demeaning comments if they don’t agree with you.

khairul idzwan kamarudzaman said...

To ANON Sat Nov 25, 05:27:45 PM ,

I TOTALLY AGREE with your comments. Sometimes, it is not that we want to lower down our own races, but sometimes we have to say something that is truth in order to get things better. There is a Malay idiom which says that "Kebenaran itu memang pahit untuk ditelan".

Yes, it is hard for us to accept the truth, but the truth is the truth. UiTM is still not a world class university, as well as other Malaysian universities. We use a system which is not systematic. Our education system is too exam oriented, and until this system remains unchanged, non of our universities will gain a world class status. Malaysian students will be like a robot, non progressive and just follow the order without really knowing what they are suppose to do.

To ex-uitm, I don't think that all 'you people' are that prejudice. let me tell all of you something. when I was in kindergarten, I was sent to a Chinese oriented kindergarten which is Eden Child Development Centre. I learned Chinese, I learned other cultures, and we, malays, chinese and indians in the kindergarten (although ofcourse Malays are the minorities) ate together and played together.

When I was in primary school, i mixed with other races, and i learned my english in primary school. this is due to the fact that most of my friends are non-malays and we speak in english.

however, when i entered secondary school, which is a boarding school (Sekolah Berasrama Penuh), all the students are Malay Muslims. It is not that I want to say bad thing about my own race. For God's sake, NO! But honestly, when I learned in a monoethnic surrounding, I've found some 'horror' things:

1) Malaysians who live in their own race enclave tend to be VERY PREJUDICE to other races
2) They do not know about other races
3) They do not like other races

That's why i missed my primary schooldays where there is NO RACES BOUNDARY! We live together with harmony. And not to forget, when I entered six-former for 4 month, i was in a relationship with a chinese girl... So, to ANONS who sent comments such as 'seperti perhimpunan agong umno', 'you people' whatsoever, STOP FROM BEING PREJUDICE TO OTHER RACES! To have a strong Malaysia, we need to have a strong UNITED MALAYSIANS!!! And not to forget, a world-class education system...

And, yes! Our universities are not world-class enough. Let us work together and have a better Malaysia!


p/s: miss my ex-girlfriend, Audrey Thean Ong Kei...


  1. Interesting topic... Anyway I realised I'm mixing with Malay friends nowadays more than any other people. Because they are friendly and simple minded... Unlike some of my friends, they actually became very smart and back stabs, so unprofessional in a professional workplace!
    Just wanna say, to all my Malay friends who worked with me... I really cherished all the moments and I hope there's no boundaries in our friendship.

  2. good guys and bad guys come in all creeds and colors. it's only up to us to tell the difference between what's good and bad, and act wisely not to discriminate or stereotype them by their skin color, religion or language.