Saturday, September 25, 2004

Campus elections anyone?

The university election has once again been concluded and the results? Who knows or cares. That's the answer you'll get if you go around asking most of the students in the university, why? Cause there is no cause to be bothered knowing who your Majlis Perwakilan Pelajar(MPP) / Students Representative Council (SRC) are. I've always been baffled why the newspapers are always so keen to print news such as "Pro-government candidates wins!" or "Council still dominated by opposition candidates". How do they even identify who's who affiliation wise? Do they have stickers saying "a vote for me is a vote for the government"? Frankly if the authorities are worried about which campus is heading towards opposition inclination then Universiti Malaysia Sabah(UMS) is in no danger at all. We can't be bothered nor are the candidates even have the slightest inclination towards national politics! Ask many and they'll are more proficient at spouting out names of the latest MTV popstars than to name their own cabinet ministers.

To me I wouldn't be bothered at all whatever their affiliations are and the reason being, it has no direct impact on how they do their job at all! The SRC should be more concerned about carrying out the job mandated to them as in their namesake that is the student's welfare and rights. Each year it'll be the same, there'll be a big brouhaha about the elections and candidates will be named, but from the bunch that I see applying for the job, much can be said. Most of the time elections are not even needed, school and residential elections are usually a no show as candidates are often below quota (they had to drag some helpless guy who don't even want the position) that applicants, whether they're worthy or not often win without contesting. As for the University Council, the candidates are often a sorry bunch that leaves much to be desired.
The list of candidates will be displayed, the students may make a quick glance and later regret we even did. Most will vote not for the best man for the job but based on how their picture look on poster (mmm maybe that guy will do the job, he does look better than the guy with the mole next to his pic). Add to this that the candidates often don't campaign, have a solid agenda, no idea how university politics are run or that they don't even put an ounce of effort into it. For those that are afraid that the students will turn to radicalism, fear not, they don't have it in them. Who would I vote for? If I could I wouldn't even! One candidate once said in a speech "I am for defending the rights of all students, that we'll be able to have the freedom to have our rights and make this university great!". Problem is he most probably don't know what the heck he's talking about, no clear idea on how to fix our problems or just making a grand speech with no real intention to help the students after he is elected.

For the three years I've been in campus, the bunch of elects are usually the same, spineless and toothless beings. What use is there for a council when:

  1. Their office is always closed so that we cannot complain;
  2. They have no real power to represent the students nor negotiate with the administration to solve our problems;
  3. Every problems are solved by issuing memos on what they are trying to do (usually a meeting with the higher ups but with no concrete results after that) but no real solutions to the problems;
  4. They never take time to ask the people they represent as to what's bugging them;
  5. They are not held accountable to the students if they fail in their responsibilities; and
  6. They're just ball-less eunuchs

So why do people still apply for it? Besides the fact that we need to uphold the pretext that there exist a democratic body to represent the students rights, the other more likely answer is that the members elect are given a free trip (yes its true!) to a foreign country once their tenure are up. One batch we experienced especially during the most turbulent administrative year where we were plagued with transportation schedule problems, PTPTN (a government student loan program) which is always late, course registration fiascos and a lack of facilities for students, that year the council (some of the members I personally knew) were flown to Europe for a "sharing of minds and broadening of experience plus networking of future leaders". My, if these are our leaders for tomorrow I really don't know if the country is going to run aground. If they can't even effectively work as a team to sort out the university student's problems how more so can they tackle real and serious decisions that will affect millions of lives?

I was more impressed with the representative process in Singapore's junior college when I was there. Even for the prefectorial board there were elections and they really campaigned! Not only were there weekly speeches, but the problems they address and concerns raised are for the students and about the students. They brought themselves up in poise and walk around the campus greeting everyone during the campaign trails, issuing token such as stickers and name badges espousing their candidacy. There is even a journal detailing the campaign with write ups and biodatas on each candidate. Plus the elects are not assured of their positions so any foul ups or lack of duty can be brought up with the effect of relinquishing them of their positions. Now that's a system that should be adopted by our candidates wannabes, which we would like to call more matured than a bunch of junior college students.


Anonymous said...

Su Ling: In USM...we were force to vote!! Don't even know who are they. Just simply checked those boxes!

Kervin said...

Guess it's same everywhere. Here too as we've been threatened of expulsion from university hostels, barred from certain privilages or exemption from registering for courses. Of course protests comes in the form of spoilt votes, chad anyone?