HUSTINGS COVERAGE 2017: SA PRESIDENT

The 16th of March marked the end of the Hustings with four candidates gunning for the coveted SA President position, resulting in arguably the biggest turnout from the student body. The night entailed each candidate appearing on stage to introduce themselves and explain their platforms (as seen in their manifestos) as well as facing a unique grilling Q&A session, in an individual and panel format.

Tormalli Vigilia Francis.

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The Sri Lankan native, who is enrolled in her second year of Nutrition and happens to be the only female candidate running, began her speech by outlining some of the traits she believed she shared with a successful SA President. After introducing herself passionately, describing her motivations to to run for President, she outlined her vision for the upcoming year into three main points: Connect, Collaborate and Celebrate.

For Connect, Tormalli, or commonly known as Torm, intends to establish connections among the student body, clubs and societies and the SA Executive officers. By forming connections, collaborations are made between the SA and students. This will help to harness students’ potential and enable them to experience the best possible student life at UNMC. Finally, Celebrate involves celebrating UNMC students who are the heart and soul of the SA. She ended her speech by acknowledging that carrying out responsibilities is not an easy task.

Despite this, Tormalli stated that she is driven to serve the student body because she believes that influencing our university life is the key to improvement. Although her passion and enthusiasm were clearly seen, Torm did not elaborate on any of her points in her manifesto.

Question and Answer Session: Tormalli Vigil Francis.

After the candidate obtained her opportunity to garner potential voters, it was the floor’s turn to dissect what was presented to them. Since Torm did not delve into the details of her manifesto, she was asked to elaborate on her plans which appeared vague. Instead of elaborating her manifesto in detail and stating her procedures to implement them, the candidate mentioned that her main vision this year is to prioritise her team to ensure that they succeed in their top endeavors as this will further enhance their student life experience. Essentially, Torm aims to ensure the solidarity of her team which will then benefit the student body.

The next question was regarding Torm’s capability to accomplish all her promises as stated in her manifesto, considering she failed to do so as the Education Officer. In response, she stated that this time she came prepared with an achievable list of goals. She learnt her lesson by planning to harness energy into ideas that had actual potential to succeed, hence her primary focus was to utilize existing resources and building up a team to collectively flourish.

The last question was related to Torm’s vision of ensuring fluid teamwork within the SA Executives since this concern was already well established and the executives work well individually. The inquirer asked about Torm’s own personal input and value to these SA Execs.

She responded by stating that her membership in the executive team has made her realise the role of a President is to not just be the face of the SA but to also work well with his or her team members. Torm views this position as working with a well-collaborated team and leading them to strive for and achieve their very best.

Insaf Bakeer Markar

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This International Relations student began his campaign speech by immediately diving straight into his manifesto. Regarding student engagement, Insaf stated that the basic issue that every single candidate has struggled with each year is the issue of transparency, communication and publicity.

However, he quickly clarified that he didn’t mean to imply that there is no transparency within the SA. In fact, he stated that the SA has triumphed in achieving transparency, for instance, the previous year’s president managed to establish a yearly report on each executive which allowed students to be kept updated.

Insaf plans on focusing on the actions taken by the previous SA and also discover new possibilities to connect the bridge between SA Executives and the student body. One way he intends on attaining this goal is to look into the possibility of each executive having a unique facebook profile and probably setting up a monthly live video which allows them to share their experiences, update their current endeavors and have open question and answers sessions with the students of UNMC.

Another point that was highlighted, which was personally advocated by Insaf, was the possibility of assembling a gathering each week, month or twice a month for like-minded individuals to discuss mental health related issues and share their experiences and struggles as well as gain support to overcome them. Moving on to education, the Sri Lankan candidate aims to campaign for a better feedback and guidance system from tutors to ensure students receive the best of higher education.

Regarding the community and welfare, Insaf intends on introducing Charities Week, which involves willing and able clubs and societies to work together to aid in any charity. In addition, he is keen on creating a platform to publicize and promote the achievements of UNMC students and alumni in order to motivate and inspire other students to succeed in their academic and nonacademic activities.

Question and Answer Session: Insaf Bakeer Markar

The first question directed towards this candidate was regarding the feasibility of a club for mental health, particularly the likely possibility that some students may feel uncomfortable and unwilling to expose their mental health struggles, therefore they may desire to protect their privacy by consulting anonymously, rather than discussing them with strangers.

Instead of directly answering this potential issue, Insaf appeared to dodge the question and instead chose to focus on the term ‘club’. He stated that he called it a ‘space’ to discuss mental health and that this ‘space’ was not the same, but similar to a club.

The next question which was divided into two parts certainly gained a shocked yet eager reaction from the audience as it was considered a controversy throughout this election period. To be more precise, it was regarding Insaf’s manifesto and campaign video which can be argued as being strongly inspired by the President of the Student Union in the Nottingham UK Campus, Ismail Sadurdeen.

The inquirer questioned the candidate’s ability to take up the President’s position when it can be contested that he lacks original ideas, to which Insaf (who appeared nervous) responded with a saying “if you do an action that brings you happiness and contentment, you may continue doing it but if you do an action that brings you remorse and sadness, you should not continue doing it’.

He admitted that he felt the latter as well as acknowledged with absolute certainty that there was a lack of originality and creativity. Insaf perceived the situation as something that should not have happened in the first place, especially coming from a presidential candidate.

The second part of the question was concerning the adaptability and implementation of his policies in the UNMC environment, to which Insaf stated with absolute confidence that he would be successful in implementing every single promise in his manifesto.

Although some have argued the strong similarities, feel free to form your own opinion by comparing Ismail Sadurdeen‘s and Insaf Bakeer Markar‘s campaign videos.

The third question also received loud murmurs from the floor because the inquirer seemed to be in favour of Insaf’s campaign strategy as he supported the notion that as long as an idea that can be implemented is seen as beneficial to the student body, the origin of it does not seem to matter. After receiving some objection from the audience as it is generally not allowed to make statements during the question seesion, the inquirer asked about whether Insaf obtained consent from Ismail to use his concept, to which Insaf stated “Absolutely”.

Saajit Irfahn.

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The third candidate to appear on stage was an Engineering student who exuded a friendlier and candid demeanor as he intended to speak to the students as their equal, instead of a presidential candidate. Similar to Insaf, Saajit also started his speech by delving straight into his manifesto in which he covered three main aspects: transparency, the issue of parking and transport routes.

Regarding transparency, Saajit discovered that there is a lack of information about the SA, hence if elected, he would work closely with the Vice President to provide students with a simple infographic detailing the responsibilities of the SA and their current activities. Concerning parking, the only Malaysian candidate vying for this position stated that it is not practical nor possible to request for a new structure, thus a possible solution could be to implement a sticker system for on-campus students. By accepting the sticker, they acknowledge that double-parking may occur during peak hours.

Saajit remarked that he is open to suggestions and feedback and is currently consulting outsiders to try tackling this issue. Lastly, regarding the transport route, this candidate intended to organize a bus route for those keen on going to IOI City Mall. In fact, Saajit has already taken the initiative by setting up a bus testing as at 17/3/2017. This received a wild applause from the audience.

Question and Answer Session: Saajit Irfahn.

The first question was pertaining the importance and plans for UNMC or the SA to initiate, establish and maintain coordinate relationships with other local and foreign universities. In response, Saajit insisted that in order to maintain the global standard Nottingham prides itself on, it is essential to establish such relationships.

In order to accomplish this, he suggested that support needs to given to the clubs and societies so that they can increase participation from other universities. If elected, he intends to get in touch with the clubs and societies that have such ideas during the summer break.

Another question that was brought up was concerning the obstacles and plans to tackle the parking situation, including Saajit’s assurance in implementing a successful plan since there have been many failed attempts in trying to eradicate this problem. In terms of obstacles, the Malaysian believes that the UNMC management does not fully understand the scope of this issue and that some students living in Univillage choose to park on campus. With regards to the latter issue, Saajit claimed that he could meet with the management at Univillage to discuss the possibility of reducing the parking rate.

The third question was separated into two components, with the first questioning the implementation of the student disciplinary service and the standard procedure for complaints lodged by students. Saajit replied that an easily accessible link could be created on the SA website.

When the student sends in their complaint, the President and the Director of Services would then follow the appropriate measures to solve the issue. The second part involves the feasibility of increasing bus services to TBS, especially finding funds.

The candidate explained that increasing the bus routes to TBS will be more economical and time-saving for students who wish to explore other parts of Kuala Lumpur. In terms of the implementation process, Saajit suggested decreasing the number of times the buses travel to Kajang KTM, especially at unnecessary times such as early morning, thus increasing the travel time for the TBS routes.

Sheryar Nawaz Khan.

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Armed with a strong level of confidence, this next candidate took on the platform and started his speech by telling the audience his inspiring journey of overcoming a speech impediment. Then, he began highlighting several key elements from his manifesto.

If elected, he aims to structure a cohesive team that works in harmony to fulfil their meetings, activities and responsibilities under the constitution. Sheryar’s whole campaign was based on correspondence, seen by his diary which held evidence of his inquiry sessions with 250-300 random strangers about the issues they face in UNMC.

Regarding welfare, he plans to try solving issues related to food, accommodation, hygiene, transport and security. Besides, Sheryar intends on increasing student participation in events as this will ensure that the overall university revenues can be spent on the student’s welfare. Additionally, he hopes to subsidize events that benefit the student body. Sheryar concluded his speech with his slogan “We, not Me” to rally supporters.

Question and Answer Session: Sheryar Nawaz Khan.

The first question directed at Sheryar aimed to gain elaboration on the problems faced by the 250-300 students he spoke to and his plans to solve them. In response, he stated that the main problem was that students complained of issues beyond his portfolio such as limited number of buses travelling to Tiara East; limited access to 24 hour clinics, hospitals and ambulance for international students; food hygiene (although Sheryar mentioned that the SA has recently done a great work on improving this); and problems with the online booking system by some clubs and societies. If elected, he claims that he will look into it and not make empty promises.

The next question was divided into two parts, the first being the candidate’s opinion on this year’s financial issues under the Activities Network, which he advised as the deputy of SA Activities Network. Sheryar stated that it was a golden year for UNMC as a profit was made for Freshers Week, hence there should be no worrying issue regarding the finance of the activities network.

For the second part, it inquired about the candidate’s plan to engage with UNMC students of all races if elected since Sheryar has primarily worked with one race (Pakistani) over the past few years. To this, Sheryar claimed with certainty that this year and last year’s activities team involved those from all races, backgrounds, ethnicities and religions and that no discrimination was made while selecting them.

He even insisted on visiting the SA website right there and then to allow the floor to judge for themselves. In addition, Sheryar stated that he knows how to work as a team since he worked with all of them.

The last question was regarding the 24-hour clinic, particularly the source of funding for a better one. It should be noted that the clinic is outsourced by the university, thus there is a contract and finding someone else after the contract expires may be costly. It is fair to say that he failed to address this question, instead, Sheryar mentioned that the 24-hour ambulance service can be achieved with the aid of the campus security department and possibly paramedics (at least until they reach the Kajang Hospital).

Presidential Debate Session.

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Unlike the previous hustings, the candidates had to undergo further rigorous scrutiny. A presidential debate session that went on for 2 more hours concluded the night, filled with tension, political ambiguity and thinly-veiled accusations. The debate session was hosted by the current Student Council Secretary, Dinesh Jayabalan, who gave a brief introduction on the structure of the debate:

1. General question to all candidates, going in reverse order from hustings.
2. General questions to all candidates answered on a voluntary basis by candidates.
3. A general question by one candidate to the other candidates, with allowance to refrain from asking, but obligation to answer.
Personal questions to each of the candidates.
4. Open Q&A session (general or specific) for 30 minutes.
General Questions (in reverse order).

The candidates were asked to state how their campaign was more inclusive and better than the other candidates, and what they had that the others couldn’t offer for the betterment of UNMC. Going first this time, Sheryar emphasized on the inclusivity of his campaign, quoting its motto, “We, not me”.

He then rehashed his previous endeavour in speaking to 250 to 300 people, which helped him formulate bonds while finding problems and solution. He claimed that speaking to 24 club presidents gives him an upper edge in understanding the standards of management desired by UNMC. He strongly emphasized his experience as being proof of his competency, quoting his success last year in subsidizing the UNMC ball and successfully creating profits for the first time for Fresher’s Week through negotiations.

When prompted by Dinesh regarding the achievements above as being an SA team effort, he stated that he took leadership roles due to having less activity in his portfolio and that this was a testament to his ability to lead. Applause from the floor followed his passionate statement.

However, according to Afrah Ismail, the Student Council Chairperson and the former SA vice President, when Sheryar was deputy of the Activities Network, there was a loss of more than RM30,000 (as shown in the finance report) for the ball. In addition, it is also expected this year’s ball will incur a huge loss too. Although Sheryar mentioned that he’ll use up the 200,000 and allocate it, Afrah claimed that he cannot actually utilize that money because there are expenses that the SA has to bear. Furthermore, there must be a reserve that can be spent on events and other activities so the President can only receive RM100,000 to spend on other Execs.

The primary issue was that this candidate lied about his involvement in negotiating for the price reduction in last year’s ball. In fact, it was the former SA President, Aqeel Deen, who did the negotiating.

Moving on, Saajit responded that by asking random students to determine current issues, his campaign is more inclusive. He ranked the feedback collected and has also started a test route for the transport system. He believes his initiative to start affirms his ability to keep promises.

However, his vagueness in closing by fiercely quoting his slogan “Make UNMC Great Again” (clearly inspired by Trump’s own campaign slogan) prompted questions about using the term “again”, which Saajit clarified was due to the university’s deteriorating standards as compared to when it was first established in Malaysia. The claim fell short as no statistics were given in support of this.

Insaf went under further scrutiny when he stated that he has tackled a wide range of issues pertaining to not only the university but also the community and society at large. When asked to give prove of this since other candidates also had great ideas, he stated that he stood out from the rest because he was willing to adapt the good ideas from other candidates to revise his own manifesto and methods. An uncomfortable silence greeted this statement.

The future of the SA was Tormalli’s utmost priority. She believes that she stands out due to her experience in being with the SA since foundation and that she has the upper hand in dealing with the management.

She also tackled the doubts that had been voiced previously, surprising most by addressing her misstep and admitting that her inability at achieving some goals in her previous terms speaks to her understanding regarding the difficulties in dealing with the management instead.

Some laughter was heard when she was prompted to talk about her feelings as the only female presidential candidate running. She responded by stating that she felt good and encouraged other women to try, reaffirming her belief that UNMC needed a change.

General Questions (Voluntary basis).

Excited murmurs arose from the audience when the tricky question to state 3 possible reasons UNMC might not pick them as the next SA President was posed. Sheryar was first to step forward, saying that his need to take a stand and correct someone, his habit of making the right decision instead of popular decisions and his strict approach to getting the job done might offend people. He was met with a raucous applause when he closed his statement with the quote

“A leader’s job is not to make people happy, that is the job of an ice cream seller.”

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Saajit admitted that his inactivity in previous SA activities, concerns about his qualification and lack of campaigning as being the possible reasons for his hypothetical loss. He tried to reinforce his qualities by claiming to be a man of action, bringing up again his initiative in talking to the management and promising to follow up even if he is not elected.

Insaf landed himself in a hot spot when he pulled the gender card, stating that he might not win because he wasn’t female. He then went on to state the other reasons being that he wasn’t an SA exec and his personality was too easy going and kind.

Tormalli then stated that UNMC might want a fresh face and not a current exec, that she doesn’t look approachable, and thirdly, firing back at Insaf’s jab, that maybe UNMC would want to keep going with a male president.

General Questions by Candidates, to Other Candidates.

Understandably, the floor exploded with laughter when Tormalli asked the other 3 male candidates what they thought that they had that she didn’t. Insaf jokingly pointed out the obvious thing that was implied but chose to restate Tormalli’s previous concern that the students might want a new face and change as his reason. Saajit believes that his Malaysian nationality might give him the upper hand, encouraging more Malaysians to vote and participate in the future. However, Sheryar only vaguely responded that the 3 of them could provide change.

Insaf then asked his fellow candidates how they would improve on the small issues as opposed to targeting only the big issues. An example of substandard cleaning services was given by Insaf upon further prompting from Tormilla, who gave the concise solution of handling the issue by going to the relevant sector, i.e. accommodation offices, instead of bringing a small issue to the higher levels of authority when it could be tackled easily.

The SA website was Saajit’s solution using a smaller approach. He believes that creating a search function to effectively find solutions is key. Sheryar slightly missed the mark when he went off the tangent about how tackling small issues would avoid big issues from cropping up. He stated that it was important to solve each and every small issue before they became serious, giving an example about a poster crisis and changing defective mouses instead of tangible plans.

Saanjit posed an excellent question, asking that if elected as future president, how the candidates would ensure that future execs work efficiently enough and how they would deal with a difficult exec. Sheryar was confident with his abilities to deal with people and conflict, citing the importance of proper communication.

Another less than satisfactory answer was given by Insaf, who kept repeating that he would “play to people’s strengths” and motivate them but did not elaborate on how he would logically implement that. He said he would tolerate each other’s weaknesses in regards to dealing with problematic execs.

Communication to forge personal connection was stressed by Tormilla, who believes that spending time in understanding the person is key to solving conflicts, creating a support system within the team.

Finally, Sheryar set a trap for his rivals by asking how they would distribute the SA grant accordingly to the 8 SA execs portfolios. Answering calmly, Insaf proposed that discussion with the Vice president and respective execs was needed to come to a decision as a team, preventing individual bias.

Sanjit countered by saying that this was not a good question in itself as consultation with the previous presidents would be needed to determine proper division of funding based on the previous year.

Once again, Tormalli proved that her extended involvement in the SA was imperative when she broke down the events each exec portfolio had to organise, drawing examples from her own experience as Education Officer and knowledge of the other departments, concluding that funding would be based on portfolio plans and last year’s budget.

Specific Questions to Each Candidate.

The first problem was directed at Tormalli. Bringing up the issue regarding the lack of initiatives in her manifesto for not wanting to give empty promises, she was tasked with giving an example of ideas she thought was not possible for UNMC campus with her experience as an exec. After beating around the bush, Tormalli finally singled out the idea to install an ATM in Univillage as being redundant because it won’t improve campus life.

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Insaf once again came under fire when asked to comment on the whole concept behind the Orange campaign and why it was suitable for UNMC itself. Sounding slightly agitated, Insaf passionately declared that orange was a color not typically chosen by any candidate, which would help his campaign stand out, ignoring the second question altogether. He was pressed to address his controversial campaign video and the reason for having the same video. Some tension could be felt as Insaf spiritedly insisted that he has put a lot of effort into campaigning.

“Let me make one thing very clear. Every point can be done in UNMC, it is adaptable to UNMC. And if we are to achieve similar standards to the UK, we need some advice from them”.

He detracts that he might lack originality, but all points in his manifesto are feasible, denying plagiarism. Insaf delves into his close relationship with Ismail as mentor and friend being an important motivator. He then holds his stance that nothing wrong has been done, only in regards to creativity and originality. He ended his answer by remarking about the question being in bad taste. The mediator quickly pushed on to the next question as the atmosphere became stifling.

Similar to Tormalli, Saajit was placed under the spotlight when enquired about how he felt being the only Malaysian running. To which he proclaimed that it feels great, especially given the opportunity if elected to communicate directly with representatives from the China and UK campus to promote Malaysia internationally.

He was then asked to state his opinion on why there was a lack of interest of Malaysians in SA elections.  Saajit believes that this could be due to stereotypes, as most locals do not understand the functionality and purpose of the SA. He passionately pronounced that he can bring a change and break the barrier between locals and internationals, firing up the audience into cheers and applause.

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Lastly, Sheryar had to decide whether to bring changes to the expenditure on the graduation ball (one-quarter of the SA grant) or maintain it as a tradition. Sheryar unflinchingly announced that the purpose of the ball was to provide the best experience to seniors and give a memorable farewell.

Yet, he promises to be moderate, keeping the overall budget at an acceptable range. He reminds the audience about his success in reducing the finalised deal with Royal Chulan last year. Sheryar was then required to answer his own question from before, in regards to how he would allocate the SA grants given his familiarity with the SA management. Sheryar impressed the audience by revealing figures for his pre-drafted plan and budget for each portfolio while being open to modifications once he has a better understanding if elected.

Questions Open to the Floor.

Another tricky question was posed when one of the perks of being SA president with a monthly allowance of RM700 was brought up. Candidates were asked if they would still run if this was retracted and if yes, what was the primary reason. All the candidates responded with a definite yes, with Saanjit asserting that he wanted to fulfil his manifesto not just for himself, but everyone. Sheryar delighted the audience when nonchalantly stating that he has worked 2 years for the SA without allowance, what was one more? Insaf wants to be actively involved in making a change and that success was his motivator, whereas Tormalli has been involved with the SA’s growth and would like to see the continuous improvements.

The next question was about improved integration for new international students. The Buddy Scheme is one of the proposed points in Insaf’s manifesto, where second or third years would be recruited to help freshers acclimate to academic and university life. Tormalli suggested giving freshers a welcome package with a booklet filled with relevant information, as pledged in her manifesto. Saajit corrects that local students also need help integrating. He proposes stationing people around to help freshers and speaking to the International Students Office regarding Visa issues. Sheryar gave an anecdote about finding his way on his first day, then suggests extending the bus pick up service to accommodate latecomers.
A member of the audience wondered why these problems have been prominent throughout the years and how they can be fixed, i.e. parking problems and bridge between Univillage and campus. The bridge, according to Insaf, was an idea inspired by Civil Engineers who did a project. He claims Univillage is ready to fund the project, but there is pending action by the local council. He promises to call for a speedy implementation if elected. Saajit acknowledges that the parking problems still persists, but believes that a new scheme is required to tackle this instead of conventional methods. He has consulted the opinions of infrastructure engineers regarding this.

To the surprise of the candidates, a member of the audience called them out on their manifestos for forgetting the true purpose of the university: education. He asks how the candidates as SA president were going to ensure the university prepares students adequately. The candidates were unusually united on this front, each believing that the university faculties were already doing a great job. Only further monitoring of faculties and improvement of clubs were needed, plus personal initiative from students themselves.

Another audience member mentioned about Echo 360 and why none of the presidents planned to take this issue to the higher management. With her previous experience as Education Officer, Tormalli explains that she has spoken to the lecturers. She states that lecturers should be taught how to use the system and consultations with higher management are needed to tackle attendance issue that may arise.

Insaf reinforces his manifesto, saying that all 3 campuses need to have the same facilities. He proposes campaigning to the management to encourage them to abide by university policies. Saajit also cites attendance as a big concern for lecturers in refraining from using the service. He suggests releasing the videos only during study break to counter this. Sheryar was adamant that lecturers should record videos, no excuses given. No solutions were recommended.

Moving on, the candidates were asked the actions they would take to implement a non-smoking campus properly. Campaigning for strict implementation was voiced by Insaf, who states the management itself as being the opposing party. Both Tormalli and Saajit firmly believe harsher standards need to be enforced, with the former proposing fines, and the latter utilising social media to post offenders online. Sheryar wants to tackle the issue by speaking to lecturers and the management to stop smoking habits on campus.

Ignite directed the next question to Insaf, asking for clarification on his previous concern that him being a male would lower his chances of becoming president, when a majority of the previous president-elect were in fact male. Insaf claimed that it was a gut feeling, stating that the student population might be inclined to a female candidate since there was only one running. He also claims that there has been a Malaysian president the last few years but no female president recently. However, he then contradicts himself, saying that individual qualities matter, not gender and nationality.

Ignite then asked Saajit a question from the UNMC student body, in regards to how he’d tackle installing printers in halls and the amount of money he would need. Saajit admitted that he was unsure about the cost, but would push the management to install a printer in one central location, like the Kapas and Pangkor gazebo, to reduce cost and increase accessibility.

Insaf was questioned by Ignite regarding the feasibility of Facebook pages for each SA exec. Contrary to the Student Union, it would be hard for incoming execs to constantly update. Insaf believes that this is a win-win situation for SA execs. This would generate interest and a monthly live video would be a great incentive for execs to make constant progress. In addition to creating a bridge between the student body, questions can be posted on live videos. Insaf then digressed by commending Ignite on efforts to cover the husting, but seek acknowledgement that a lot of effort has been put into his campaigning, including using recycled paper, despite the controversy regarding the video.

The SA’s current president, Linur, inquired about the responsibilities and research done in preparation for the workload, and what sacrifices the candidates were ready to make. Being in his third year, Saajit believes that he can handle the pressure and he has read the constitution. As there have been previous presidents who were engineer students, he is confident that it is achievable. He concedes that the only thing he might end up sacrificing was sleep. Sheryar has approached the 3 previous presidents and initiated a conversation about time management. He is willing to graduate with a second upper degree, placing SA as his first priority. Similarly, Tormalli has read the constitution and spoken to the past presidents. However, she amends that it is not academics but her personal life that will get the cut. Whereas, Insaf has faith that he is disciplined enough to balance academics and presidential work. He has read the constitution.

When asked about how the candidates would hold themselves and fellow exec accountable for the promises made and monitor these, Sheryar pointed out that no vague promises were given in his manifesto and he would make a list of promises achievable by the team. When pressed about modifying his execs’ manifesto, Sheryar clarified that he would discuss realistically with his execs about plausibility and firmly proclaims that only maximum effort will be placed on feasible goals. Saajit, however, opts for an encouraging support and reward system. Insaf does not agree in mingling with the execs manifesto as it is degrading. As some ideas might overlap, he insists on teamwork towards a common goal. This, however, raised the issue of how he would achieve his responsibilities and theirs simultaneously, Insaf then considered dropping manifesto targets after proper discussion. Tormalli aims to use transparency on social media to hold execs accountable for their promises. She believes that this progress tracking system will also placate the students if they see tangible effort attempted in an objective that ultimately failed.

Things got interesting when shots were fired at Tormalli. An audience member wanted to know why she was running for SA again and refused to make way for others, claiming she was being “greedy”. Tormalli defended herself, repeating that she wanted to see SA grow and help guide the other execs to further improve the team. She passionately clarified that she was willing to sacrifice more and genuinely cared about the hard work put into the SA, accepting being labelled “greedy”, if that was the case.

SA president 2017

As the end of the debate drew near, the candidates were asked to prioritise one thing that will get done on their manifestos. Increased participation within SA events to generate more revenue was Sheryar’s; Transport was Saajit’s; Insaf’s emphasis was Wellbeing; whereas Tormalli’s was Freshers’ Welcome improvements.

The last question of the night was directed at Sheryar, with regards to solutions being unsustainable and how to ensure that progress was consistent. Sheryar responded that it was important to keep the ball rolling. Incoming SA execs would need to have proper follow-up directives for new SA execs and a sit-down discussion.

Written by Monisha Sivanesan and Delyn Choong

Photographs by Shazlyn Izura.

"They say that great minds think alike, but also fools seldom differ"

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