Reply to Withdrawal of Invitation: Guest Speaker for KY Summit Kolej Yayasan UEM

For the first time since I left KYUEM, I was ‘disinvited’ to attend an event at my alma matter. Being an alumni who actively took part in activities in the College even after being elected as a state assemblyman and now, the EXCO in charge for education in Selangor, I find it particularly ironic. Below is my reply to the Headmaster who informed me on the withdrawal of the invitation.

24 August 2015
Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad
State Executive Councillor for Education, Human Capital Development, Science, Technology and Innovation
Pejabat Ahli Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan Negeri Selangor
Tingkat 2, Bangunan SSAAS
40000 Shah Alam
TEL NO 03-55447622
FAX NO: 0355193304

Dr Paul Rogers,
Headmaster, Kolej Yayasan UEM
Lembah Beringin, PO Box 62,
35900 Tanjung Malim
Perak Darul Ridzuan

Dear Dr. Rogers,

RE: WITHDRAWAL OF INVITATION: GUEST SPEAKER FOR KY SUMMIT 2015 KOLEJ YAYASAN UEM

I thank you for your letter dated 17 August 2015, withdrawing Kolej Yayasan UEM’s invitation for me to speak at the KYUEM Summit 2015.

2. In your letter, you wrote that: “Unfortunately, despite many prolonged discussions with the college management, we have come to a consensus that we will be unable to accept the honour of having you at this event. Your political stance as an opposition member puts the college as a government linked corporation in a difficult position. We are aware that your presence here would have had a tremendous positive effect on the participants hence we deeply regret having to withdraw our invitation to you. Among the many skilled orators invited, your experience in the field of politics is unequivocal. We implore you to understand our position as we are truly sorry for having to write to inform you of this. We hope to continue the good rapport we have with you and hopefully see you in future events at Kolej Yayasan UEM.”

3. Let me say how flattered and grateful I am for your kind words. I also want to assure you of my continued goodwill, as well as gratitude to my alma mater, KYUEM.

4. Having served as KYUEM’s Student Council President and Alumni President in the past, you may depend on it that my affection for my school has been in no way diminished by this incident. I will stand by my school and do all I can to be of service to it moving forward.

5. KYUEM, which was originally modelled on the very best of British public schools, taught me many important lessons. The chief amongst them was that one must always be willing to stand up for what is right and to have an independent mind.

6. I fully understand as well as sympathise with KYUEM’s position in these difficult times for Malaysia, in which public institutions are being subverted and where the freedom of assembly, thought and speech is neither respected nor welcomed by those in power.

7. Nevertheless, I must say that the college management’s decision to disinvite me is somewhat perplexing given that I had previously spoken at the 2012 KY Summit without, as far as I am aware, incident or problem. Moreover, I have—before and after being elected to the Selangor State Assembly—participated actively in student council training and debate camps organised by KYUEM, again apparently without objection from any quarter.

8. I have also spoken at international universities as well as United Kingdom & Eire Council of Malaysian Students (UKEC) events which were sponsored by government-linked companies (GLCs) and multinationals. My positions as an elected legislator, Selangor’s State Executive Councillor for Education, Human Capital Development, Science, Technology and Innovation as well as head of the Angkatan Muda Parti Keadlian Rakyat (AMK) furthermore means that I have a duty and responsibility to constantly engage with Malaysian students and youth.

9. As such, it is highly unfortunate that the college management found it necessary to disinvite me from the event. One would have hoped that, as proprietors of an institution dedicated to the education and training of youth, they would have been more open-minded as well as displayed more imagination and backbone in this matter. It has left me to wonder therefore, whether this was genuinely the “consensus” of the management or rather that some kind of external interference was at play.

10. As an alumnus, the last thing I would want is to bring KYUEM into scandal or disrepute, nor am I particularly desperate to speak at the event. However, it is deeply disturbing and upsetting to me that the students of KYUEM are seemingly not being allowed to think for themselves and are being prevented by the management from being exposed to a variety of opinions on crucial issues of national importance.

11. I trust therefore that you will understand why I am choosing to write to you via an open letter, so that the Malaysian public can be fully informed of the facts in this matter.

12. Let me end by assuring you again of my highest consideration and deepest affection for KYUEM. Please do not hesitate to let me know if I can be of assistance to the college in the near future.

Sincerely,

Signed
NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
Garnet House, KYUEM Class of 2002
President, KYUEM Student Council 2001
President, KYUEM Alumni 2003-2005