On 10th March 2017, Muhammad Hishamudin, a second-year Nutritions Student, appeared to start off strongly by relating his campaign to the Malay proverb “air yang dicincang tak akan putus”. This is the Malay equivalent of the saying that “blood is thicker than water”. With the goal of promoting unity among the students and staff of UNMC, the only Home Officer candidate for this term laid out his manifesto, focusing on his idea of a “Spread the Kindness” campaign. In his own words, this was in order to create a “harmonious campus”.
Hishamudin then moved on to the other aspects of his manifesto. Among which, he suggested an online software, to improve the scheduling of cleaning for rooms in the accommodation halls. He also promised to install a box in the campus shuttle buses to store lost items that were found. Additionally, he planned to bring a “Food Fill” festival to introduce students to Malaysian food.
Questions And Answer Session.
Hishamudin’s confidence however quickly faltered in the question and answer session. During this, the audience, who appeared dissatisfied with his speech, raised pointed questions regarding his manifesto. When asked if he had a plan to bridge the gap between the Malaysian and international students, he referred to his “Spread the Kindness” campaign. The campaign was once again brought up when inquired about his long-term plan for promoting unity. To this, he suggested giving out chocolates and motivational quotes to students.
Then, a member of the audience asked Hishamudin about his plans to improve the welfare of Malaysian students. In response, he claimed that he had connections with the Campus Services, a statement which raised eyebrows amongst the audience. He also generated reactions from the audience when he said that his own money would be used to begin a reward system in order to increase the number of responses in online surveys, before seeking for funds.
Unfortunately, his answers did not satisfy the audience, with many feeling that he had dodged their questions. Some believed that he lacked a long-term plan, with his “Spread the Kindness” event an answer to many of the questions. According to one member of the audience, Hishamudin is –
“an ambitious person who needs to know his stuff before he actually decides to step up.”
Finally, a surprising exchange occurred towards the end of the Home Students Officer hustings. Tempers flared when Hayaat Ali Kurmaully, a Sustainability Officer candidate, called out Hishamudin for having a manifesto that did not cover certain aspects of what Hayaat thought were the Home Officer’s responsibilities. However, some of the terms Hayaat had pointed out were apparently not consistent with the position of Home Students Officer.
This led the current SA Home Students Officer, Sasha Amira, to recitify his points. She clarified that food, transport, accommodation, security issues and all other non-academic issues were under the Home Students Officer. Hayaat, whom appeared unsatisfied with the correction, used the final chance for questioning Hishamudin to instead question Sasha’s right in correcting him.
Student Council Chairperson, Ahmed Afrah Ismail, then quickly moved to defuse the situation. He pointed out that Hayaat’s invalid point justifies Sasha’s clarification. Then, the Returning Officer of the Elections Committee, Ibrahim Miflal Fayaz, reminded the audience that questions should be directed to the SA candidate participating in the hustings and not another member of the audience.
Hishamudin then left the stage, possibly feeling slightly relieved that the spotlight had been taken off of him at the end. After an intense grilling session which did little to boost his credentials, it remains to be seen if he has convinced the students of UNMC that he is the right candidate for the position, despite being the only one running.
Written by Saran Anandan.
Photographs by Ahmed Afrah Ismail.