Jan 16: The current YouTube-driven storm surrounding an UMNO propagandist’s attempt at silencing a student from speaking out against government policies during a forum for university students in Kedah last month continues to generate reactions.
For PAS’s Research Centre head Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, the incident, in which the president of a pro-Barisan Nasional outfit called ‘Suara Wanita 1Malaysia’, Sharifah Zohra Jabeen Syed Shah Miskin humiliated K.S. Bawani in front of an audience of some 2000 other students, could only be the tip of the iceberg.
“One shudders at the thought that the episode is only the tip of the iceberg of decades-long indoctrination or downright bullying that personifies the BTN ‘s ‘capacity building’ programmes,” he said in comments to Harakahdaily, referring to Biro Tata Negara, the government’s controversial political arm which holds compulsory indoctrination sessions for students and civil servants.
“Most appalling is the bull-dozing type of approach in instilling conformity and compliance, in what is our ivory tower supposedly responsible to nurture enterprising graduates who are intellectually superior and morally vibrant,” added Dzulkefly, who is also Kuala Selangor member of parliament.
Agreeing with overwhelming majority of netizens who have condemned Sharifah Zohra over her tirade, Dzulkefly (right) described the incident as “unmistakenly pathetic and extremely deplorable”.
He said it should serve as warning to the Higher Education ministry to take steps in empowering human potential and capital “before they are irreparably damage beyond redemption by little napoleans”.
“No amount of effort at ‘turning around’ our ailing education sysyem would be of any significant use, if we are to be continuously subverted by little napoleans who are allegedly working in concert with those in the corridors of power,” he said, while pledging “little tolerance to such BTN-type of pseudo-intellectual nonsense” if Pakatan Rakyat comes to power after the general election.
The ‘listen’ episode has been so named after the now-famous rant by Sharifah Zohra, repeating the word “listen” eleven times in a bid to stop Bawani, a second year law student of Universiti Utara Malaysia. Speaking from the floor at the forum held at the UUM campus, Bawani defended leaders of electoral reforms coalition Bersih from accusation of ‘anarchism’ and cited data and figures to urge the government to provide free education.
The YouTube video of the incident has so far fetched more than half a million viewers, less than a week after being uploaded, making it probably Malaysia’s most sensational clip on the video-sharing site.
Lim recalls incident
Meanwhile, DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang (left) said the ‘listen’ saga brought to mind an incident in parliament in the seventies when he was stopped midway into his speech by “a powerful UMNO Cabinet Minister”.
Lim recalled that he was then told by the minister, who he did not name, that he could leave Malaysia if he was critical of UMNO/BN.
“My instant retort to him that if he did not want to hear what I have to say on behalf of Malaysians who sent me to Parliament, he was the one who could leave Malaysia!” said Lim.
Echoing Dzulkefly, Lim said the latest incident only proved the hypocrisy of prime minister Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia slogan.
“Sharifah [Zohra] is the latest in the long-line of anti-1Malaysia sentiments expressed by so-called advocates and exponents of Najib’s 1Malaysia policy, all products of the Biro Tata Negara,” he added.