Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tuesdays With Bapak

Voices For Freedom and Change -- November 13 2007

I know that I was always told that our neighbour Indonesia "bertumpah darah" to achieve their independence from their ruthless Dutch colonialists.
Malaya, on the other hand, had it quite easy. On a silver platter.
I can't remember who told this to me.
Now, that's how legends are made.
Not this one. Before long, the bubble burst for me.

"Siapa bilang?", roared Bapak when I asked him one day, a long time ago. I think I was doing a term paper on Malaysian politics in college.

His "siapa bilang?" did not mean that there was absolutely no truth in the Indonesian bloody struggle for independence.
I shan't go into details of Indonesian politics and the background except to say that it is true that their struggle was bloody. If they stand proud as a nation today, then they should because they fought tooth and nail for their independence.

Well, so did we. Though not as bloody as they did. But, we shed tears and blood too.

Historians would know better the story of Maria Hertogh or Natra, the Dutch girl at the centre of a custody battle (between her natural parents and adopted mother).
The fight to gain her custody sparked riots in Singapore (in the early 50s).

It was at the same time that Malaya was fighting for independence from the British.

Now, you can say that Natra's predicament had nothing to do with the independence struggle in Singapore.
Perhaps not. But it certainly coincided with what was going on in the island.

Bapak was in the thick of it all.
He took part in the protests, and the riots.
I think his role has been documented.

"I think I burnt a car belonging to a high-level British officer," he remarked, in a tone that has kept me guessing until today whether or not he actually did that.

I remember feeling shocked. I was aghast.
What? My father did all that?

You know....what's the blooming difference, right?

When I was in UiTM (then ITM), way back in 1973/74 for my pre-University studies, I took part in a protest. Rather a WALK. A MARCH.
Yes.... all the way to Parliament to demand for ITM to be given university status.

But..er..I wish it was that easy.
The truth is, we never got anywhere near Parliament. The FRU were waiting for the students outside campus and near the federal highway. Many were hit by batons and tear gas.
Many escaped into the bushes and secondary forest along the highway and into the kampungs.
Just remember that more than 30 years ago, the federal highway was nothing like what it is today.

I remember the night we were going for the march.
(They were our student leaders. Yes, they were.)

The students were asked to gather at the square infront of the Hostel 2 dining hall after dinner (or was it "maghrib".)
Student leaders "dengan semangat berkobar2" spoke and gave a moral boost to the students.
Then, (ok...so this was a Malay-based institution), some students shouted "Allahuakbar".
The march was to begin. The students started singing this song : "Ini lah barisan kita, yang ........"
Whoa! The semangat was tangible.

It was going to be a peaceful march. Everyone went in a single file towards the exit gates.

By the time, we were about to leave campus, some students began turning back, saying "FRU FRU .... budak2 dah kena...".

Our thoughts were for our "fallen comrades" among whom were very important people in government now.

That night, the rest of us remained in campus. In darkness. Water and electricity supply was cut.

The next morning, we were told that the students "had taken over" the admin building. The "pak guards" were powerless.
The "gestapo" (from among our students) were manning the entrance and exit gates.

I saw no point in remaining so my room-mate and I decided to leave.

We must have convinced the "gestapo" on guard that morning to let us leave as I remember heading for the hilly path that led to the federal highway where we hitched a ride to Petaling Jaya.

On reaching PJ State (PJ new town), we took a taxi to my house.

The next evening, ITM director Arshad Ayub (who lived just a few hundred metres from our house) came over to visit Bapak.
He was there to discuss with Bapak the "ITM students" problem.

Did the protest and march change things for ITM?
You tell me...


Faten Rafie said...

I was waiting the whole morning for the last installation of TWB, I am not disappointed.

Your protest and march did change things for ITM, getting it's university status, even thought it took more that 20 years (if I'm not mistaken)to do so. So there's no questioning if taking things to the street do help in making positive changes

Changes need catalyst, and someone need to get the ball rolling.

Just curious, why even those who were part of the ITM march in the 70s look in horror to the current happenings. Does current comfortable lifestyle and political/profesional position make them not want changes anymore? That they do not wish to have a better country for their future generations? Isn't that very selfish?

Don't even get me started on the newer generation, the so called generation-X - my generation. What made them sold out? Money? Comfort of familiarity? Never having to fight for anything?

Hussin said...


The protest did not change anything about ITM (er UiTM) becos it is the government who is so perihatin about the college and the Malays that decided to upgrade it.

Just like the 4,000 (er 40,000) "pondans" who marched on Saturday will not change anything becos they are too small compared to the 25 million Malaysians who want to see a peaceful country without riots.

But I'm sure you are proud of what you did and I think it contributed to making you what you are today, a complete person.

LuciusMaximus said...

an interesting post indeed...
i was a student in what is now uitm, 26 years later after ur pre-u day and despite all my knowledge on history or the alternative version of it (those blurred by the power that be) i must say i dont know a single thing bout itm students did have their own demo before.
but yes 'student power' was pretty big those days until the introduction of the dreaded AUKU. the 1973/74 demonstration might have failed to achieved what you all have desired but i believe it paved the way for itm to be changed into uitm years later.
i guess in that sense i owes a lot to you and your colleagues :)

Pi Bani said...

Oh, THAT demonstration. My eldest sis was in ITM then. She and another friend decided to "menyeludup" keluar in somebody's car before the whole thing took place. There was no phone at home then and so my sister couldn't call us. My mom was worried sick. My uncle tried to go to ITM to find out but couldn't get anywhere near. Finally dapat telegram (now ada lagi ke benda alah ni?) saying that she was safe at a friend's house. Barulah my parents rasa legaaa...

Anonymous said...

Kak ena...

Interesting story.

Its hard to believe that I am now teaching here in UITM (together with Noraini Yusof). I miss the old days so much, well, working under you. Take care,

Hajar ex City Life

Rockybru said...

as a journalist in the 80s, i covered quite a bit of demonstrations for the paper. these were mainly pickets by trade unions. the mtuc the was rather militant and was bitching about mahathir's refusal to see them. i agreed with narayanan, david and zainal -- the pm wasn't too friendly with them. perhaps because they were too close to the dap.

anyway, they staged some very big pickets then. the national union of bank employees, too, were quick to take to the streets. heck, the national union journalists marched around jalan riong demanding this and that! we were shouting and chanting.

of course, i missed the malaysia airlines' industrial strike and i was too little to join utusan melayu's 1962 protest. of maria hertogh, i only read of the demonstrations.

and, of course, the student power at itm in the 70s. the demonstrations that made people like anwar, zaid, ibrahim ali, hishamudin rais and their peers what they are today.

i joined itm during another era, when students were not allowed to voice their thoughts through protest marchers and the sort.

the students of my time let off steam by creating cliques and gangs. the kelantanese boys will chase after the johor lads who will beat up the boys who own bikes who have friends in klang who are gangsters and they would come to the campus to put fear in everyone else.

peaceful marches on the street to fight for our rights and a better malaysia? who need them, eh?

later on, i started taking part in massive rrallies organied by the newspaper of some ngos close to the government. we had the peace march by aman malaysia, the barisan bertindak bosnia's gatherings, etc. there were no issue about getting permits. did anything untoward happen? nope. and that's because the cops did not start anything that could lead to something untoward happening. like they did during reformasi.

but the reformasi marches were something else .... when they had al gore in the picture, they lost me.

Bergen said...

When it comes to believing in what they are doing, I gotta hand it to PAS. They don't give up. They don't have second thoughts. Call it 'taksub' or other words that are meant to belittle their struggle. They don't have second thoughts.

You are having second thoughts, aren't you?

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

whoaa...tell me honestly, what else didnt tan sri do back then? i'd say almost as good as none. he even had the privilege to burn a car! haha...that was cool and crazy man.

*cant really imagine there was actually some kampung houses along jalan parlimen. and jalan damansara perhaps? definitely not jalan duta.

Rauff said...

My generation are not as brave as yours or rocky's. No where close in fact. I acted on my own accord and started writing about the shortcomings of UiTM and quickly got expelled for it. It does not take an idiot to know how sub-par the system is. Just look~ and listen~ the lecturers can't even speak good English.


athene: life, human nature, evolution, evolvement in lifestyle, values....whatever.
all these change people. rather people do change. some don;t. some are consistent.

but we were students then. fiery. young blood. idealistic.

i'd still walk a mile to make a statement.
i'd still wear or don -- any colour -- to express my sentiment.
i'd put up stickers or posters to tell you what i think....

there is absolutely nothing wrong in doing all these or acting "symbolically' to be heard.

hussin: there are many moments in our life that have been signifcant in making us what we are.
you are right on many points.

thank you for visiting.

Lucius: what the students did at that time was what students would NATURALLY and NORMALLY in those days to express themselves, to make a stand etc etc..

nice to know an alumnus! take care and thanks for visiting.

Pi: Waah.... iye-ke? your sister pun?
those were the days.... after that ITM closed sementara. and then were were called to re-register.... semua kena interview balik.
ada yang kena expelled.
you know... as an adult (who has lived for half a century) and a responsible and loyal citizen of this country, i think some checkered and indelible points in my life have really enriched me as an individual and a human being.

take care...

Rocky: I say... i wonder. between you and Nazri Aziz, siapa yang pondan, ek?

students your time have got no other avenu or channel to let off steam.
we all ada "speaker's corner" macam Universiti Malaya jugak.
We all ada cultural troupe and activities.
I was secretary of our PESKA (ITM's cultural association) for a while.
We took part in the inter-state Cultural Performances competition.
Fatimah ABu Bakar began her foray in drama and theatre at ITM.

But...hey...with or without the "tunjuk perasaan" experience in college...you've done pretty well.

hmmm. i like the malay word "tunjuk perasaan". translate it. very apt.

Anon (Hajar): You a lecturer at UiTM? amboi...good for you!
what are you traching?
and i think you meant Noraini Shariff?

bergen: yes.i do agree that Pas very unflagging, unremitting in their belief.
second thoughts? moi?
of course not.

kerp: i always believe that sometimes there is a reason why some people go through life they way they do.

rauff: bravery is subjective. and a matter of opinion.
what you did is very brave, got you expelled...

it is regretful, that not only UiTM suffers that problem.. i think it is true of other institutions too.

Anonymous said...

I was six year old then and my late uncle was Arshad Ayub's Deputy. His home, where my grandparents also lived, was right infront of the Shah Alam campus gate.

I was there when the Police were patrolling the campus. I remembered when electricity and water were cut off. Policemen and ITM security personnel comes over to the house to consult my late uncle ever so often during this period.

I did not understand why but I was one who suffered.

Yes, ITM was elevated to a University status in the early 2000. It got nothing to do with the 'march' you ppl did.

Prime Minister Dato' Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad felt it was timely that ITM be upgraded into UiTM, after consultations, which include the alumni. In 1974, he was the Minister of Education when the students 'demonstrated', for the same cause.

There are ways of getting things done. Eventually, the consultation way is more productive and bore better results, with lesser knocks on head and much lesser burning-session in the eyes.

Anonymous said...

Kak Ena.

Nop.nop. Its Noraini the wife of Shukor Rahim, formerly an NST photographer.

I am with the Mass Comm faculty, teaching diploma, here in Lendu, Alor Gajah Melaka.

I am enjoying myself teaching the kids (age 18 ++), but kadang-kadang rindu nak balik Jalan Riong.



bigdog: maybe not..the student demonstration may not have played any role in helping ITM gain university status more than two decades later.
of course... that would be the most acceptable platitude--- "hold consultations" as these would be productive.
surely the consultations before the government decided to grant ITM university status were a logical process anyway.

that said...there are many ways to skin a cat. the gempa' way, the soft way, the hard way, the effective way......

no, i didn't think you'd walk a mile (or less) for .....


anon(Hajar): oh..ok. sorry.
mass comm, ke? ajar newswriting, ke?

batalutu said...

hi..tumpang lalu.
Seronok kongsi cerita super duper senior itm ni. My time ada sekali "tunjuk perasaan" i.e during arwah datok nik rashid. Tu pun tunjuk perasaan pasal kena pakai helmet dari kolej jati nak masuk kampus.Sebelum tu takyah pakai, but then polis suruh pakai. So budak2 masa tu demonstrate la kat 'puduraya' itm (depan library). Sebenarnya, in mid 80s student dah takde issue nak demonstrate or nak diperjuangkan. I myself masuk JPP, masa nak kempen tak tau issu apa nak fight for. student dah comfortable, or maybe tak terdedah dgn big issues? ntahlah. Zahari awang kecik is the president masa tu, abg dia adham awang kecik adun kelantan. I rasa dia pun tak kemana jugak sekarang ni. Mungking era tu student lebih enjoy campus life. Tapi i rasa sekarang lagi teruk especially kala u tengok citer apa ke nama yg kat tv3 pasal budak2 unisel tu. Lagi teruk, semua enjoy punya hal. I banned my kid from watching that. Sis nuraina, u anak pak samad sasterawan negara ke?

Rockybru said...


Of course Big Dog won't, can't walk the mile .. At least not yet. And I don't mean he can't/won't because of his legendary physical attributes. It's got more to do with where he's leaning to.

And he happens to be right. The ITM's students march did not lead immediately or even directly to the granting of university status and the creation of Uitm.

By the time they made it a university, the standards there have dropped substantially.

Tell me, where does it stand now among varisities ?

Hi&Lo said...

Martin Luther King Jr writing from Birmingham jail (1963):

* We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

* How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts the human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.

* One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.

* In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery?

Anonymous said...

Kak ena.

A.ah masscomm.

Ajar basic2 je newswriting coz diaorg tu peringkat diploma. Newswriting is part of a subject which incorporates a few media writing styles, so its really very basic. Those interested in journalism can continue journalism kat peringkat degree later2.


Kak Teh said...

Ena, I remember a visit by Ibrahim Ali to recruit students for the march. That was before I joined Mass Comm. But of course, my brother came along the same evening to fetch me home. So, I missed everything - but I remember the student power, the marches as reported.

You mentioned the paper you did on politics - guess what? recently I met the son of the lecturer who taught us government politics..Dato Ahmad Nordin??

Anonymous said...


Some people disagree about the perception where UiTM standing is today. The truth is, UiTM today is doing world class research, such as the UiTM's Bio-Tech Institute (under the School of Applied Science and School of Medicine) "research on the bone mass loss in the space environment of weightlessness", which was carried out by Angkasawan Negara Dr. Sheikh Muzaphar Shukor (who himself a orthopedic surgeon and do research on this field) when he was in ISS, at the elevation of 360km in October.

Scientists in NASA, Japanese and Russian Space Agencies are seriously following the outcome of this research, for the fate of future astronauts in long term space exploration missions.

Yes, I would not walk a mile, for anyone or anything. The next mile or few miles I'd walk is when I do the Hajj (Arafah-Muzdalifah-Mina, tawaf and saiee).

The last time I walked was between Pekan Nenas, Pontian and Bakri, Muo, Johor in October of 1982 (a distance of 100 miles, in four days). I was 90kgs lighter then (from my weight now) and 135kgs lighter than at my peak.

The ONLY time I am ever involved in a "demonstration" was in 1991, from Newcastle University mosque (which is the ONLY mosque in the city) to the City Hall (hardly 800 yards away), to demonstrate against the Israelis (with some Palestinians, Iraqis, Egyptians, Libyans, Indonesians, Morrocans, Tunisian, Turkish, Nigerians, South Africans and Pakistani students) during the 'Intifada' uprising in the occupied territories.

There were hardly 100 of us and it was after Friday prayers. The were about 30 Malaysians in that "demonstration". Had we did not show solidarity to our Muslim brothers (same Kariah), the whole posse would have had 30% less participants.


Yes, very true. So many ways of skinning the cat.

The Dato' Ibrahim Ali's-Tan Sri Salleh Sulong's-Dato' Mohd. Salleh Majid's-Prof Dato' Ibrahim Abu Shah's way, with the support of Deputy Education Minister Dato' Aziz Shamsuddin's strong support in 2000 was more productive in achieving the desired results, despite ITM Director Dato' Ir. Ahmad Zaidee Laidin's and Minister of Education Tan Sri Musa Mohamed's stern opposition to the idea then.

Some cat-skinning method is much better for most.

Anonymous said...

Tun Salleh Abas, our former Lord President, speaks out for the first
time after Lingam Tape broke into news.
Please help to inform co-workers, friends, and family. See invitation
letter as attached. Please put the ads on blogs if possible.

Event Details:

How to Stop the ROT?
Public Forum on Judicial Crisis

Date: 16/11/2007 (Friday)
Time: 8 - 10 pm
Venue: Federal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur (35, Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala
Admission is Free. All are welcome

Tun Salleh Abbas (former Lord President)
Datuk Shaik Daud (former Court of Appeal Judge)
Ragunath Kesavan (Vice President of Bar Council)
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (former Deputy Prime Minister, Advisor to KeADILan)

Sivarasa Rasiah (Human Rights Lawyer)

Kit Pryde said...

dear kak nuraina, i am one of the 1st ex-students who received degrees from UiTM. thanks for standing up for what you wanted.

i hope that one day, the future generations will also thank and remember those who marched on 10/11/07.


Salt N Turmeric said...

Sis, im not sure if itm or uitm has changed much. i went to itm tganu and it was a tough time for me, being a student fr the west coast i.e not wearing tudung, not girly enuf and pretty bold.

I remember my cost acct lecturer who did a wrong calculation and got a wrong answer and had the NERVE to tell us that the question was wrong.

I also know of a girl who uses sex to pass her economy paper!

Well, u tell me sis. has it changed much fr those time and mine? :(

Anonymous said...

Hi Nuraina,
Things change with the passage of time... "flower power & student demos" were the in-things in the 60's & 70's... alas, these are no longer "cool" for the younger generations nowadays. Are they effective in making socio-economic changes? Maybe to a certain extent... I suppose it could be useful for personal development, making a statement about your beliefs & principles, etc., its part of growing up in those days. Personally I believe, these days, alternative strategies which could be equally or more effective could/should be deployed. For one thing, blogging is having as big an impact (albeit a "silent" one vs the "noisy" marches) without us having to go on the streets (unless of course if one feels like experiencing the "real" thing, the foam, water jets, FRUs, etc). Take care & salam.

Anonymous said...

nowadays, students do not have vision, guts and power to oppose. No wonder uitm management now is getting worse. Ironically, I am still a fresh graduate from uitm, and I just can't believe the type of students uitm had back then, when I read your post. Were uitm students that brave?never heard that type of story from any lecturers/staffs

5th_E Taib said...


"We all ada cultural troupe and activities.
I was secretary of our PESKA (ITM's cultural association) for a while.
We took part in the inter-state Cultural Performances competition.
Fatimah ABu Bakar began her foray in drama and theatre at ITM."

I was just doing a random search of PESKA UITM and came across ur blog. Kool! Im a member of PESKA since '98 till present, and I'm a teaching staff @ UiTM's PErf Arts Fac as well.

Anyways, Im very glad to have come across my super duper senior who was once attached to PESKA. FYI, PESKA Dancers is still being taught by Noni.