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Hipsters occupying Dataran Merdeka

 | April 19, 2012

Society doesn't owe you anything. You will repay the money that you owe and that if you do well enough in school, you will be rewarded by not having to carry the burden of debt when you go into working life.


Long before over-dramatic college students or so called “Mahasiswa” began occupying Dataran Merdeka, another group of idealistic, rebellious young people have occupied that very field years ago; only instead of “Mahasiswa”, they are called “Rempit” whose ideal is to clock the shortest time one can cover from Jalan Raja Laut to Dataran Merdeka in a combustive mix of petrol, oxygen and bravery.

Just like the current occupiers, the founding fathers of Occupy Dataran, Mat Rempits, battle the authorities day and night – from crashing through the roadblocks mounted by the oppressive traffic police to kicking down obstructions erected by Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur.

Of course, due to the constant crackdown by the oppressive authorities in combating these pesky young adults, occupying Dataran Merdeka dropped out of the main stream and these young rebels with noisy two-cylinder exhaust pipe migrated elsewhere.

Since then, Dataran Merdeka became the de facto dating point for young Malay couples during the weekends because it’s bright and open enough to be considered as “Bukan Khalwat” and cheaper than paying Saturday night premium rate at a karaoke outlet.

Hence true to the nature of a hipster that tends to copy cool things they see on the Internet and abhorring sensible things because it’s too mainstream, we now have a bunch of hipsters camping out in Dataran Merdeka because they, too, like the occupiers in Wall Street, would like to fight for something idealistic and honourable just like the 99%-1% activists they see on 9gag.

Well, guess what folks, no matter how much sincerity and idealism these activists seem to be portraying, the reality is this: unlike the Occupy Wall Street movement which is all about the 99%, Occupy Dataran is actually about the 1% pretending to be the 99%. In truth, the majority of Malaysians, even those who are not fond of the government, don’t think that college kids (read : Mahasiswa) have to be put on a pedestal to the extent of us having to pay for everything so that you can get off scot-free without the need to repay your study loan.

Having subsidised 90% of your college fees unlike those in private institutions, it’s irritating that now you’re over-dramatising the whole issue simply because one particular politician regurgitates yet another oath in his long list of non-logical, non-binding political promises that more often than not get broken.

Look here, you drama queens: life is hard; take it from me, I too was a “Mahasiswa” though I refuse to call myself that because it seemed too “douche’ to do so thanks to people like you and guess what, I too have a PTPTN loan that I need to pay.

In fact, if anything, I would be immensely happy to get rid of this burden of mine at the cost of someone else. But guess what, I’m not a 15-year-old who thinks that the universe is unfair because I don’t have an iPhone whereas all the other cool kids do. I know that in this case I can’t afford to be selfish when one is to promote or support a national policy that is going to affect generations after me. One has to think beyond the thoughts of an idealistic spectrum.

The issue of productivity

Getting rid of PTPTN isn’t a one-time thing regardless of what those politicians say; for instance, you may be able to repay all the money in a certain period of time yet you still need to continue pumping in money once all the debt has been cleared.

This is simply because you get a new batch of students each year; if you abolish PTPTN as a mechanism to fund their education, surely you would need to offer something else.

To simplify this whole issue by arguing that providing free education is the moral thing to do, well guess what, 90% of public university fees are subsidised and to simply pay off the last 10% isn’t going to do much.

Students take PTPTN loan not only to pay for their college fees but also as a mean to bear the cost of living. Things like textbooks, rent, transport, food and so on. So when you abolish PTPTN to provide a truly free education, you would have to provide scholarships and unless we have the population and oil reserve of Brunei, there is no way Petronas can fund all of them. Even if Petronas can fund it all, what right do these students have over the rest of the population?

Then there’s also the issue of productivity. Since everything is subsidised, the drive to do well in the academic field like getting on the dean’s list and obtaining good grades diminishes greatly as the major incentive of scholarship is no longer there.

How about private institution and technical schools? Are you going to provide funding for them too since you have already dismantled PTPTN? Why offer free education to students of public institutions only? Isn’t that unfair? Shouldn’t free education be across the board?

At least the “Mat Rempits” eventually go home; they don’t erect tents and camp in public spaces and demand things from society.

Though horrifying those idiotic Rempits can be, at least they are “adult” enough to know that they have to answer for their actions, which is why they try their best to avoid the authorities.

Society doesn’t owe you anything. You will repay the money that you owe and if you study hard enough and do well enough in school, you will be rewarded by not having to carry the burden of debt when you go into working life.

You protest that the government is controlling too much, you shout for freedom arguing that you are adults and that you shouldn’t be ordered and controlled like schoolchildren, yet at the same time you expect the government to pay everything for you. Come on la bro…

P/S – An official letter of invitation has been sent to Safwan Anang, the chairman of Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia to debate Zaidel Baharuddin (Yours Truly) regarding this matter. They have so far insisted that they will only debate with Khairy Jamaluddin (eventhough he will debate Rafizi Ramli on this very same topic) and for it to be hosted in Dataran Merdeka. Would you like to see me debate with these folks in a university? Tell me what you think?

Zaidel Baharuddin is Mr Right, Mr Right Wing that is, electronics engineer by day writer by night, Frank Sinatra fanboy all day long, catch me at WirawanWeb.com, lipassepi.blogspot.com or follow me on twitter via @Sinatra_Z. He is a FMT columnist.

Also read:

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