Last week was a two day full of meetings for me. For less than a week from being appointed as an executive in the UKECatalyst, a new job just came - that is to prepare for a strategic meeting between 22 organisations of Malaysian students in the UK-Eire. From shaking hands to listening their thoughts, all are worthwhile. The spirits were overwhelming, all attendees were pumped up and ready for this one whole day meeting.
As I was appointed to be a note taker during breakout session is Students Activism & Intellectual Discourses, I choose to write it here of my personal reflection after jotting down student leaders' disappointment and probably to revamp intellectual discourses that has been flourishing among Malaysian students in the UK.
1.Misunderstanding that politicians are scholars, where politicians are merely a tool.
This argument was proposed by a lad from Independent School of Thinkers, that argue for some organisations inviting Malaysian politicians to come to London as part of their intellectual discourses. This is true, intellectual discourses cannot narrowed down to merely politics.It is too superficial and undeniably of less benefit to students' themselves.This leads to the idea of 'pseudo-intellectualism', where we shall discuss later.
2. "I am from a partisan organisation, but my event is of no political agenda."
It is ad hominem, really, that people often misunderstood events handled by Kelab UMNO London is to attract people to join them and that's not the case. Students must understand that although they are sponsored by political organisation in Malaysia, that does not mean it has underlying agenda meant to spread the political doctrine among Malaysian students in the UK.
3.Ineffective Intellectual Discourses
Suah Jing Lian, from LSE, proposed that inviting scholarly intellectuals should immense discussions and academically rigorous with research done by postgrads prior to the event. A better quality and higher output will be produced.But what about a layman attending an event to simply learn Economics? What about those who are not interested at all? How to reach them? As Faizul(UKEC) proposed, the idea is to identify the audiences targeted in the event. Some suggests more to restructuring the intellectual discourse, some suggests to increase the bar and metric, but in the end if it meets the objectives and target audience, that will be sufficient.
4. Students seeking for justice
"Advocation of justice, equality, human rights and everything in between does not necessarily mean you are a politician"(Dr. Borhan). As true as it is, students questioned the retaliation over students and citizens for speaking of justice and truth. As this is proposed by KPUM(Kumpulan Pelajar Undang-Undang Malaysia/ Students Association of Malaysian Law Students in UK-Eire), probably I could relate with Steven Thiru, the chairman for Malaysian Bar Council and his speech when he was at UCL. The intervention made by some elitist in Malaysia have made the movement to be more subtle, in the sense that students are constraint to adhering only to what is being told by their sponsors, and further restraining political activism and political maturity that should be nurtured among students.
Do not fall trap in the pseudo-intellectualism.Inviting politicians simply not an intellectual discourse. Understanding the idea of intellectual and intellectualism should enlighten students' objectives prior to planning for an event. Students have various opinions on using partisan, non-partisan, or bi-partisan platform to address on making changes to Malaysia, but in the end the common interest is to have a better Malaysia despite different path that we choose.
6. "We are here with business attires, why are we too elitist when we say we are student leaders?"
Dear, defining formal and business attire is one thing. Undeniably true, i have seen Indonesians proud wearing their Baju Batik when attending formal functions, and yet, we Malaysians( and I myself) hardly would wear baju kurung/baju melayu. Are we less or even uncultured, at all? I remember I went to Malaysian Hall canteen and a stranger reminded me to not lose the Malay values. I questioned myself, what are the Malay values? Decency, politeness, modesty, respect for elders, speaking with good words and using proper language with underlying meaning if you want say something without hurting other people's feelings are part of being a Malay. It is superficial, really, to say that we are elitist just because we came to a formal function with business attire when we all share the same nationalities and the cultural values as Malaysians.
In the end, Malaysian students abroad share the same interest, same love and same passion to create a better movement for Malaysia. it was thought provoking day, I was tired, but the satisfaction was beyond imagination. Students in Malaysia should know that students abroad do care about our country, that we are not just here for travelling and spending money to go shopping. We have various students' movements and activism and we are optimist to building a better nation.
Disclaimer : This is merely the writer's opinion and does not represent UKEC.