Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.
Beta bersyukur ke hadrat ILAHI kerana dengan izin dari Nya juga Beta dan Raja Puan Besar dapat berangkat ke majlis Hari Anugerah Kolej Yayasan UEM pada pagi ini.
- It gives me great pleasure to be at this impressive campus this morning to celebrate this awards day ceremony with all of you. Kolej Yayasan UEM, in the short space of its existence, has established itself as a premier pre-university college in Malaysia. Present in this room today are a gathering of very promising young Malaysians, most of whom are deserving scholars, and all of whom are high academic achievers representing the cream of the crop of their generation.
- I believe the only legitimate currency for a school is the quality of its graduates. In this respect, this college has performed exceptionally well. Five years ago, I was here to award Oxbridge scarves to five students who were successful in securing places at Oxford and Cambridge. Since then, I have come to learn that KY-UEM has consistently produced outstanding examination results and has sent more than 60 students to these two universities, and hundreds more to other top universities. Cambridge Brilliance Awards have been awarded to numerous students for their top-in-the-world and top-in-Malaysia A-level results. Consistently, more than one third of students each year score straight ‘A’s or achieve at least three ‘A’s in their A-level examinations. I am sure the results for 2009 will be equally worthy of much pride and praise.
- You have spent much time and effort to secure your good grades, to ensure you are admitted into the best universities, so that you can obtain prestigious degrees and land the most lucrative jobs. Your academic performance will undoubtedly help you in these regards, but it is incomplete if other important facets of education are not developed. Academic performance is by no means a guaranteed promise of success in life’s journey. It is merely a head start which you are very privileged to possess. In a few years, when you are before your employer, your grades and your degree, in isolation, will probably not be the determining factor in your appointment. Certainly, they will not determine the rate of your elevation up the career ladder.
- What matters more are the qualities of character and leadership. You are the future leaders of this nation – future leaders in government, in business, in the professions, whichever field that you may choose. One day, you will decide on the next phase of Malaysia’s development and be responsible for the well-being of all Malaysians. This is indeed a huge responsibility.
- We live in a time of many challenges. We also live in a time of rapid change – change that is not always predictable and not always favourable. For success in the modern world, the young generation must be sufficiently equipped to confront challenges and react to changes in the best manner possible. The education system must therefore be enabling, outward- and forward-looking. On the part of educationists, they must ask the question: what is it that the future generation needs to be equipped with? In this regard, let me propose three elements.
- The first is civility and morality. A week ago, my father, Duli Yang Maha Mulia Paduka Seri Sultan Azlan Shah, in an address to the Majlis Wacana Ilmu in Perak, revisited the Rukun Negara – our national philosophy. We know it and recite it. But how many actually internalise the principles that we proclaim? The fifth principle of the Rukun Negara is Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan – Civility and Morality. Fifty years ago, when life was far simpler, values of civility and morality were an essential part of this nation’s culture, strongly emphasised in the education system. Today, while our stock of knowledge has grown and continues to grow unabated, these values have been sidelined and made subservient to other notions driven mainly by materialism. Civility and morality, however, define who we are. They govern our relationships. They entail the exercise of discipline for the sake of living as a community. They give modern society much-needed stability.
- In situations of crisis or difficulty, civility ensures respect for fellow citizens, where reasoning and constructive engagement is the chosen path over violent and rebellious behaviour – behaviour that can rip society apart. But civility must go hand-in-hand with morality. It is not just about polite social behaviour but involves being morally accountable to society for one’s actions.
- Morality must be the cornerstone of how we conduct ourselves in our personal lives, our families, communities and workplaces. When it is undermined, all these social institutions quickly collapse. Consider what happens when children act immorally towards their parents, or governments towards their citizens. What happens when employers exploit and ill-treat their workers, or seek to enrich themselves at the expense of society? Looking at the state of the global financial sector of late, it is evident that regardless of how advanced and sophisticated the banking systems, in the end what is most important is the integrity of those who control the systems. No system will work if the people who manage it seek opportunities to exploit and abuse.
- The second element of education that I want to emphasise is the appreciation for diversity in society. The nature of modern society is that it is essentially multicultural, and becoming more and more so. As the world continues to shrink, individuals must be able to live, work and thrive in a global setting. They must become accustomed to pluralism. They must value it. This entails knowing languages, histories, norms and cultures other than one’s own, and being respectful of and receptive to different ideas and views.
- The third element is critical thinking and good judgement. I believe that how much students know is less important than their ability to explore what they do not know in order to uncover a solution. The world has no shortage of knowledge but it could always do with more understanding. Critical thinking, coupled with good judgment, will afford the young generation the ability to look objectively at challenges at hand and make sound decisions, even if it means stepping out of comfort zones into unfamiliar territory.
- To the students gathered here, in approximately three to five years, when you graduate, the global economy, in all likelihood, will have recovered, God willing. But in the course of your adult life, as far as I pray that you will never witness horrific calamities, you are bound to be faced with some forms of crises. Dealing with daunting situations gives us the opportunity to better ourselves, to broaden our horizons, to take charge, lead and motivate others towards producing positive outcomes. It is my fervent hope that with civility and morality, critical thinking and good judgement, on top of your high level of intelligence, you will all emerge from each crisis stronger and wiser. As the future leaders of this nation, I challenge all of you to envision it now, embrace the idea and strive in the coming years to deliver upon it.
- The motto of this college is “To Educate, Not Simply Teach”, which I find most fitting. The variety of sporting and other extra-curricular activities offered gives students the opportunity to exercise their talents outside the classroom, while inculcating leadership skills and promoting character development. I am also happy to note the level of diversity in the student body and faculty. This kind of environment is most conducive in ensuring students are well-prepared to face the realities of a globalised world. I am confident that KY-UEM will continue to produce very well-rounded individuals in the years to come.
- My heartiest congratulations to all students, members of faculty, administration and corporate sponsors of Kolej Yayasan UEM.
Wabillahi taufik walhidayah
Wassalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.