Listen, Listen, Listen….Listen

sharifah ego

(Listen, listen, listen….from someone who suppose to be listening in the first place. With that magical word and gesture, all the sudden the esteemed speaker have been reduced to nothing but patronising and rude unwanted propagandist who now is the end of the unwanted attention of the country. Image source:

The main “news of the week” (other than that SYABAS managed to resolve the water supply disruption in the Klang Valley) has to be this:-

A second year law student became an overnight sensation when she stumped a NGO leader with her questions on free education. KS Bawani took on Suara Wanita 1Malaysia (SW1M) president, Sharifah Zohra Jabeen at a forum entitled ‘Are University Students in Line with Politics’ last month in UUM. In the video entitled ‘Forum Suara Mahasiswa Part 4′,

Sharifah was unable to counter Bawani’s argument in favour of free education and went ballistic against Bawani. Sharifah insisted that Bawani listen to her explanation. She said ‘listen’ and ‘let me speak’ seven times.

Meanwhile, higher education deputy minister Saifuddin Abdullah criticised Sharifah Zobra Jabeen’s action as “condescending and patronising”. “I am sad with what I saw in the video. Sharifah should had let Bawani complete her speech. Even if you don’t agree with her, you should reply nicely… not condescending and patronising.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin meanwhile disassociated his party from SW1M. The 1Malaysia tag is Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s clarion call to unite Malaysians regardless of race.


It is a bit sad that we could not get to know what Bawani was trying say as she was told to shut up before she can complete her statement and asked to go back, sit down and continue to listen to the brain-washing session (well it is not the first time we hearing this nonsense).

“Someone” thought that since no local public university students would dare to talk back against the Government as many probably are there on Government grants and scholarships (same case expected of the Government students) and afraid to voice out in fear of losing their place in the university and in view of the up-coming general elections, decided to use some unknown pro-BN NGO to indoctrinate them with strong sense of obedience to the Government’s policies and instil deep hatred to the Oppositions or anyone who do not share the same views (hmm, sounds familiar?) and it back-fired very, very badly.

One sole brave soul had enough of the nonsense, stood up, collected her courage and blasted the speaker with hard cold facts and left the speaker speechless to a point where the speaker could not say anything intelligent other than “listen, listen, listen, listen…..listen” and asking Bawani to leave the country if she was not happy in Malaysia. KS Bawani who took the brunt of patronizing and cheap response from the speaker, Sharifah Zobra Jabeen, a leader from a NGO known as Suara Wanita 1Malaysia, has been labelled unsurprisingly brave, factual and an inspiring future leader whilst Sharifah as patronizing, unprofessional, hard to control and downright rude.

Thanks to the Youtube and the comments flying all over the place in the internet, Sharifah’s faults seems to be just too obvious – she should have just stopped and waited for Bawani to finish her arguments and then professionally reply Bawani with relevant facts of her own. Even she did not know how to reply Bawani (perhaps because Bawani’s facts made more sense and is the truth), she should have at least said that her points have been noted and she will check on it later. She should have done that instead of uttering “listen” 10 times and rudely pulling the microphone away from Bawani. Bawani on the other hand should have kept herself one notch cooler than how she was when she was facing Sharifah (without any support from her fellow students) – at least, this would have killed the some of petty contentions that she was too emotional during the talk but then again, seeing from Bawani’s point of view, who wouldn’t be emotional when faced with a series of lies and brain-washing.

The undue rude response from the speaker may be seen by some as something isolated or trivial perhaps but we should look at it from a bigger perspective.

Looking at the incident in UUM, one have to asked whether this would have been another failure in our system where there is an overwhelming fear of an open debate on something that the establishment had decided for. Or has this been the business of the day where the people in power are bent on asking others to hold their silence just because they do not share and support opposing views? Have we lost our sense of courtesy on listening to what others have to say just because we are bigger and in a higher position than the rest?

Bawani could have just asked her to shut-up and listen to her first in the same manner this rude speaker asked Bawani to stop and listen. But perhaps Bawani had a better sense of courtesy (the speaker is after all just a guest in UUM) and better judgement (she did not organise the forum in the first place, so perhaps it is better to let them have their way first to talk their share of the garbage and go away). And as whole, it seems that time and avenue is still not right for students to be vocal and able to disagree to whatever characters like Sharifah’s can say in public forums:-

Two influential varsity students associations as well as PAS Youth and Muslimat wings have praised a student for her courage in speaking out against government policies during a Barisan Nasional-backed event in Sintok, Kedah. University of Malaya’s outspoken Islamic Undergraduates Association (PMIUM) gave the thumbs-up to law student K.S. Bawani in the face of insults publicly hurled at her last month by the head of a pro-UMNO outfit during a forum in Universiti Utara Malaysia.

However, PMIUM expressed regret that not one from among the 2000 students gathered in the auditorium had attempted to come to Bawani’s defence when the latter was continously interrupted by Sharifah Zohra Jabeen Syed Shah Miskin, the head a group calling itself ‘Suara Wanita 1Malaysia’ which organised the event.

“Not one undergraduate had the courage to defend the student (Bawani) when she was attacked by president of Suara Wanita 1Malaysia. Perhaps they were muted by the promise of (Samsung) Galaxy Note? “Friends, undergraduates should not be fooled in such manner!” said PMIUM’s women’s affairs committee chairperson Noor Afifah Jamaluddin.

Questioning the real agenda of the forum, Afifah challenged Zohra to meet UM students and prove her claim of practising mutual respect by engaging in a discussion.


And at end of the day, there must be a proper closure to this chapter – not by punishing Bawani and others like her with forcing them to shut and listen to whatever nonsense, biased and half-baked garbage that anyone with the wrong credentials can dish out in front of fellow Malaysians. They must wake up and realize that we are no longer in 1950s where having strong thoughts about something can be dangerous and easily misinterpreted, we are no longer limited to one source for information (these days information is at one’s finger-tips) and we are no longer need to keep quiet if want things to change for the better (Bersih and Hindraf rallies are testament to that).

In that sense, it was heartening to know that people like higher education deputy minister Saifuddin Abdullah took Bawani’s side and was not happy on the manner Sharifah conducted herself. But we need to do more. It’s time for critical thinking. It’s time to have plenty of avenues for open debate and to forward one’s thoughts & facts on the current issues. Let’s stop all this brain-washing forums, seminars and rallies at schools and universities level where students should only focus on education and nothing more. It is not right and it brings more harm than good.