Sunday, January 20, 2019



I am the fortunate few who had a chance to spend my university life at KOLEJ KEDIAMAN ZAABA the 7TH residential college, Universiti Malaya during the mid-eighties.

We were lucky to have a very outstanding (and I am not overstating here, many of us from the same era will vouch for this) college Master in Prof Dr Omar Farouk who created an environment for performance where young Malaysians could grow, test out our leadership talents and potentials and be at our best. A place where we could transit into good citizens.

At the university level we had the wonderful and very capable Timbalan Naib Chanselor the late Prof Madya Mohd Yunus Mohd. Noor and our very respectable and awesome Vice-Chanselor Royal Prof Ungku Abdul Aziz who not only were willing to defend our college Master’s approach, but went all out to support him.

With these solid support from the university, Dr Omar could provide us with an open environment where diversity and inclusion thrived. Respect for others is the norm. We were encouraged to always work our way to the top, do the best and be the best! Work hard, play hard! Excel in whatever we do!

We were able to run and manage not only national level projects but also international level ones. We were perhaps the most active college not only in the country but likely the world. Our projects were recognized internationally and was even honored in newspaper editorials.

Yet, we were labelled by the group of people who felt that we were too western, too ‘duniawi’. We were told that we are not Islamic enough. Prof Ungku Aziz, Prof Madya Yunus and Dr Omar’s names were ridiculed during Friday prayers. Big groups of people came to ‘tunjuk perasaan’ and ‘bantah’.
Why? Simply because we want to have our ‘dinner and dance’ at hotels. It is not relevant to them that the dinner and dance is to celebrate, reward and award those who have worked hard and did the college proud in projects, sports, social activities, etc.

To them dancing is bad, hotels are ‘haram’ and mixing people of different gender, religious backgrounds and race should be avoided. And, they see it as their right to impose their thoughts on others too.

How far are they willing to go?

Our Master and college members were pelted with rotten eggs. They spoke rudely to a kind and well-mannered elder, Dr Omar, who was ever willing to discuss and listen to their views and agree to disagree. When my team and I were managing a project bringing Kelantanese arts and culture, lives were threatened and we had to deal with bomb hoaxes – simply because they felt that Kelantanese culture is against their religious beliefs.

That was when we were in the eighties. Have we got any better today? Unfortunately, not. Today the problem has gone national. A video clip showing the Chief Justice and Attorney General dancing to the tune of “Lets Twist Again” with the law Minister and members of the Bar is able to send a large segment of our society into conniption. We need to stop, think, reflect and choose where we want this nation to head to. In fact, at certain levels it is not an overstatement to say that we are becoming a society with a sick mentality: where a dance party is now seen and promoted as though it is a sex orgy!

We need to engage with these group of people especially the leaders and influencers and help them pay attention to what is crucial.

Let me use the Zaaba experience to unpack this.

The dance parties represent an extremely small amount of time, energy and focus to those who were at KOLEJ ZAABA. The rest of the time it was hard work, delivering performance, adding value and doing good. But if one pays attention to only that few hours of dancing instead of a whole year of work, that is being myopic, petty and senseless. Ditto the Opening of the Legal Year 2019 dinner.

Inability to pay attention to what is crucial and core is a huge social and human problem that leads to bad results. The militant Muslims for example pay attention to fighting while in reality in his 23 years of his Prophethood, actual fighting was not more than 3 days. That should give an indication about the Quran’s and the Prophet’s position on fighting. Yet, fighting defines the lives of the ‘jihadist’.

We need to choose what we are paying attention to.
If you still do not get it, amongst the products of KOLEJ ZAABA are the current KSN, KSU of Foreign Ministry, The EC Chairman, top surgeons at IJN and countless more.
So please do not focus on the dancing. Pay attention to the hard work and results.

To Royal Prof. Ungku Aziz, Allahyarham Prof. Madya Mohd Yunus and Prof.Dr Omar Farouk, thank you for the opportunity. Thank you for paying attention to what is crucial and gave us the environment to be good Malaysian citizens.

May all of us guide ourselves with love, logic and wisdom. Love, because love makes us fair with our hearts; Logic, because logic makes us fair with our minds; and Wisdom, because wisdom leads us to combine our love and logic in the way of God and for the benefit of Mankind.

Anas Zubedy
Kuala Lumpur

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