Grads, plan your future carefully

Dear Graduands, Parents, and saudara saudara sekalian

Selamat Pagi Dan Selamat sejahtera


I feel privileged and honoured to be invited to give this Convocation Address. Convocations are indeed very special occasions. They are major milestones in the lives of very few Graduands, who are actually a small proportion of their age group. Indeed, Convocations provide a Head Start to the few bright young students in any generation, to set them on a path of leadership, for them to lead the rest of their communities!

It is therefore an honour for the Raffles Education Group Leaders and Parents and Relatives, and the learned Staff and academic members, to be able to witness this special Convocation Ceremony. It marks the success of the College and launches the future progress of the happy few, who will now go out to lead, in Malaysia and anywhere in the world!
Somehow the tradition has evolved all over the academic world, that a Convocation Speaker should be -an older and wiser man.
Well, looking at me, you can see that I am older. But I am not sure if you will regard me as wiser! The speaker is also expected to give the Graduands some advice. Hence, I will venture, at my own risk, to give some Advice!

My first piece of advice is therefore – don’t take your convocation for granted! Please recognise that, your Convocation is your special Day in your whole life. It’s your special Blessing. Then and only then, will you remember that your convocation, should and will give you the confidence and courage to move more boldly ahead in your own life, to achieve more and to serve your society, all the better


Secondly – It is also the right time to be grateful to our teachers, and especially your parents. They all sacrificed for you. Your parents, most of whom are not rich, struggled to ensure that you had a good education, at the highly esteemed Raffles and Olympia Colleges. I know that your devoted parents, like many of us on stage, experienced harder lives because of our care and concern for you all. Your parents struggled to give you a better start in life! Please give them all a big Clap of Appreciation! Always be grateful to your parents and teachers and to all those who have and those who will help you, along your journey through life.

Thirdly – On this important occasion, please also remember to Give Back to Society, as much as possible. It is said that it is better to give than to receive! So please, don’t be selfish. Think of others and help others, to be happy yourself! But incidentally, never give or receive huge donations that you yourself can’t afford to give yourself! Always check the motive behind huge donations!

Fourthly – The Almighty has blessed each and every one of us with unique features. Look around you. In the roughly the same 30 square inches of your own face, (5` x 6`), you have the same physical features. But the miracle is that amongst about 7 billion people on earth, even rare identical twins can look different! Think about it. You are uniquely made, with the same features, but with different characteristics and especially different DNA! By the same token you have different genes, talents, traits and interests. Hence your challenge in life would be – to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Minimise your weaknesses and build upon your many strengths.

My fourth advice is therefore – please develop your potential to the full! Build yourself spiritually, mentally and physically to the best of your ability. You want to aim to be an all-rounder, to serve yourself and your society as much as possible. This means you must strive to live up to your religious and moral principles and practices. There is no point in being brilliant if we turn out to be Scoundrels who exploit our fellow beings!

I have my personnel motto in my Autobiography. It is “Every day, I do my best and to God I leave the Rest. I can’t do better than my best, so then I’ll settle down to rest!”. You may want to adopt my motto too?

Fifthly – The Raffles Education Group has similar goals as our National Education Blue print 2015 – 2025. They both seek to make MALAYSIA an Education Hub of Excellence! We all strive to have well educated and well-rounded graduates. We want them to be innovative, critical in their thinking, practical in their application, and able to serve as leaders, in their different fields of endeavour and at varied social levels. We want our Graduands and Graduates “to make a difference”.
Yes, these goals are in the Government’s Blueprint and your Raffles Group Mission Statement. Nevertheless, we have 200,000 unemployed graduates in our country today – and its rising! Why? Because the world economy is slowing down, while unsuitable graduates, who are ill prepared for employment, are shooting up! Fortunately, the Raffles Group Graduates are not in that Unemployable category.

You are different!

Why, because you have been well equipped with Knowledge and trained to think critically and straight – and also, to communicate effectively, in Bahasa and English as well!

My fifth advice to you is – please develop your Comparative Advantage. Don’t worry about the narrow and misguided so called “nationalists”! Let them stick in the mud or croak in the well. They will do you an injustice, if they succeed in persuading you not to work too hard, or convince you that its bad to compete or ask you to forget the growing globalisation process. The Raffles and Olympia Campus has taught you to be meritocratic or quality oriented and not to think that the “World owes you a living”. Strive to do your best in life!

Sixth – Now I like to advise the Government if I may. Please focus on the future progress of our youth. Teach them to be more critical, teach them more STEM (ie , Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. But please also add another E for English! This will give our society more STEEM, to improve our relatively poor public education standards and push Malaysia forward, not backward !!

Thus, I appeal to the Government to please encourage our youth to Compete and not be protected all their lives! Those who cling to the soft ways of life will be left behind in the global race to succeed and prosper

My seventh piece of advice is – for Government, to please ensure a conducive environment to all Malaysian youth. I understand that many youth of all races, ethnic groups and religions in Malaysia, are very anxious and deeply concerned over their futures. They ask, will our society become more racially and religiously polarised? Worse still, will we become more parochial in protecting some Malaysians, at the expense of others (Is my assumption correct?).

My eighth piece of advice is for you – To influence the new directions in the Government Policies, that would affect your own futures tremendously! After all, it’s up to you to help change negative policies – of course by peaceful means! Your future is in your own hands. All your seniors have mostly undertaken their responsibilities well, to shape our country from Merdeka to the present times. We will continue to soldier on? But Graduands, we hand the Torch to you, to brighten the dark areas of our beloved Malaysia. We hope you will light the way forward and take us all to greater heights! That is another challenge for you!

My ninth advice is you do help to improve our society! You will ask – what can I do as a young graduate? My response is – please register to Vote. If you have not already done so, let it be your first civic act as a graduate and get your friends to show your loyalty to our beloved county Malaysia. Be fair to yourself. Don’t give up the struggle for a more fair and equitable and United Malaysia!

Now that we are approaching Vision 2020, can we expect more Fairness and Equity based on Class and Income status, rather than race and religion. After all, Malaysian Youth want to be Malaysians first and foremost – if they are made to feel a stronger sense of belonging.

Am I Right?

My Tenth piece of advice is – Please plan your futures carefully. Ask yourselves, what and who and where you want to be in say 5, 10, 15, 20, 50 years’ time. Don’t laugh it off. Time flies! Who knew that about 60 years ago, Justice SHANKAR and I who were debating at the VI, would be on the same stage again, less argumentative, after so long?

You see, within 5 years’ time, most of you will get married! So how are you planning for that next big occasion. Soon after marriage you will yourselves become Parents! Are you ready to set better example for your children to follow? So draw up a graph with income or happiness on the vertical line and your age and life’s milestones or inevitable happenings, like marriage, children and career, on the horizontal line.
If I sound complicated, see me after this convocation for a quick tutorial. But I hope your Lecturers have also given you some Tips on How to face the Challenges of Life and to be Happy Ever After!

Finally, after 10 pieces of advice, I better end my convocation speech, before it becomes a boring lecture! Frankly, I believe that if you take some of my advice somewhat seriously, you will benefit and enjoy a better and happier journey in your new life! at least please give my serious advice some thought!

On that thoughtful and happy note, let me wish you, on behalf of all of us, our warm congratulations once again- and a Happy and Successful and Blessed future!

And may we wish you all, all the best and – May your Dreams Come True!

Article published in Free Malaysia Today.

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