Friday, May 14, 2010

Doing It the Unconventional Way

Saudara Aslam Abdul Jalil (second from left), former captain of the Malay debating team from Class of 2007 today is awarded a scholarship from JPA to read economics at Australian National University in Canberra.

It's not the scholarship itself that is worth posting an entry here, it's the unconventional way he went about his path after MCKK.

Aslam did less well relative to his peers in SPM that he did not get a scholarship offer after SPM. Most other people would have taken the next logical step of going to local public universities, of which he did receive a lot of offers.

One week after SPM, some of them congregated at my place to decide on their options post SPM. The majority chose the logical options.

He told me that he wanted to have another go at overseas scholarship and going to matriculation means that option is limited (or as good as closed to him). So he wanted to do STPM in his hometown in Cameron Highlands and wanted to know what I thought about it.

I was actually thinking along the same line and since he was quite focused about what he wanted in his life, we supported him all along.

Of course it was not easy.

Back in MCKK, a decision to pursue STPM always receives not-so-warm response from most of the teachers; some of them would even deride it. Of late, each year after SPM results are announced, some quarters would make examples of this and that student who was bad in school and ended up ONLY doing STPM (hence the padan muka anecdote at the end).

For a well known student like him, I am sure it was difficult to face all this - with most of the world looking down at you and considered you as a failure.

He also had to get used to going to day school - that means walking to school, wearing school uniform with un-MCKK colours (like purple blazers etc.), put up with an environment so alien and suddenly found himself surrounded by non-Malays as not many Malays pursue STPM.

But that's where my selfish motive was - I think it was important for him to prove to himself and us that Malays too can do well in STPM and it's a route that parents should be more open about. The journey and adjustments with the day school routine and encounters with non-Malay students would have built his character even more and added flexibility to his world view.

He didn't get the STPM results he wanted (straight As) but it was enough to get offers from a few of Australian top universities.

With the offer, he went on to apply for JPA scholarships and alhamdulillah, today the result is out for him.

I guess he would miss another 6 months before the term opens for enrollment in Australia, but that is nothing compared to achieving a goal you set for yourself despite all the odds.

Sometimes we have to be open to unconventional ways to go where we want to go.

What Aslam did is what any other MCKK students should always strive to do - have the courage to do what you think is right, no matter what other people say about it :-)


  1. Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" crossed my TGIF-mind reading this post - a heartwarming one.

    My best wishes to Adik Aslam. Albert Einstein says, "Try not to be a man of success but rather try to be a man of values". Yes, success can be cheap but to be a man of values, that's priceless.


  2. Anonymous12:28 PM

    so,to those educators back at koleq who always condemning all those form 6 students,take a heed from this la ya?don't just simply label people as unsuccessful just coz they din go the ways that you thought as 'successful'

  3. heh aku dulu register for form 6 what.. but yeah, the perception is that kalau buat form 6 ni, you're not good enough ..

  4. bcp unlmtd7:01 PM

    kau memang lain bro..

  5. kepala tujuh puluhan12:22 AM

    mungkin e67 ada plan nak join arqam, sbb tu dia nak masuk f6.....mungkin....tak gitu bcp unlmtd?

    on a serious note, tabing spring kat Mr Aslam. Against the odds. And succeed.I loike!

  6. Tahniah Aslam

  7. epit, aslam lain lah

  8. Anonymous1:21 PM

    Cik Noni

    Request permisi to cross post in mcoba website?
    Thanks, Amir

  9. Bro Amir

    By all means :-)

  10. don't understand the racial connotations to this post. do you mean that aslam did spm just to prove that his race could perform, instead of an individual desire to do well?

    do we still have to divide according to race now?

  11. all the best to aslam

  12. Joyce,

    You are extrapolating too much. There is no racial connotations - it is a shift in the mindset of the younger malays that slowly debunks many racial divides before.

    One such racial divide was that STPM is for Malay failures and it's too difficult. The other side of the coin is the non-Malays' perception that Malays who go on to do matriculation etc are not good because they do not attempt the more difficult STPM.

    Look at it positively.

    When more and more younger Malays choose to compete head on and have more courage to go into territories alien to them - that's when slowly you can break the racial divide.

    Breaking that racial divide means a lot of us must begin to view things more positively when it has positive effect on race relations in this country - not to unnecessarily jump all the time ;-)

  13. I know Aslam. He is a wonderful person.

    I wonder how those in MCKK feel that many non - Malays who do very well in exams - straight As(SPM, STPM), are not offered scholarships to overseas.

    Is this fair?