Free Malaysia Today
If the Chinese Language Society of the University of Malaya (PBCUM) wasn’t a Chinese but Geography society, would the reaction from the Chinese community be that strong? It might not be. From an outward appearance, UM represented the government, when it suppressed the Chinese society which represented the Chinese community, PBCUM was always regarded as a marginalized society and our reflex action automatically cried for help for that society.
From PBCUM statement as well as its original Bahasa Malaysia formal correspondence text, it admitted it had broken the internal regulations of the university, had never informed the authorities when they were holding functions and all their internal correspondence was not done in Bahasa Malaysia. Without doubt all these were technical mistakes made but they were still mistakes. Hence the university authorities had the right to take action on PBCUM as the society had broken the rules.
It cannot be denied that UM is bureaucratic. However, is there any government agency worldwide which is not bureaucratic? Actually there are many absurd cases such as it is a must for thesis in Chinese Studies to be written in Bahasa Malaysia. It sounds quite absurd. However this is the policy of UM; as long as it has not been changed basically, it has to be followed obediently.
Since PBCUM is one of the societies in the university body, they should not break the rules and invite trouble for themselves. This time PBCUM had overlooked this issue and inadvertently created a path for others to attack. The society was accused of “dividing races” since all its correspondence was in the Chinese language and not understood by others, will this action disunite the races? Where is the wisdom of those who complained? However such accusation did not appear on the official UM public notification.
I had discussed with some UM undergraduates related to procedure in holding activities in the campus. All the activities must have the paperwork and subjected to approval from various units. The approval may be known in one or two months’ time. Campus activities are not mega projects like constructing bridges or roads in civil engineering but the tedious and troublesome bureaucracy is a big headache. Can these rules be improved? It will not. Under the University Act, all undergraduates are prohibited from participating in political activities. Such an Act is meant to control the students. The question is did the university practice double standard if other societies also committed the same mistake, or the authority just closed one eye? If such practices do happen, there is reason to be angry.
Even if the petition is successful, it is not considered a victory
Even if the petition is supported with thousands and thousands of signatures, it makes one feel uneasy and helpless. Why? It created a situation where the whole Chinese community is “requesting” to the authority. It’s at the mercy of the Vice Chancellor to be kind enough to give the society a second chance. Hence, even if the petition is successful, it is not a victory for PBCUM. No matter how aggressive the Chinese community reacted and criticized the ban, all the opinions and reports are written in the Chines, isn’t it? How much information is carried across to the university authority?
To survive on a narrow difficult path, it needs special technique. Ali Baba system (not referring to Jack Ma) is a solid proof. We are always capable of finding a way out in a situation encompasses with various rules and restrictions. We either jump across or go in big circles but never in direct confrontations. PBCUM was negligent, but it does not have to be so pitiful in begging. Just be patient and tolerate for a while until the cold winter is over. By then, if the university authority is still unwilling to lift the freeze, the authority’s action can be regarded as irrational. At that time we will have the basic ground to protest.