Monday, 4 May 2009

Go Straight to Jail

Spent the weekend on a (former) Penal Island, the Alcatraz of Malaysia. Locals (those of my generation and older) will be familiar with the threat - "Send you to Pulau Jerejak". Jerejak Island was until the late 1990s a detention camp where they keep criminals or suspected criminals. I am not sure, but I think this is also where they send the gangsters and secret society types under restricted orders - the police don't have enough evidence to convict them but "know" they are bad influence on society so have to quickly lock them up without due process. The detention camp has since closed and there has been talk to turn it into a tourists paradise. Or a tourist trap.

Well, to be fair, the students loved the place. They shared three to a room and these rooms are spacious. Actually, they were supposed to share 4 to a room but 11 students didn't show up despite confirming by phone. Hhhm, I think they should miss a turn and "go straight to jail". The students also enjoyed the food and the line dancing and the environment around the Resort. Lots of big trees have been retained. But construction is as usual shoddy. So when it rained, you have walk through puddles of water. And with the continuous stream of rain channelled down on to the rocks just outside my room window, I thought the sky had fallen down. And the rain washed out our outdoor programme on sunday afternoon. I think the students were very disappointed.

Ah, not only the no-shows who should go to jail. The Resort guys should also go to jail. When we were negotiating, they promised that transport would not be a problem. 60 people one shot, can handle ah? No problem, we have this and that; priority given to guest. So 8.30 am came and there was still no boat. Ah, ferry out of service, have to use smaller boats. By the time the "captain" left the Penang Island Jetty, it was already 9.30 am. I gave the guy a loooong piece of my mind. I said I am not recommending their resort in future.
Janet didn't waste time getting the students to get to know each other as we waited for the boat. This is called ice-breaking

Only because of the boat? Oh, my beef is more than that. Already my staff had visited earlier and found out that the promised WIFI only covers the ballroom area. We were promised WIFI is everywhere. "I want it in writing", I said. "No need, it's everywhere" - the Resort's sales rep responded. How about discount for the SPA? I give you 30%, to all USM participants. And then I discover from the web that EVERYONE gets 30%. So, not very honest about it. Hhm, we want smaller breakout rooms. Hhhm, Hah, emm - long story short, we can use the ballroom only, partitioned into two, that means two groups to one partition. After the first session, the manager was called. Can you do something about it? It's too noisy. He thought for awhile. Sorry, I can't do anything. There are actually two more smaller rooms. Sorry, cannot help. I went to take a look at the rooms. Nicely arranged with mineral water bottles (definitely not in my seminar room) on the tables. But nobody around. Maybe already reserved. BUT nobody is using it when we wanted it.

Talking about water. There was a huge plastic container (which was cover with a red cloth because the outside itself looked shabby) filled with water in the ballroom. I had given instructions - "I don't want to see any water in plastic bottles". And no plastic wraps on the food. Well, I was the first to drink. I didn't suspect anything. And then Abe filled up his tumber and saw particles. So we called management. OK, they took the who container away. Brought in one with a clear glass usually used for juice. Guess what. The first glass full by Lean Heng was cloudy (and stayed cloudy). The next glass showed brown particles in it. And we were told that the water was actually from mineral bottles! (not good huh? they don't understand why we don't want to use water from plastic bottles). So, back it goes. And out came several metal jugs with water in it.

One of my colleagues had a horrific experience (and she told the manager over breakfast - "I am so sorry about this", was what the manager could offer; and a huge freshly cut papaya). She had a sore throat. Called up reception, 4 or 5 times over a period of one hour, just to get some salt to gurgle. She got some "salt" from one of the staff. When she gurgled, it tasted funny. She's very sensitive and upon examining the crystal discovered it was MSG! Eventually, a technician who came to fix the air-con went to the kitchen and brought a salt shaker. Guess what? It was empty. Poor thing, she had to open up the bottle and tried to scrimp for the few grains of salt. Horror story huh?

Well, the bottomline is, it is not designed for seminars and workshops. So, please lah, don't sell seminar and workshop packages! Team-building, maybe - if you don't washed out by heavy rain.

Janet asked me in Langkawi - "why do you blog". "It's my release", I said. I guess also some people seems to like reading my blog. One of them in the picture is a fan of my blog.

Oh, what about the workshop itself? How did it go? Over lunch, I called a couple of students over and asked "So, how do you feel after listening to VC?". She said, "I feel like what we have done in the workshop is useless". My next post will address this.


Hidayah Miftahul Nur Husna said...

about the workshop,i think it is not useless as we can express what we want..and we can explain the real situation what happen in the campus,and we can share with others experience and opinion..what I see,most of the problems are from Kubang Kerian Campus,and we halp them a lot..

Jacknaim said...


Dear Prof,

For me, in term of listening to the voice of student, i can give 5/5 rate.

However, by looking at the objective and paperwork you sent, i'm quite disappointed with it contents.

For me, the agenda of apex is not being fulfilled.

In the paperwork, we were told about blue ocean strategy in which i understand it as creating a new path,avoiding the competition and creating the demand.

However, during the camp, we just talking about the traditional problem that occur.

However, it is still a good program.

And, i dont think we need highly expansive or elegant place for the camp to be performed. as long as it's comfortable, than it's okay.

Good luck your your next work. All the best

Hidayah Miftahul Nur Husna said...

yes..i agree with naim..we dont need to go to a resort,because in Islam,we are trained not to have expensive lifestyle,as our prophet Muhammad says,if we have more money,it is better to give to the needs person,I feel not comfortable thinking of the children suffer in palestine,but we can have a very nice food ang place to stay,maybe we can do trips to stay with poor people..

Lik Meng said...


First thank you to Hidayah and Naim for the feedback about the Jerejak meet
The question at the end of the post was "Was Jerejak a was of time?"

I take Hidayah's suggestion that we should use the money to help the poor instead. And Naim's concern that we did not touch on Blue Ocean.

The road ahead is long. We have a Roadmap and that roadmap recognises that we will have to scaffold our effort to reach people-centred sustainable development.

I am working hard to get the consultation paper ready and I have every intention of getting students' reaction to the proposal.

Meanwhile, you are welcome to write and tell us. You can write on my blog if you like so everyone can share. This is only the beginning of engagement.

Thank you all for being part of the effort.

Lik Meng

Kok Leong said...

For me, I don think what we done is useless, its jz we do not use the blue ocean strategy. Mayb student do not know what blue ocean is about. What we focus is on current issues face by student. But VC is more concern on the future of student, n the future of USM. There r still many student don know what blue ocean strategy is all about, so go n read up the book. To save money buy the book, u can read it online. Go to google website n type blue ocean strategy, u can read it for FREE.

mimie-KeHiJaUaN AuRoRa-mizah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
aurora hijau said...


'Action speak louder than words!'but..if there are no words..there will be no action!..

Useful or subjective..from a hat..yes it is useful..from another also can be useless..not about the effort..we r very appreciate what you have done to listen to our voice as the student..the effort is always useful..

But..if there is no solve all the 'lapuk' or 'tradisional' will be useless..coz the problems will be a 'ghost' to ourselves..

Back to reality..learn from the history..and step to the ocean strategy must be packaged with clear thinker!..never think with only a hat..!

learn from nature,

wei-chiat said...

Days have passed through and still we are hoping for a miracle to happen. Not quite realistic though.

Its time to wake up and embrace the challenges that has been put up in front of us.

I may have to say that in the workshop, there are pros and cons. Some how i think that we are not really focused in the main business when we are actually there. But i must agree with Prof that the journey ahead is longer than it seems.

But then i would like to acknowledge Prof for his initiative to put up with a student-led workshop which brings all minds alike into an arena where we can discuss freely.

I am here to HELP. To achieve the impossible (since nobody has done it before). Feel free to let me know if you need any help in the future, Prof.
Till then lets pray for the best.