Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A place of former glory still shimmers

Today I was shocked when I came across the news of plans to relocate the Universiti Malaya (UM) campus from its current historical location in Lembah Pantai, KL, to a new development in Sepang, Selangor.

Is there nothing this government will not do to fill the coffers of a select few? Even if their motives are sincere, I shudder to realise that such blatant stupidity exists in the leadership.

This reader response probably best expresses how many people feel about this decision:

UM land more important than money
Dr Hsu Dar Ren, Malaysikini, 21 June 2007

I refer to the malaysiakini report Shock over township plan for UM campus. According to the report, a prominent developer has made a bid for the Universiti Malaya's campus ground. The university authority has denied it and expressed shock over the report. I suspect even they may not even be privy to the proposal.

The piece of campus land situated in Lembah Pantai is indeed very valuable, and I tend to believe that there may have been a proposal to shift the university and develop the land, bearing in mind that there is no smoke without fire.

I am not a Universiti Malaya graduate but that is not important because I believe that it is the duty of every single Malaysian to defend the heritage of the country, and one such legacy is the Universiti Malaya campus. Businessmen, politicians, civil
servants and indeed everyone of us must understand that there is something more valuable than just money. A heritage ground is one of these priceless inheritances.

No amount of money can be equated with a heritage ground. Money earned can easily be spent, but a heritage will remain forever as a symbol of a nation and it is what nationhood is about. Imagine a proposal to shift the Buckingham Palace in London. Even though it is situated within the one-square-mile golden city centre, the British will defend this building till the end of their nationhood. Imagine a proposal to shift Harvard University from its present campus in Cambridge, US. I think the whole of America will be in an uproar because the American heritage and the pride of the nation will be challenged.

There is a Chinese saying meaning 'A gentleman loves money but you must earn it in the proper way'. Developers and businessmen, let me appeal to you - there is something more important in life than just making profit. Leave Universiti Malaya alone.

"...Money earned can easily be spent, but a heritage will remain forever as a symbol of a nation and it is what nationhood is about..."

When I read the news about this, immediately I thought of the many stories and reminisces shared by my dad, mum and all the aunties and uncles from their old uni and Fifth College days. Imagine a place where courtships had started and lifelong friendships were forged, great ideas were cultivated, and ideals and values were developed... all forgotten, desecrated and torn apart.

I remember when we were kids, during one of our family holidays in KL, my parents brought us around the UM campus and pointed out various spots and places as we walked through the grounds which still held significance for them.

"This was one of the lecture theatres most of our lectures were held in..."

"Right there, that's where dad and his engineering gang used to sit and holler at girls passing, shouting 'Wooomaaaaaan!!!!'"
(a sign of the sad plight of engineers due to the dire lack of females in their faculty)

"This is the Fifth College student residential I stayed at.... my room is somewhere up in that corner..."

I don't know about my brothers, but I was definitely not bored that day, but was eager to be able to picture how my parents had lived, worked and played in their younger days. Somehow listening to them and seeing the actual places where daily events took place, made these memories of my parents so vivid in my mind. I remember remarking candidly to my parents, "I think it could be nice to think that if we were the same age then, studying here together, we might have been good friends hanging together here!"

Although many say that the 'glory days' of UM are long gone, the afterglow of its former glory still remains. And it saddens me to think that this landmark will be torn down as if it meant nothing to the legacy and history of this nation.

1 comment:

  1. I thought this proposed acquisition of MU land and relocation of Mu has been settled the last time it came up.
    Well, greed of men is never far and is ever ready to devour even a heritage of a nation.
    I wish this will never happen and I think the majority of MU alumni will not let it happen !


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