Thursday, July 22, 2010




Mr. Chairman,
The Rector,
Members of the Academic and Administrative Staff,
Members of the Organising Committee,
Brothers and Sisters in Islam.


First of all I would like to congratulate members of the organising committees for their hard work to make a success of the Legal Fiesta and the Economic Forum.

It is enlightening to see the themes for the occasion. Millef 2001 for example is focusing on the 3 PROS, or on being “ Progressive …….. Professional ………… and Pro Active. “

In this season of student bashing and the stress on meritocracy, it is refreshing to see that IIUM students are looking forward towards becoming pro-active and progressive professionals.

Let us hope that the stress on meritocracy, for us, is just a confirmation of what IIUM has always stood for.

I was informed that this could be the last event for final year students of both faculties. If that is so I would like to touch on a few of my recent and past experiences in order that you too will always reflect on your past experiences in your effort to build a better tomorrow for yourself, your family, your people, the nation and the ummah.


When I was appointed as the President of this University by His Highness the Constitutional Head,  The Sultan of Pahang, I received a delegation from the administration saying that a few academics have questioned the legality of my appointment, as the University Constitution stipulated that such appointment can only be made in consultation with the representatives of Muslim nations who sit on the Majlis.

The dispute here is in the word consultation.

This word is also used for the Prime Minister, Menteri Besar or The Chief Minister who appoint their ministers and executive council members in consultation with the King, The Sultan or the Governor respectively.

When a King, Sultan or Governor attempt to reject the list of appointees proposed by the Prime Minister, The Menteri Besar or the Chief Minister respectively, a constitutional crisis is said to arise.

The confusion is always in the methodology and timing of consultation.

In our case there was no crisis as the Sultan agreed to sign another letter dated a month later, after consultation with representatives of other nations.

Whichever consultation method was used is unknown to me although I often wonder whether the representatives of other nations would have opposed the appointment, and if they had, whether the Sultan would have changed his mind.

I further wondered on the motive of the initial objection, as I later discovered that it did not originate from the Ambassadors. Whoever initiated it must have done it with the good intention of wanting to have everything done correctly or just being political.

If it is political he will still be unhappy with the Sultan’s second letter, even though it is constitutionally correct.


Today I am asked to officiate this Millennium Law Fiesta 2001 and the Economic Forum.

The question is, am I qualified to do the officiating. The answer is probably positive because I am the President.

But, what do I know about law and economics.

Very little.


In 1963 I attended an interview for an Electrical Engineering scholarship. I was one of the three short-listed for two Colombo Plan scholarships for studying in New Zealand or Australia, I cannot remember exactly which of the two countries.

I was one of two boys, both from Malay College, who attended the interview, in addition to a girl from another school, possibly Malay Girls College, now renamed Kolej Tunku Kursiah.

My friend and I are short, or not so tall; were not singers and neither were we sportsmen. As such we were not so popular with girls, we therefore reciprocate by not caring for them as well.

As there were only two scholarships for three interviewees, one of us had to lose our chance. As boys we of course prefer the girl to lose.

I was confident of winning the scholarship as I was known to be a talkative boy and I had the best results among the three of us. I was informed that the girl had the worst results. That was possible in those days. Nowadays, it is generally impossible for boys to perform better than girls.

My friend became more lucky when a Mercedes car arrived with an envelope. As my friend went out with her auntie I received the envelope on his behalf. It was addressed to the Chairman of the interviewing committee. The sender? The Education Minister.

I then remembered my friend saying that he was related to a minister. I was so happy for my friend and I imagined the flight together to study in a foreign land. When he confirmed of his relationship with the minister upon his return, we decided to celebrate our impending success at the nearby A & W Restaurant which was just opened.

In the morning of the interviewing day the girl went first into the interviewing room. My friend and I looked at her with pity – it is a wasteful effort as we have already secured the two scholarships.

However, not knowing what was coming, she came out smiling , and I was somehow elated when she chose to sit beside me instead of my friend. My friend was soon called into the room for the interview. I wished him well for I believed, when looking at the girl that he would have got the scholarship, anyway, even without the ministerial uncle.

I looked at her and asked for tips on the question asked.

‘ What is atomic heat ‘, she said.

‘ Atomic heat is atomic weight times specific heat; what else?’

‘ What is Newton’s Law of Motion?’

‘ A body remains at rest or move in uniform motion in a straight line unless impressed forces is applied upon it; what else?’

She moved away to the rest-room and upon her return she sat opposite me, an obvious attempt not to be of further help in case her coaching will eliminate her from one of the two scholarships offered.

I then asked the girl as to why she had not gone home. She said, ‘ I am waiting for my uncle.’

‘ Who is he?’

‘ He chairs the interview.’

That to me was my first exposure to nepotism and cronyism.

However, on looking back, I was actually lucky not to get the scholarship.


It was at Ipoh Golf Club that I served as Caddie for Mr Mc Gregor of the Chartered Bank, Ipoh. I had to be a caddie plus tennis ball-picker to earn my pocket money as my father died before I went to MCKK for Form 1 entry. I was not suffering as I enjoyed the work.

Mc Gregor asked, ‘ What are you doing here when you should be in school?’ I was caddying on a Friday morning when the everybody was in school.

‘ I am fed-up of schooling, the Government is giving their scholarships to nephews and nieces, when my dead father was just an educated taxi driver, with an unrecognised Indonesian degree in Islamic Studies.’

‘ What are you looking for?’

‘ Golf balls. ‘

‘ No, I mean what do you want to be when you grow up.?

‘ Anything, so long as I do not work for the government.’

‘ Can you be more specific? ‘

‘ I want to be a doctor, an engineer or an accountant .‘

In other words I wanted to be a professional.

‘ What about being a lawyer?’, Mc Gregor asked.

‘ No. My family would not allow that, as the law is not Islamic.’

‘ What about being a banker?’

‘ What is a banker?’

‘ Let me see, yes, a banker is a person who studies accountancy, but not enough to be an accountant; who studies economics but not enough to be an economist and studies law but not enough to be a lawyer. That is a banker.’

‘ O. K. I want to be a banker.’

Now you know whether I am qualified to speak in this legal and economic forum. I know a bit of both.


I never knew that knowing a bit of many things is actually a preparation to being a leader.


Whether in the political, economic or social arenas a leader is only accepted as one if he can communicate. Except for leadership in Professional Organisations, or organisations with limited or specific functions, like the NGOs, where your knowledge can be limited to the need of the profession or the functional organisation, to be accepted as a leader of the masses one has to communicate on many subjects, as the masses come from all walks of life.

Your education in this university is therefore not only a preparation for a profession of your choice but also as the beginning of your life-long search for knowledge in as many fields as possible.

You must accumulate more knowledge and experience through your reading or by inculcating the iqra’ culture in you.


The image of this university is dependent on the performance of its students in the real world. Looking at the country now we worry about the future. But, with all the problems that the country faces in politics, economics and the social arenas, there is no shortage of opportunities for all of you.

Let us hope that with the knowledge that you already have, and the knowledge that you will continuously acquire, you can play a role in solving the problems of the ummah.

For a leader should not be defined as one who has followers, for such a definition will lump us with the head of sinners, thieves and robbers for they, too, have followers.

A leader should therefore be defined as a problem solver.


If knowledge in many fields is a prerequisite to becoming a leader or a problem-solver, does it mean that a knowledgeable person will automatically become a leader?

Not necessarily, as what you call a knowledgeable person may have all the knowledge which is irrelevant to the need of the problems of the time.

Even if a person have all the relevant knowledge he still needs the ability to make the knowledge be understood by the unschooled mind.

Howard Gardner in his book ‘ Leading Minds ‘ maintained that a sophisticated idea can be defeated by a simple idea which is understood by the unschooled mind.

We are therefore faced with the problem of having brilliant ideas which we cannot communicate to the point of being accepted by the unschooled minds, which in turn are being influenced by communication experts who are able to feed these unschooled minds with wrong ideas.

You should therefore accumulate knowledge and learn to communicate them to the masses.


It is unfortunate that some of you will soon be leaving this university before you see the full implementation of our




Time is too short for opening ceremonies, but I hope with what I have later said, you will be able to understand better what is said earlier.

With this I declare the seminars opened.
Wabilla hi taufik wassala mu alaikum.

Thank you.

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