Thursday, August 6, 2009

Exam Fervor

With almost a week of SNHU exams completed, I have been pleasantly surprised to especially see my senior students staying focused on their exams in a way that I hadn’t detected before. This is not to say that previous cohorts are not at all interested in their studies – far from it; it’s just that this time around, there is this heavy haze of studious fervor blanketing these students, so much so that we need to take the sharpest cleaver to slice open the congealed air and release the trapped atoms of scholarly intensity. Seeing these students zoom in on their studies is very comforting because it tells me that they can be just as disciplined if they want to. You know the saying, Work hard, play hard? Well, SNHU students are well-equipped to do both.

My last words on last Saturday’s anti-ISA rally – well, in truth, they are not mine, but someone else’s! Marina Mahathir (daughter of ex-PM Mahathir Mohamad), who has her own column “Musings” in The Star (August 05, 2009, p N43) wrote this: “There are those who complained about the inconvenience of such demos because mostly it prevented them from driving into town to go shopping. Perhaps the complaints are wrongly directed at the demonstrators. Rather it should be directed at the police who put up road barriers and blocks a full day before the planned demos and caused traffic jams long before a single protestor put a foot down on a street.

Would it not have been better to simply issue warnings that since a demo is expected, people intending to go into the city should just take public transport?

Oh, but the demo is illegal! Being illegal doesn’t exactly stop it from happening, not when people don’t believe it should be illegal.

So if you know something is going to happen anyway, all you can do is ensure that it happens in an orderly manner with the least inconvenience as possible”.

Now this is what I would call a very sensible commentary to this whole issue of 'illegal' rallies that the government and their state apparatus claimed to be organized by opposition politicians who are hell-bent on spawning pure anarchy on peaceful Malaysian streets – of course, we shall conveniently ignore the fact that our streets are no longer peaceful; street crime already showing their ugly presence. And so her concluding remarks revealed a certain unconcealed candor: “What did the tear gas achieve? It lost at least 20,000 votes for the government, even more if you count those not participating but concerned anyway. It lost the votes of those who inadvertently got caught in the mess. But here’s the thing. While the middle of the city was all eye-stinging chaos, the rest of the city functioned as normal. People went out lunching and shopping as they would any Saturday, all the while keeping tabs of what was happening on their mobiles.

The city did not shut down; nobody felt any fear of the consequences of such demos. At the same time, they were not oblivious to what the demo was all about, which is a sign of the maturity of our people. While the doomsayers are trying to paint demos as the end of all civilization, the public proved they are indeed civilized, more so than politicians anytime”. You are so correct, Marina!

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