Assalaamu'alaikum Warahmatullaahi Wabarakaatuh
This article, which appeared in SRC (Students' Repesentative Council) Newsflash, International Islamic University Malaysia edition for September, 2000, is reproduced as I feel that Tan Sri Sanusi's view is very much relevant with the current scenario of the students involvement in politics.
Fahmi M. Nasir
Researcher at Toeti Juairiah Library
INTERVIEW WITH TAN SRI DATO’ SERI SANUSI JUNID
SRC Newsflash is privileged to have the opportunity to interview the President of International Islamic University Malaysia (IIMU) Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Sanusi Junid on his views about various matters regarding the current situation at IIUM. While still being busy with his daily schedule, Dato’ Seri Sanusi has managed to spend sometime communicating his ideas with us. – Editor
A) As the new President of IIUM, how do you view the university’s current atmosphere – does it need any readjustment in its philosophy and practice?
WHAT MAKES A GREAT UNIVERSITY
1. This University has a very well thought out philosophy which needs no change. It has also got a clear vision and a farsighted mission. However, it is not the philosophy, vision and mission by themselves, which makes any university a great institution of higher learning, but the ability of the teaching staff to disseminate knowledge and the performance of its students after graduation.
B) Do you feel that the administrative staffs are transparent and cooperative in ensuring the successful implementation of the university’s policy?
LEADERSHIP, NOT JUST TRANSPARENCY
2. I have never measured people by the degree of transparency. I measure them against trustworthiness, courage to do new things and to discover new knowledge, discipline, hard work and loyalty. I have not met will all members of the staff of the university. Those I have met are certainly very promising and cooperative. No one should expect total transparency of any man. It is important to believe that Allah S.W.T sees through you whether you are transparent or not. There is an English saying which claims that “If you know what your neighbour thinks of you, you will never want to live another day”. While we strive for knowledge there appears to be virtue in ignorance. Successful implementation of the University’s objective depends on leadership more than transparency.
C) IIUM students have been labelled as anti-government and ‘reformasi’ supporters, what is your opinion?
THE RIGHT TO UNHAPPINESS
3. Nobody, not even opposition party members in Malaysia, can be anti-government in totality. Students have no reason to be totally anti-government, but students have the right to be unhappy over any decision, issue or matter which they do not know, cannot understand or requires explanation, or even over subjects which they think are wrongly handled based on what they know, or they think they know.
4. The government has also their right to be unhappy with students who do not perform well in their exams. A non performing student is a waste of public funds. The government is of the opinion that upon qualifying for entry into a university, a student has the capacity to succeed. A student has only himself of herself to blame should he or she performs otherwise.
DO NOT REFORM GOODNESS
5. “Reformasi” is a good word so long as it does not signify the need to reform or change even the good that we already have. As good Muslims we should continuously wish to reform our way of life in order to become better Muslims; but the west also want to reform us by giving up some of our Islamic values or practices. We should not be pro reform.
6. What you are probably referring to in the context of your question, is not student support for “reformasi”, in the true sense of the world, but student protests against court decisions. This is a different matter altogether.
MOTHERLY AND FATHERLY LOVE
7. It is natural, and motherly, for a person to sympathise with a friend he likes, or a hero he worship, whether the friend or hero is right or wrong. A fatherly love will fade when the son is obstinate and does the wrong things, or goes against his father’s good advice.
8. Most people love their heroes of friends in motherly ways.
A MILLION UMNO MEMBERS DID NOT DEMONSTRATE
WHEN THE COURT DECLARED UMNO ILLEGAL
9. Talking of court decision, I was the Secretary General of UMNO when UMNO was declared illegal by a respectable judge. I had a heart attack upon hearing the judge’s decision. I resigned from being the Secretary General although the faults or irregularities were not caused by me, but by some state UMNO leaders who were reluctant to accept my advise to direct UMNO divisions to hold new General Meetings, without the attendance of unregistered branches. That was before the fatal UMNO General Assembly.
10. Nevertheless, after the court decision, I was in distress and I suffered much. But I did not hate the judge. I did not assume the position of the judge myself and pass judgement on him or condemn the judiciary. All UMNO members were angry with him on his decision. I could have mobilized a big portion of the one million over UMNO members, against the judge, and the judiciary. But I did not do this. The judge and I knew where the faults lie although we did not communicate with one another. If I had mobilized the UMNO members against the judge or the judiciary that would not prove that UMNO was right. I respect the judiciary.
D) How can IIUM effectively handle in international issues like the survival of Muslims in Acheh and Ambon?
11. IIUM has no means to effectively handle international issues such as the survival of Muslims in Acheh and Ambon or anywhere else. IIUM itself is not self sufficient and depends on the government for its survival. All international issues facing Muslim nations, whether effectively handled or not, are attended by graduates or knowledgeable officials. I do not believe undergraduates can do better than graduates in such matter.
12. The Academic staff of the University, with their greater amount of knowledge that they have specific fields, can of course provide ideas for solving problems, by making recommendations to the government which has the organization for implementation.
PREPARE YOURSELF FOR LEADERSHIP
13. International issues are settled either by diplomacy or by war leading to bloodshed. Muslim will lose in any war because of our backwardness in the field of technology; in diplomacy we have shown our shrewdness in recent years.
14. This does not mean that we do not have Muslim scientists and technical experts. There are many of them in the world. If they are very qualified they will probably have to work in developed countries as their own countries do not have the institutions or establishments to employ them, and use their knowledge. Student activities in support of effort to settle issues faced by Muslim, in Muslim countries, should be aimed at inculcating awareness and concern, in students, in preparation for them to be better citizens and leaders, in their own respective country after graduation.
E) How do you think the students could actively involved in the decision making process in our country, in line with the principle of democracy?
DEMOCRACY IS NOT A RELIGION
15. Students must remember that democracy is not a religion. It is a method. In democracy the majority is always right. If a group of thieves voted on the best way to rob, the decision of the majority is democratic, but wrong. In Islam right and wrong stand on their own, determined by the Quran and the Sunnah, without depending on democracy or on popularity.
16. Therefore, involvement of students in the decision making process of any country should not just hang on democracy. It should be with the intention of improving the livelihood of the people, material and moral, and also towards correcting prevailing mistakes as seen by any individual or a group.
BESIDES GOD, ONLY CHANGE IS PERMANENT
17. Since we are living in the 3rd millennium the methods of problem-solving of the 2nd and 1st millennium should continuously be improvised. As, besides Allah S.W.T., the only permanent thing in existence is change.
18. Living in an information-age it might be necessary to have discussions, seminars, conferences and conventions to disseminate good or different ideas, for future action.
19. Muslim must do more research and write more books. We must pursue and uphold the “iqra” culture.
20. Students should also proactive and study all the policies of all government in the Muslim World with a view to submitting proposals for amendments by respective governments when those policies come up for revision.
21. In this way students can contribute in the process of decision making in all Muslim countries. They must, however, first pass their examinations.
22. During my student days, I have seen many friends who were busy trying to improve their country, but having failed or not done well in their studies, they are of little help to their country now.
F) Should students be involved in politics?
23. Since Islam is being made a divisive factor among Muslims, I would like to dwell for a while on this subject.
BEING KNOWLEDGEABLE OR PARTISAN
24. At this juncture, I would like to differentiate between interest in politics, knowledge of politics, and being a practicing partisan politician. My involvements in politics have followed that order. Students should be interested in politics and acquire knowledge of politics. Study the theory and practice of politics.
25. From Aristotle we learn that “it is impossible to have political power without economic power”. In practice the Malays have proven this theory wrong, because the Malays did have, and do continue to have, political power without economic power.
26. That can be one of the differences between theory and practice. Unity was and is the Malay political asset. Being an active partisan of politician is a totally different thing altogether.
27. Politics is about power. If one is being partisan, one wishes one’s party to take over power from the rival party. The act of doing this is the same all over the world and throughout the history of partisan parliamentary democracy.
ISSUES OR INDIVIDUALS
28. In the West political parties focus on issue to win over the voters; in developing countries they develop party fanatics. The creation of party loyalists or party fanatics can only succeed if the potential loyalists and fanatics are blocked from any information or knowledge of the goodness of the rival parties. If any goodness of a rival party surfaces it will be distorted by interpretation.
29. In our country, political parties should offer alternative programmes for the benefit of the people.
MORAL & NATIONAL
30. As students, you can be subjected to all sorts of orientation by partisan activists. If this happens you cease being students, as you are mentally partisan, and lose the ability to acquire more knowledge and to equip yourself fully in order to enable you to play a role for the unity of the Ummah within a country. According to Prof. Ramsden of London University, who is a historian and has been rewriting the history of the Conservative Party for the last 30 years, in a partisan parliamentary democracy, there is no such thing as “moral interest” or “national interest”. An immoral character can win if there are enough party fanatics backing him.
31. Partisan Parliamentary democracy is not indigenous to Islam, just as football is not of Islamic religion. On the football field a team, as in a political party, plays to win. Whatever the name of the football team, and however it is uniformed, they play the same football game, with the same rules and the motive of scoring goals.
32. The Kedah football team was named “Kenari” after the name of a bird, but the team does not fly anymore although the name remain; just as a rugby team, named “The Tigers”, does not roar.
33. For political power, two or more political parties can never be totally united in a partisan parliamentary democracy.
34. Each political party wants to annihilate the others.
UNITY FOR A HIGHER PURPOSE
35. For unity one needs a higher purpose or reason.
36. The Muslims of Malaysia has good reasons for unity in 1946 and 1969.
37. The question is whether that higher purpose or reason can be sustained by partisan politicians in a partisan parliamentary democracy.
G) Lastly, what is your wish for all the campus citizen in conjunction with the newly celebrated Malaysian National Day on the 31st August 2000?
WHAT IS TO BE DONE
38. a) Intensify your effort at disseminating and seeking knowledge;
38. b) Establish friendships across national borders;
38. c) As Islam is being made a divisive factor in local politics among Muslim worldwide, Muslim should focus on global problems and challenges where the real enemy of Islam can be recognized;
38. d) Spend your time reading the past and recent history of Muslim Conflicts in the World.