JANUARY 4 — I had an online encounter yesterday with a UIA student who did not seem to understand the concept of academic rigour.
Tweeting from the account @IIUMsterdam, the student glibly stated: "semua words english diambil dari bahasa Arab. English takda sejarah" (All English words are taken from Arabic. English has no history)
When pressed for a source, said student replied it was from the book Malayonesia written by Mat Rofa Ismail. Upon being asked why Mat Rofa, a math professor, would be writing about linguistics history, the student said that Mat Rofa was "strong in metaphysics."
I might sound like an old person but the question must be asked: "What are they teaching kids in school these days?"
One thing academics has in common with journalism is the discipline of verification. A single source is not enough, and said source must be vetted.
Unfortunately after peering into Mat Rofa's activities and publications, I am of the firm opinion that he not be allowed to talk about anything not related to maths. There is no evidence he is qualified to write about history, anthropology, linguistics or whatever else he seems to be going around sharing his opinions about.
A quote of his particularly disturbs me: "Sejarah yang rasmi tidak semestinya benar, dan sejarah yang benar tidak semestinya rasmi.” (Official history might not be truth, and true history might not necessarily be official."
You know who else says things like that? Holocaust deniers.
In this information age, it becomes even more important for our youngsters to be able to make sense of it all; to be able to properly tell the difference between made-up nonsense and actual plain facts.
Apart from spreading non-facts about language, this unofficial UIA Twitter account seems to be rather anti-English, even Tweeting about how it was nothing to be proud of to be fluent in English. It wasn't just the Tweet but other people's reactions that bothered me -- one girl even thanking the account for the Tweet.
I will say this a thousand times: English matters. If it didn't, other countries wouldn't bother making it a part of their curriculum. The most popular pop culture phenomenons wouldn't be in English and neither would most tech. English is the first or base language for most popular software applications.
To have university students openly championing ignorance is a terrible thing. It is time that we start questioning universities when they begin peddling not pure knowledge but religion as well.
Like politics, religion has no place interfering in places of learning. Pardon me, but why is this trend of adding religious spice to everything only getting worse? It's certainly not improving our standards.
Only thing I can say is, to wannabe metaphysics professors, please stay in your lanes. And to language-rejecting students: don't blame the English-speaking competition who will get hired over you.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.