Tuesday, 30 November 2010


I am a city lad. I grew up in Petaling Jaya and now live in Kuala Lumpur. I've never lived in a kampung and I've never known how it's like really to be poor. Yet I often lose sleep whenever I see and read about the struggles of others. Why?

I met a few associates at a mamak joint a few weeks back. I expressed my bewilderment on what goes through the minds of politicians. Do they not lose sleep thinking about the poor? When they walk around and meet people, do they not realise how difficult life is for many others?

“You are assuming they have a conscience”, said the eldest among us. Apparently they don't. All politicians by nature are self-serving and think always about themselves before others. “People first, performance now”, what exactly those words mean I would never know I guess.

A friend once described to me how astonished he was when he met a person who lives in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur who earns only 350 ringgit per month. He was so astonished that he thought the person was only joking. That was until the man showed him his most recent payslip.

If you can't trust politicians, whom should you trust to make life better for yourself and others? Academicians? Some academicians are so enchanted by theories and models they don't even know what's happening in the real world.

I am an academician myself (or at least that's what I'm supposed to be), but I often get utterly disillusioned reading ‘scientific’ academic papers. I've never been impressed with numbers, and have never been really interested in conceptual models and theoretical framework. I do concede theorising is necessary but there must be a limit to how much one should pursue it.

Why exactly do we encourage people to pursue postgraduate studies? Often this is due to opportunities to earn a higher pay and to improve the prospect for promotion. But what exactly about postgraduate qualification that elevates a person's career prospects higher than others?

Obviously it's the level of expertise the person developed for the topic he worked on for his postgraduate research. Other than that, and more importantly in my humble opinion, is the supposed sophistication of thinking and ideas. Not to say that they should be embroiled always with ground-breaking ideas but enough to know that conclusions and understanding of any issues and problems are never that simple.

A cabinet minister with a PhD recently made a statement in parliament that the Chinese and Indians in Malaysia are not patriotic enough. That is why, according to him, they refuse to join the military. That statement, was it based on any scientific findings or merely an assumption? If the minister really does have a PhD, I'm sure he could have come up with a more analytical statement.

“The more you know, the more you know you don't know”. Maybe I have taken this advice far too seriously that the more I read the more I am confused and disillusioned with everything and anything. I wish life can be more simple or maybe it's just me who is making it difficult.

Related article: 'am I an academic?'


Anonymous said...

Dear Zaki,

As a friend I have to say I'm a bit disturbed by some of the things you'd written here. I'm not questioning your opinion but what I'm concerned about is your negative attitude towards everything including your SELF! You should know that you were an inspiration to many of your students. I'm sure if any one of them reads this they would worry about what you are coming into. It's fine to be critical but don't be too negative about everything. I pray that ALLAH will give you the strength to recover your abilities. Barakallahu fi.

Zaki Samsudin said...

Dear Anon. 5/12,

JazakAllahu khayr! Thank for your kind words and advice.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anom 7:38,
I surmise you're a colleague of Zaki within IIU and I think it's improper to come here on his blog and did what you just did. You can meet him in person and talk to him of your disapproval of his writings.
He has the right to voice out his opinion and make it known his identity by doing it.It shows he has the balls to state his stand and stand by it rather than threw a stone at someone and 'HIDING' your hand.

bubu said...

Salam w.b.t.

I would beg to disagree to the opinion that the author is negative towards things. I guess it's a matter of perception, as the way I see it, it is just questioning things (or as mentioned, being critical). Why would it be viewed as something that is negative? The choice is ours, the readers, to view it as negative or otherwise.

Confusion, I believe, is a bliss. And as Confucius said, "Confusion is the beginning of every learning."

Occasionally, it is okay to be vulnerable once in a while. That just simply shows that the author is prompting people to give feedback. In which, humility will be shown.

And this is the very inspiration that I get from the author. It is not "you were an inspiration to many of your students," I still believe it should be: "you were and still are an inspiration to many of your students."

Aside from this, there are also things that I would disagree in the author's recent post. Let it be as a thing to be discussed. I would prefer discussing about the argument, than discussing about the author :)

May Allah bless us all. Ameen~