Tuesday, September 30, 2014

FSKM : The future looks as bright as ever ...

A succession plan was discussed and finalized yesterday. It consists of  future leaders for  the faculty; the dean, 3 TDs and 7 KPPs. We plan, as always, but the future might not be the same as what we have planned today. The future and its reality may not be exactly the same but we hope it won’t go far way off. Whoever the future leaders are ( I won’t disclose it here la hahaha!) must be able to find some kind of solution to the current challenges facing the faculty. The challenges are :

1.       Meeting transformational demands of UiTM.
2.       The claim that our graduates are unemployable.
3.       Declining quality of our lecturers.
4.       Decreasing popularity of our programs.
5.       Research products.

Most importantly everyone must realize that the academic platform has changed to cater for the ever changing national as well as industrial demands. The QS ranking that has just come out for the year 2013/2014 has put many universities in the country in a renewed rat race. When education is seen as a rat race something will be the victim to make sure the race is won. The lecturers are no longer the noble and respectable wise men but just an information provider to produce a massive workforce.

 If we look back to the history of civilization especially Islamic civilization that was prominent during the 13th and 14th century, academics ( or ulama) sat high in the society. They have a seat in the court of the sultan or emperor as advisors. They taught out of passion for knowledge and travel in great distance to acquire new knowledge. They wrote compendiums from great philosophers of the time and made it available for the community especially the courts of their sultan to gain knowledge and advice. The civilization set its foundation and prospers throughout the world. The intention to acquire knowledge and disseminate it is pure and noble; thus the product remains till this day.

FSKM has a long way to own academic excellence but it is not something impossible. The resources should be garnered comprehensively to value knowledge and continue to seek new knowledge for the culture of knowledge creation to remain as the main agenda of the faculty. It’s not easy, as part of the faculty’s administration for many years, I know the challenge is monumental. It would take someone with incredible leadership quality and highly charismatic to take this task successfully. The succession plan was designed to meet up those challenges and we believe our chosen candidate will be perfect for the task. Whoever that person is, I wish him/her a very good luck.


Monday, September 29, 2014

My quiet Sunday

It was Sunday. “Abah nak buat apa hari ni?” my daughter asked me again and again. “Dok umah aja” I answered again and again in case she missed my earlier responses. For her, weekend could not be passed  by without going out and spending time somewhere at the place full with people and the noise level beyond the capacity of my sleepy head. She went away with a long sigh and frustrated face. I don’t care for this weekend , on Sunday, is my day to be at home. No kenduri to attend, no student activities and no kedai mamak meetings. I just wanted to spend my quiet time at home and do some little things around the house. I guess age is catching up and day by day my interest would remain around me and the place I called home. A lot of things need a fix at home and Sunday would be the only time I can pretend to be a skilled handyman and fix something.  The toilet, the water tap, the ceiling, the door, the hanger in the ironing room, the stupid HP workstation that cannot recognize the wireless signal, the garden etc are some of the things at home that I need to fix or get fixed. Usually I would wait until my FIL comes for a visit and ask him how to fix them. The next day he would fix it himself. The strategy  works all the time. But the problem is the old man does not do house visits very often nowadays; thus, the things remain unfixed for a long time now.

Anyway, this Sunday , the priority is to clean up the bedroom. The dust is building up at all corners of the room and has become extra decoration for the walls. As the cleaning went on I stumbled upon our old stuff that we stored at one corner; it has been there for a long time. The old toys that I think would be good to give away, some of my stuff from my university days in the 80s and a big pile of photo albums from some 40 years ago when we were kids. I flipped through the photo albums and my journey back in time has begun. I never realized I had the opportunity to travel to so many places in the world and experienced life beyond my wildest dream. As a small kid in the dusty town of Pasir Mas, Kelantan I had never imagined to be able to go places , learn something and make myself useful. I remember looking at other kids in their uniform passing by my house as they were coming back from sekolah cina ( a prestigious kindergarten in Pasir Mas at that time)  and felt how lucky they were to have such an opportunity. We just could not afford it, my mom said. But I was bored at home and wandered to the nearby mosque. The ustaz asked me if I wanted to join the fardhu ain class; it was free of course. I said yes and went home to get my kain pelikat and a songkok. I learnt a lot from that ustaz, may he be rewarded for all the knowledge he taught me and his kindness to me.

I picked up a photo of myself taken in Denver in 1982. I was so skinny and looking so na├»ve back then. It was the start of a 6-year life in the US. A lot of good memories there as a university student but unfortunately I was completely detached from my family. I don’t remember writing or communicating regularly with my parents or my brothers or sisters. I regret for being such a self-centered kid knowing that the family was in dire strait. But again what else can I do as the scholarship was just enough to support myself there. I never called home for extra support or anything. I am thankful, nevertheless, that I was able to finish my undergraduate as well as my master’s as promised.

Recent trip back to alma mater (2014)
A lot of photos are from our time in England where we live for about 4 years. Although it was hard for me as I was doing my PhD but at the same time it was fun to have my family with me. My wife and our three young daughters were really the beautiful flowers that blossom all year long in my heart and I cherish them all the time. The different seasons in England, however, cast different memories that make life so colorful. The cold winter brought in not only the blizzard but the hardship of life. Then the spring gave some hopes beyond the horizon that life will change for the better. We had classes in the spring; some days were warm while some other days were wet and windy. We met new friends and held parties in the spring as many people were around and we could manage to move around a bit easier. The summer was wonderful as we set to travel and saw places around England. The school was on holidays and I could get away from my PhD work for a while and took my family to visit friends. I can still smell the freshly cut grass as we stroll down the alleys at a car boot sale on Sunday morning. We enjoyed the many trips to the parks for a picnic or playtime at the playground.
we were here almost 20 years ago (2014)
Our surau in Essex still the same (2014)

Those were the times when the kids were small but now as they have grown older things are different. They all have their own life at the university or boarding schools and I would use the many quiet Sundays such as this one to rummage the old storage boxes just for the old time’s sake. The fall came inevitably to mark the end of summer and back to school. It’s the time to reconcile and finish up for the year. The spirit of festivities loomed in the air as we approached towards the end of the year; the lights, the sales and the joyous environment really made you forget the cold winter waiting in the new year. All I have now are these pictures and the vivid memory that will soon go away.

I found a photo of my house in Dungun. The house that my wife and I designed ourselves ; and it was also financed without the government loan. We hired the local tukang and paid him and his gang weekly. I love the house very much; it has a large patio and spacious attic. We lived there briefly before moving to Shah Alam where we live now. The house was sold very cheap to a colleague. I think we were never meant to own and live in a beautiful house like that one because now I realize that we will never have so much money to own such a house anymore. Allah knows the  best.
Castle Park :The park we used to come almost every week (2014)

I almost forgot that I had to finish the cleaning rather than looking at these photos. The rain came down heavily to abruptly end my reminiscence. The breeze made the room cooler and blew away the dust. I think I should not do this more often as the past times really make you feel lonely and empty. The fact that life has changed is inevitable. Whether or not we can accept the change is a whole new story. May Allah give us the strength and the will to be thankful for all the bounties bestowed upon us.