Life, dissent and student dramas—Johan Jaafar

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What future for our barren universities?

After attending a theatre production by university students (at a private college), John Jaafar reflects on the old days and old ways

It reminds me of my university days when students made their mark demonstrating in the streets as they were expressing their voices on stage. The early 70s were the most robust times in the annals of the University of Malaya, creativity-wise. Student [drama] productions were part and parcel of university life…

How things have changed.

Religiosity, the Universities and University Colleges Act and artistically-clueless administrators, among others, have stifled creativity in the campuses. Most campuses today are almost devoid of cultural voices. The arts were eyed with suspicion when the nation was embarking on an industrial makeover. Subjects in the humanities were frowned upon. Literature was believed to be the least commercial of scholarly disciplines.

Commercialisation of public universities is changing the dynamics of scholarly tradition. Universities are not supposed to be a snake temple but a breeding ground for leadership, creativity and innovation. We haven’t woken up to the reality that creativity is the key to the future success of the nation. We are losing our creative edge, which can have catastrophic consequences in the long run. As we are in dire need of moral leadership, we need students to learn more about humanity in a creative way.

» In the limelight, on stage (New Straits Times online)

literary man, writer, farmer and press lord
formerly chief editor Utusan Malaysia, sacked by Mahahir Mohamed,
formerly chairman of Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka,
currently chairman of Media Prima and NSTP

» The Student Movement In Malaysia, 1967-74 (Idealis Mahasiswa)

Syed Hamid Ali, student leader (UMSU 1967-1970) and film-maker Fahmi Reza
» Leading the student movement in the 1960s (The Nut



3 thoughts on “Life, dissent and student dramas—Johan Jaafar

    • so vely true. like so many of the mainstream bosses, cakap tak serupa bikin. they talk about ideals but do not have the guli to practise that they preach. what has he done for NST and BH other than to reduce the circulation and readership of both papers. the editors and reporters look up to him for guidance and leadership on journalistic ethics but what we have are pages after pages of propaganda that “poke the eye” every day.

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