"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Although there was much ill-feeling about last year's NUS fee hike, in the end most students accepted it as unpleasant but necessary, coming as it did after several years of static fees.

The latest round, though, seems to have struck very raw nerves, coming on the heels of the last one - we've now had 2 fee hikes in as many years. Once again the hike has been dumped unceremoniously on everyone as students are taken for granted, being a captive market.

Further aggravating everyone is the fact that NUS has obviously spent so much on their new University Hall administration building, complete with glass facade, Koi pond and metal sculptures, as well as the year-long centennial celebrations (one reports that at some celebratory events, there is a free flow of alcohol).

Student anger is palpable from the IVLE Forum (login required) set up by NUSSU to discuss the issue. As of time of writing, it's on paper 9th most active forum on IVLE with 804 posts, but really the 2nd most active one, since 7 of the more popular forums contain posts from past semesters (the runaway crowd favourite is, of course, the Used Textbooks forum with 7603 posts - more than twice the runner up which, I feel compelled to note, I helped foment).

The most interesting ideas so far come from Farhan:

Topic: NUSSU Constitution Article XI – Call for Extra-ordinary General Meeting – Please append your name

Message: Dear fellow students,

I refer you to the National University of Singapore Students’ Union Constitution, a copy of which is attached. In particular, we draw your attention to Article XI, clauses 4(c) and 9(1), pertaining to the call and convening of an Extra-ordinary General Meeting (EGM).

Many students have been shocked by the sudden announcement in the tuition fee increase, a reaction that can be verified very clearly from the large number of responses in this forum. Ironically, some have pointed out that responses to this forum illustrate the very idea that NUS students are not capable of anything more than verbal protests.

Thus, we appeal for action in the most sensible and rational way possible. We appeal for your names to be appended below to call for an EGM within 14 days, involving union members (all undergraduates) and NUSSU. There will not and shall not be any formal vote of no confidence as this is disallowed under the constitution if done in an EGM. The agenda is solely to discuss the fee hike, events preceding it, and the best course of action in an issue that concerns not only students’ welfare and finances, but also our own student voice. To face the administration, we students need to be united first, and fast.

We need your support in the following:

1) Append your name below, in support of this call for the EGM. We (Farhan Ali and Godwin) will send the letter with your names (at least 45 members) to the Honorary General Secretary of NUSSU, who shall convene the EGM within 14 days of receipt of the application.

2) Ensure 200 union members (every undergraduate in NUS is a member) are present during the EGM (to be announced by the Honorary General Secretary) in order for it to convene.

We seek your common decency to refrain from personal attacks and cynicism in this thread (or any other in this Forum).

Fellows students,
Farhan Ali
Godwin Tang

[Ed: Regardless of whether this is successful, I have a feeling the constitution will be changed quietly soon.]

Any NUS students who might be reading this post are strongly encouraged to append their names to the thread "NUSSU Constitution Article XI – Call for Extra-ordinary General Meeting – Please append your name farhan b ali 16/02 2:33" in the IVLE "Fee Hike Response" forum. This forum may be accessed by logging into IVLE and clicking on "Fee Hike Response" in the right sidebar:

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Topic: Personal letter to Mr Quek, NUSSU President

Message: Dear Mr Quek,

This is not a personal attack. It is an appeal to the moral duty of a leader.

Any leader who has integrity and moral courage will know he should resign if he betrays the people he is supposed to fight for. The only moral course of action for you and your administration is resignation. Put in a new office or an interim management. In the meantime, I myself am willing to volunteer for any working committee to study and challenge the university’s decision. Academic year 06/07 hasn’t started; it might not be too late.

Sadly, Mr Quek, your office will forever be known as the union office in one of the top universities in Asia, that allowed unilateral back-to-back fee increases amidst multi-million dollar celebrations and projects by the university. This has severe ramifications beyond mere dollars and beyond our generation of undergraduates.

It is a question of leadership and moral courage. Of students and their place in a university.

Farhan Ali
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