On the morning of 19 March, I received a phone call from R of Batch SMP89 to alert me that AnsaraBP Exco was organising a press conference (“PC”) on same afternoon. R and I were at the same conference for 2 days hence we were not aware of any emails on this matter except for that morning itself.
I proceeded to call a fellow alum in T’ganu to get (for the sake of this story let’s call him Abu) Abu’s #, who happens to be the person responsible for the PC. Abu called me while I was in the basement parking the car and I told him I will call him back later, but texted his number to R so that she could follow up. On same day I had meetings after meetings to attend, so I didn’t have time to return Abu’s call or to check the AnsaraBP mailing list til later that night. R and Miss X (of batch SPM 90 who’s also the secretary of AnsaraBP) tried calling me throughout the day but I was not able to speak to either of them during the day.
Now, why was I in a flap? The reason why I was protesting to the PC is because of its agenda. It was to (and I post this word for word copied from the original email sent by Abu to the mailing list):
Tujuan sidang media ini ialah untuk:
- Menykong tindakan YB Dato’ Mukhriz menghantar surat kepada Perdana Menteri.
- Menyatakan kerisauan terhadap perkembangan Melayu di Pulau Pinang, Balik Pulau khususnya.
- Mengwar-warkan program Kembali Ke Maktab sempena sambutan Jubli Perak MRSM Balik Pulau yang akan diadakan pada 17 Mei 2008
Quite a few people wrote to mailing list to protest, and a few wrote to support. Later that night when I checked the board, I saw emails from R (against) and Mr Ali (support) and since both made mention of my name I decided to reply.
Obviously I am very much against agenda 1 & 2. I believe AnsaraBP should be non-partisan as it is a social network; turning AnsaraBP into a political organisation is a mockery of its existence especially since its members were not informed about this PC at the first place. I made it very clear that while I am happy to help, my time is limited so please get the publicity AJK that’s doing the running around and handle the day to day operations to call me or R for advice and assistance since we’re both in PR.
My email was replied to by both Miss X and Abu; both of them wrote back in a condescending manner (I post Abu’s email below which was obviously directed to me for your reading pleasure). What made me very annoyed is the fact that Abu knows me, we have met and spoken over the phone many times and I have always been a regular poster in the board; not mentioning the fact that I have been supportive of AnsaraBP events and provided ideas, suggestions, feedback etc although I don’t physically participate in the teh tarik sessions or meetings etc due to my hectic schedule. Yet he talks down to me as if he’s the only person who knows and understands what hard work means.
Abu’s email, spelling mistakes and all:
Miss X.. now i know how to make wake up call to people yang very care about ansarabp… Dengaq kata ada org nak cincang-cincang aku pasai PC nih… mai la Kajang, aku dok kat sg chua no tipon **********…. sms suruh aku call balik tak dilayan…aku tak sangka plak PC ni akan effect career seseorang.. kena pakai wig, pakai mask jumpa org.. aku pun dah letih Lina… since found this chapter in 2003 sampai la… so aku gembira la juga tengok nama-nama baru yang declare they are very care bout ansarabp ni.. (good image of ansarabp???) … AKu syok la lepas ni ramai la muka baru yang akan volunteer to run any activity… (hopefully la???) Erk.. sapa tadi..? R??? IJAH??ok… welcome to ANSRABP committee… So, you can lend your time, energy, anything to train us yang taktau apa-apa ni to handle PC or anything related to PR… or after this we can pass to u to handle, cos u’re very expert (PR Consultant) in this area…
Sapa lagi??? email skyvalder ka apa nama? nurfikri ka apa??? u know what ansarabp all about? is good… i can release all this to you.. tenaga muda… mesti kuat, berpandangan jauh dan bersemangat kan….Mr Ali n gagak, respect your opinion, i’ll respond after Miss X attach the press release…
To Ketua Cawangan, TAHNIAH!!! Mission Accomplished.. Saya tetap berdiri dan menyokong kepimpinan Ketua Cawangan sekarang (ayat ampu)…..
After receiving the above email (via mailing list), I decided it wasn’t worth the aggravation so I effected my earlier intention to leave the group and did so immediately. I didn’t need to consult or tell anyone, I just did it, turned off the laptop, took a shower and slept.
Today I received several emails from current AnsaraBP members urging me to rejoin the group. Below I post the one that I received from Mr Ali. My reply to him was, of course, no.
Make your own opinion and conclusions, but from where I am standing, I think the Exco is being childish and disrespectful. And from a personal point of view:
- If this is the kind of leadership that I have to follow and put up with, one that has no sense of respect, then no thanks I’d rather not have a leader.
- If this is the kind of friends that I socialise with, then I need to find new friends.
- If this is the kind of organisation that I am represented by, then I don’t want a representation. In my world common courtesy is mandatory; I demand it, it’s not even an option.
So, Ijah giving up? Done. It was an easy decision.
p/s: I was told today that my unsubscribing from the AnsaraBP mailing list was mentioned in the board. Reminds me of the definition of being famous i.e. monopolising the conversation even when you are not there. Ha hah. I am amused.
from Mr Ali – sent to Ijah’s personal email:
Ijah. I am disappointed to hear that you are choosing to leave us, as I have always found your input valuable and entertaining. We also seem to be aligned on where this organisation should lead to – to contributing back to society – even though we may differ in the philosophy, boundaries and actions we can and cannot take in this effort.
I must hence urge you to come back on board. This is for 2 reasons in addition to the above:
- The organisation will not change to the way you wish for it to be if your efforts to change it is from the outside. Changing an organisation takes effort, but an internal effort is certainly the only one that matters – trust me, I know this as I have been trying to change **** from the inside (in my own insignificant way) for the last 14 years since my joining it. I lament the inertia for change, but I refuse to give up as I know that leaving would be tantamount to conceding, giving up, no matter how you wish to justify it to yourself.
- Whilst you are right in demanding the exco to consult us on this matter, the exco has every right to act on our behalf once they are voted in. That is what representative democracy is all about – and the adjustment of objectionable action once action is taken is by ballot at the next exco election. The same is true with Malaysia – once the majority votes BN in, they rule, and no, we have no say other than by urging right action or till the next elections.
I had a chance to run for ANSARA BP leadership last year, but I chose not to for various reasons, but for that reason, when the exco now takes actions I disagree with, all I can do is act as a member within the limits of that right, and perhaps adjust things the next election if I remain disatisfied.
So Ijah, whilst your leaving may have made a point satisfactory to you personally now, it changes nothing in ANSARA BP and the organisation also loses you voice and industry in the direction it will be pointing. I hence urge you to return to the discussion group and retain your contributions to the organisation. Change it from within as you wish to see it, never give up and cast your ballot of disatisfaction or indeed run yourself for an exco post when the time comes. But please, don’t give up.
Thanks and wassalam …
My reply to Mr Ali
Hi Mr Ali,
Frankly I joined AnsaraBP for one reason only: I wanted to track down exBPs, juniors mostly, to help them with their careers because I had a hard time choosing mine (or even knowing what were the options available to me) and was given all sorts of misinformation when I was counselled in BP. Not blaming the teachers or the environment though coz I know their understanding of the job market is limited by their exposure to the industry.
But now that I am also an employer, I know I can help the juniors in a positive way. And trust me over the last 11 years, I have helped many BP students or their siblings get jobs, internships, industrial trainings etc right down to editing their resumes and telling them what’s right or what’s wrong with their skills. I have even hired some of them myself during their semester holidays or while waiting to get a “proper” job in the industry of their choice. Perhaps this kind of contribution doesn’t fit into the generally accepted form of (physical) volunteerism in AnsaraBP because it is done with very little noise, but I have to work within my limitations of time and influence.
Generally I do not interfere with the way things are run by the Exco unless it is something that can be potentially damaging to a lot of people. Whatever was the reason for the PC, it was gimmicky and inappropriate, more so with the fact that these people didn’t pre-empt the members about it (a vote might be going too far but prior notice would have been nice so that those in disagreement can choose their own course of action).
While I appreciate and understand your line of reasoning, I have lost interest to be associated with the alumni especially since at any one time I am exposed to and/or can be blindsided by decisions made by the Exco. Mr Abu may be sarcastic when he said he didn’t know that the Alumni is so powerful that its decisions or stance can hurt people’s careers, but it my case this is a real possibility. (next line can’t be reprinted as it contains confidential info); hence disassociating myself from AnsaraBP (now that it has been made perfectly clear that the Exco can and will make political statements as it sees fit) is no longer a purely personal decision but one that is also necessary to keep food on my table. I lobby (not fit for print) on a regular basis; AnsaraBp is now a liability and one that can kill my reputation. I know I am being dramatic, but in all honesty I cannot afford the risk. PR, after all, is all about perception and it’s a fickle mistress at that.
If this turned out to be a bad decision on my part, well, it’s my loss then. I am not saddened by my decision nor is there a sense of satisfaction. As they say, que sera sera kan?