I wanted to do something really different for the blog. Something more than just me blogging all day long. So i decided to take a serious and relevant issue, and do an interview with a prominent figure that can shed some light on the issue. So i tried to contact our YDP, technically he's no longer the YDP but who's counting anyway. There were a few topics we discussed with him, and I am going to post in 4 parts...
Part 1: the food issue
Part 2: Student clubs and organizations
Part 3: Student Politics
Part 4: the last lecture
Here's some additional stuff i wanna talk about this issue. Every student is complaining about food prices and food quality. It had been going on for years and it will continue for years to come. For candidates of the coming student election, rather than wasting time creating bombastic manifestos full of ideological and fanciful BS, student should just focus on this issue and convince us you can solve this problem.
But I wouldn’t put all the blame on student leaders. In the video above, one of the things that the MPP had tried to do was trying to reduce the rent so price of food would be cheaper. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. I put the blame on the main contractor. The party that is sub-contracting to all the small café operators. I think the main contractor must not be so strict and give some consideration to students. After all, they practically have no cost incurred when they sub-contracted everything. Even the cost of building the cafes is already a sunk cost. I hope this party has a conscious to consider our situation as students. As far as I can see, sub-contracting everything is not a business but exploitation, yes; I’m also talking to all the Ali Baba construction people. I mean, if you’re just sub-contracting everything than you’re not learning to become a better company, you’re just taking advantage of situations. I hope I can see these people and ask what is really going on. Right now, I really think these people are greedy people who suck out the life of students by just being well connected. But I will try to remain objective, if contradictory news about it surfaces.
Rather than just blaming other people like Malaysians always do, why not I give some suggestions. Again in the video, another effort of the MPP was to have a value plan for students. As far as I understand, it was to have the cafes to reduce price for a meal that consists of the basic food groups. If it’s wrong, forgive me. But I suggest another tactic for the value plan. Every meal time, one and only one dish is priced lower than it should be normally. It might not taste as good other dishes, but at least people have a choice, price or taste. And it’s only one dish, maybe two, one meat one vegetable. Another, way is too charge people less than normal, and charge more for people who buy more than normal. For example, normally you would pay a dish a meal with 1 meat and one vegetable cost RM4, so my idea is for cafes to charge the same meal RM3 and when somebody wants to add another dish it will cost more than usual. This way, there is a choice between extra food and price. Of course, there are pros and cons but I’m just giving my two cents of ideas.
No matter what ideas I come up with it is still susceptible to political effect. Seriously, Malaysia is too over-politicized in every field and every level. I’m getting sick of it. Maybe I would write a post titled “Unnecessary politics in Malaysian governance”. Anyway, what I’m trying to say there is not enough political will to solve this issue. “Political Will” I’m sure you guys hear this term a lot, please don’t associate me with any political party, mature a bit la. I’m not being political, I’m critical. We have been chasing stuff like ‘Apex University’, doing fancy projects, forcing students to join random activities but we fail to cater to these basic needs. We are what we eat, so imagine this. We are trying to improve our university’s standing, be the best in the world, but our leaders cannot understand that what are at the core towards this dream are students. With this quality of food, that we are feeding ourselves, our brain enough nutrition? You won’t see me pushing away my food, but I just want to say before even thinking about big things about UPM, think about the students basic needs, no need fancy-fancy and flashy stuff for us.
Another thing, is that the focus on students was never in UPM administration’s management system, as far as I know, even if it does, it’s not working. I feel there are no KPIs for student’s welfare. For those who don’t know, KPI means Key Performance Indicators. Every professional organization has a set of KPIs. Examples: 30% profit growth, open two more business premises, reduce inventory cost by 20% and etc. UPM has KPIs too (AIESEC also have KPIs, lol, wanna promote AIESEC a bit). But there are no KPIs that represent students need like “reduce food price to RM3”, although my example is not that good but something like that, a KPI that forces management to take students seriously. A mentality and attitude change is needed. I have a friend who wants to recheck his paper, and the clerk lady gave a sigh and “pandang slack” (dunno wat in English) as if my friend was bothering her, but my friend already paid the fee and after all, it was her job, her responsibility. What kind of attitude is that?! But enough of that, the point is that management should see students as leaders of tomorrow, and not just lip-sync it as great tag line for good publicity.
Before I get too emotional about this issue, I guess I should conclude by saying that unless an attitude and mentality to change of management towards university students happen, then no solution can be achieved about this food crisis issue. Goodbye, and don’t forget to come back to see more issues discussed with sabrie.