Coffee Break: Let’s set up a university hub

This article first appeared in Capital, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on February 18, 2019 - February 24, 2019.
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A high-powered meeting is going on in the office. We are looking at expanding, maybe branching out, possibly into the education sector.

Baron Rothschild once said to “buy when there is blood in the streets”. To put it another way, in the midst of turmoil come opportunities.

Okay, maybe there wasn’t any blood, but there were certainly bruised egos.

At the meeting, some sombre chap says wisely that there is nothing shameful in not having high-level academic qualifications as honesty is more important in politics. I almost choked and spat out my roti banjir. It is the only time this writer has seen “politics” and “honesty” used in the same sentence with no ulterior connotation.

I suddenly feel like saying, “Mr McGee, don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry,” siap with finger pointing and all.

The meeting turns hostile and the arguments get more heated.

Yours truly suggests the setting up of a university called “Kambridge” while others push for “Oxferd” and “Harverd”. A few, mostly the younger chaps, make a pitch for Masachusets Institut of Teknologi, also to be known as MIT. Yes, we are trying to make a fast buck selling degrees, Masters qualifications and even PhDs.

The idea came about because of the recent political mud-slinging following the revelation that one MP had gone to a “fake” Cambridge in the US and not the more established UK institution. We actually don’t know what the brouhaha is about. Have you seen the number of PhDs among politicians?

Well, we know of at least one friend who did the thesis for one politician to get his doctorate. Come to think of it, we also know of the grandson of the controlling shareholder of a giant conglomerate whose thesis was done by his dad’s finance people.

Have you ever wondered how it is that the children of many tycoons make it into prestigious universities? Not Kambridge or Cambridge in the US, but the real thing. They can’t all be super smart, can they?

But in the current case, it is worse as the culprit is from the Foreign Ministry. Perhaps if he were in charge of some luar bandar portfolio, or, say, FELDA settlers, it may not be so bad.

But why are police reports being lodged against him? Do the complainants expect the police to do anything? Can the police even do anything?

The fellows mooting for MIT are also pushing for a township, Bosten, to be set up, much like a university town. But those of us who are older, approaching 50 and more, are lukewarm to the idea. We don’t want to spend the last few years of our lives working our butts off. (Not that we worked very hard before. In fact, most of us spent a lot of time, well, writing stuff like this.)

Anyway, the idea for Bosten came from an earlier Coffee Break many years ago, which was about how Malaysian companies come up with fancy names like Armanee and Ritze.

So, we could have a university town, Bosten, which houses the Masachusets Institut of Teknologi, also known as MIT, and perhaps even other unis, depending on how Mat Salleh they sound.

And since we are going down this route, we could even reverse engineer the whole process and set up a town, say, Helsinky, then form a university there, Helsinky School of Ekonomi.

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