For some of us, the most interesting UNITEN-related thing we can remember about the past few weeks is the drama that unfolded on the MPP UNITEN Facebook page, specifically the allegations made by certain parties towards another, and the resignation of 5 Student Representative Council (SCR) members. For the uninitiated, here’s the tea:
*Disclaimer: The UNITEN Curry House and all its affiliates wish to express that the views and opinions within this article do not necessarily reflect those of our own. We wish to provide students with an impartial view of the situation by presenting the evidence before the reader and allowing them to judge for themselves the truth of the matter. (We’re all adults here. Let’s be mature about this.)
It all began with the 18/19 elections. To the average observer, the 18/19 elections may have seemed like any previous election, with the usual campaigning going on. To the keen eye, however, things may not have seemed so pretty. Under the surface, tensions were bubbling. For the first time in UNITEN history, there seemed to be two different coalitions in play, with a few independent candidates thrown into the mix. Of course, we here at UNITEN are a civilized people, so no name calling occurred, at least not in official capacity (obvious reference to a certain Member of Parliament who recently dropped an F-bomb in response to a comment made by a fellow MP during parliament. I would insert a gif here of the historical event, but that might violate certain rules and result in this article being taken down, so here’s a woman flipping a table instead).
After the election results came out, things weren’t so fruity. Former SRC member, Sharan Raj started the ball rolling with this now-deleted Facebook post:
This post was promptly taken down for reasons unclear to us. On the 25th of July 2018, former and elected SRC member Salendra Satianesan followed up with a Facebook post detailing the resignation of five elected SRC members. In the letter signed by Ahmad Eizat Afnan, Salendra Satianesan, Pravin Mariappan, Allan K Abraham and Bhoshaga Mitrran Ravi Chandran, they brought to light issues such as victimization, conflict and personal agendas. The letter is best summarized in this sentence: “Continuing to be in the Council would mean being untrue among ourselves, with greed of power and disrespecting our beliefs.”
This post has garnered just over 250 collective likes and comments as of the day of writing this article. We cannot say that we weren’t also guilty of waiting in anticipation for a response from the current SRC council. However, that response has never come. Well, not until today at least.
During our interview with the current SRC line-up, we asked them about the challenges they faced during their first two weeks on the job and about their manifestos and of course, their take on the drama of the past weeks.
One of the most burning questions we wanted to ask was: “Why the silence?” The President of the SRC, Muhammad Amer Danial Bin Rahmat had this to say: “We have to follow the right procedure, not just create chaos [by posting about the issue publicly on social media]. Rather than doing that, why don’t we take the high ground and do our best [to serve the students]?” The other SRC members replied similarly by stating that they wish to remain professional, and thus have decided to maintain their silence, at least on social media.
Head of Student Development II, Mohd Shazwan Bin Mohd Shaffi acknowledges that students want answers. He urges the students to hear out both sides of the arguments first before concluding anything. Shazwan wished to highlight the lack of evidence from the accusing side, saying: “If we really stole berpuluh ribu, then the management should be able to track the money easily.” Along with Treasurer, Aiman Azhari Bin Abdul Rahim and Vice President, Alhasan Ali M.W., Shazwan invites all inquisitive students who wish to judge for themselves the truth to come and visit the SRC office and hear out their side of the argument and see the evidence that they have to offer. “The door is always open”.
Another common thread in the interviews was the impact the allegations had on the current SRC line-up.
“It hurt, hearing them say that. It hurt.”
“I don’t know why they would say that about me, about being greedy for power. I don’t even know him [The particular non-HEP staff] that well.”
Some SRC members were also concerned about the impact that the accusations have had on the student’s trust towards the SRC, which was already weak to begin with. The current SRC line-up consists of only 10 members. Zhafri, Ali, Amer, and Aiman had similar views regarding the resignation of the five elected SRC members. They believe that the five elected members should not have resigned. Zhafri said that despite the miscommunications, the SRC should have stayed together and sorted things out. “Maybe they have their own right [to resign], but they shouldn’t be spreading rumours to api-apikan students.” He also addressed the accusations about racism, saying that there is nothing at all of the sort, and that the claims about tables being slammed may have been exaggerated. “In the end, we serve the students, not ourselves,” he said. Some members weren’t as emphatic, however. “The students voted for you. If you aren’t going to do the job, why run for election at all?” said Ali.
The current SRC members urge the students to give their full support to the council. “If you have anything you want to share, any suggestions, come to me and we will execute it together. It’s not just MPP, but it’s a responsibility we all share,” said Nur Ain Binti Jamaluddin, General Secretary of the SRC.
Despite the hectic first two weeks of their tenure, the SRC have not forgotten their promises towards the students. For Amer, it all comes down to doing things as a team. Amer is a strong believer in the power of teamwork. He believes that by tackling each issue together, they can fulfill their manifestos. Whether this means breaking the ice between foreign and local students, organizing a #KITAUNITEN Presidential Conference, instilling Islamic Morals in our daily lives, empowering women, creating platforms for volunteerism, establishing e-Magazines for each Kelompok, making our campus greener, establishing a study clinics platform, increasing affordability on campus, overcoming sexual harassment, increasing transparency and social justice, empowering students for better futures, preparing 24-hour printing services and cafes, transforming NADi into a “one-stop centre” for all students to access various systems online, creating a fund for needy students or continuing the #KITAUNITEN social movement, the SRC will work together to achieve these goals.
By listing out these campaign promises, we create accountability for the SRC. As students of UNITEN, we must do more than just mind our studies and hang out with our friends. We must play an active role in making UNITEN a better place. Whether that’s by pestering SRC to carry out their campaign promises or becoming executives in the SRC or just taking part in the various events organized on campus, we all have our roles to play. With that, we urge you to, dear reader to always strive for the truth, to always strive to be better than we are now and to contribute to our community, no matter how small our contributions. As SRC’s motto says, “Through our actions we prove ourselves.”
Written by: The UNITEN Curry House