The only candidate running for SA Vice President, Khizer Munir, introduced himself, gave a brief speech, and endured the intense question and answer session.
He started his speech by discussing why he is qualified for the position of VP. His past experiences include being a member and director of Public Relations in a youth rotary club and a founding member of a start up in Pakistan. In UNMC, he is the current VP of Pakistan Society (PakSoc). According to Khizer, he gained his leadership experience from this role. However, his leadership abilities were later criticized in the question and answer session.
During his speech, Khizer elaborated on the following manifesto points: the need for better lighting on campus, implementing a housing accreditation service for accommodation, and bridging the gap between students and the SA.
Initially, he explained the lack of illumination on pathways (e.g. new halls to RK fathima and campus to Univillage) and unsustainable energy consumption on campus. He advocated for solar powered lights and motion sensor lights. The rationale for investing in more lights was justified in relation to the safety of students commuting at night in “pitch black” darkness. He reiterated that lighting and energy consumption are major issues, which he hopes to work on as VP. Despite his desire for change, Khizer has yet to discuss the feasibility of the idea with the head of campus services but has scheduled a meeting for it.
His ideas for an accommodation system involves rating rooms on a scale of 5 stars and prohibiting the rental of rooms rated below a score of 2 stars. This concept aims to resolve the problems of vandalism and damaged rooms by issuing fines, similar to the system at Univillage. Thus, all students living on campus are guaranteed a standardized quality of accommodation.
As VP, Khizer wishes to unite students and the SA, primarily through facilitating more interaction via frequent updates of the SA website. He assumed that emails sent by SA are considered spam and most people are unaware of events due to the substandard maintenance of the website.
One aspect Khizer did not address from his manifesto was the improvement in advertising the counseling service on campus. When interviewed by IGNITE, he did express a willingness to improve awareness about mental health. While his approach is somewhat more focused on support for international students, he did admit he wants to educate all students about the service.
The candidate concluded by promising he would put in “maximum effort” to execute his goals and change UNMC for the better.
Question and Answer Session
The feasibility of solar-powered lights was questioned, as the initial investment is relatively high. Khizer responded by stating that in the long-term, his solution is more sustainable. He considers the current lights to be outdated and inefficient; it is reasonable to substitute them with energy-saving technology. He informed IGNITE of his solution to any financial issue: selling current lights to fund investing in new solar bulb lights, which may be imported from China.
An audience member argued that Khizer failed to host the largest event for the PakSoc (Cultural Mashup). The student doubted Khizer’s ability to perform as VP in a cultural society and asked how he can be a reliable VP when he can’t even host a single major event. He answered by stating there was a cancellation of the booking for the event due to the management and he had successfully hosted the event in the previous year. Furthermore, he mentioned how it was not feasible to hold the event (which was meant to happen in October) this semester instead due to ICN. There will be a trip to Malacca in April as a replacement for the event.
When asked about his understanding of his job scope, Khizer said he is expected to work as a team in the SA committee in order to achieve goals proposed in the manifestos of SA executives. In response to a similar line of questioning by the current VP, John Lim, Khizer mentioned that taking responsibility and working with a team describes his entire role. He avoided directly answering questions and seems to lack the persuasive skills to prove he is aware of his responsibilities as VP and is a suitable candidate for the position.
It was later revealed that Khizer had failed to read the SA constitution, which outlines the responsibilities of his position. Hence, he is not familiar with his role. Since VP is the second highest position in the SA, there is reason for concern. Khizer responded that he did not have time to read the constitution and declared he would read it before he gets elected (if he does). To this, John expressed his apprehension in trusting someone who is not fully committed to their job with RM750 per month for the academic year.
Another member of the audience asked how someone who hasn’t read the constitution, has no marketing or communications in their own campaign, no poster nor social media presence can lead the marketing and communications (marcoms) team. Khizer was asked to explain why students should vote for him. To which he replied, “no comment”. It was apparent that Khizer was unaware the marcoms network existed in the first place, as he remained silent when John explained it to him. It was also evident that Khizer hasn’t approached anyone as of now regarding his ideas including the current VP or head of marcoms whom he will be working with.
The last question sparked even more controversy. It was noted that Khizer originally submitted a manifesto, which was plagiarized from a past manifesto from another institution. When asked to clarify why the incident occurred, Khizer claimed that he submitted the wrong file. Supposedly, his manifesto and the one he submitted were both entitled ‘manifesto’, to which the audience burst into laughter. IGNITE asked if all of Khizer’s ideas were original. He honestly acknowledged that he did refer to other manifestos and ideas on the Internet from around the globe.
Whether it was true or not, he was then asked whether students should rely on someone who makes careless mistakes as small errors may have larger implications in the SA. He defended himself by saying that everyone makes mistakes and he had rectified it immediately.
Admittedly, Khizer had not anticipated the scrutiny he experienced during the question and answer session. When IGNITE asked for his response to the reaction of the audience and unexpected questions he received, he confessed he was slightly shocked but the experience was an eye-opener for him.
Written by Sophie Byfield
Photographed by Joann Chua Rou En