Malaysian Academic Award Recipient Dedicates Speech To Deceased Friend
Receiving an award from the university during the convocation ceremony is certainly a way to end one’s academic journey on a high note.
But it was a bittersweet affair for an award recipient in Malaysia, who decided to dedicate his acceptance speech to his deceased friend instead.
What made the incident more poignant was that his friend’s story addressed flaws in the local education system.
His speech has since gone viral, with many praising the message and the graduate’s courage to deliver it.
Award recipient’s friend became depressed after rejection from programme
The graduate delivered the speech at the Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM) convocation ceremony recently.
Nhavin, the man behind the speech, had taken to the stage to accept the Royal Award for Education by his university.
The former deputy chief of a Malaysian political party’s youth wing, Thiban Subramaniam, later shared a clip of his speech on X.
Very loud and clear! I am proud of Nhavin, the receiver of Anugerah Diraja in UTeM who boldly voiced out against the impartiality and politics in the Malaysian education system.
Government has changed, and leadership also has changed but our fate to get fair and equal… pic.twitter.com/Ne5flBbq3U
— Thiban Subbramaniam 🇲🇾 (தீபன் சுப்ரமணியம்) (@Thiban_ben) November 19, 2023
Nhavin started by telling the story of his friend, whom he met in high school and was of Indian ethnicity like him.
“He was smarter, more mature, more intelligent, and much more talented than me,” he recalled.
Both of them aspired to get into the Malaysian Matriculation Programme, which is a one-year pre-university preparatory course.
However, Nhavin’s friend’s dreams were cut short when he did not make it in. According to Nhavin, it was all because his friend scored one less ‘A’ than he did in the SPM (Malaysia’s equivalent of the O-Levels).
Aside from that, they had almost similar qualifications.
The rejection hit Nhavin’s friend hard, and he allegedly felt that it was the end of his life.
He then fell into a depression, thinking that he was “not enough”.
Some students allegedly entered programme despite having worse grades
When he first entered the programme, Nhavin was shocked to discover that some students had the same — or worse — results than his friend.
He thus surmised that academic qualifications were not the only deciding factor in gaining entry into matriculation.
Nhavin then went on to reveal that his friend is no longer alive.
However, he believed that if his friend had been given the same opportunity, he would have been the one delivering the speech instead.
From here, Nhavin segued into a call to make the local education system a merit-based one, instead of a quota-based one.
For context, Malaysia’s matriculation programme has a 90% quota in place for Bumiputera or native students, with only 10% of enrolments allocated to Chinese and Indian students.
Award recipient says quota-based system is a tool by political parties
Nhavin called out the quota-based system as a tool introduced by political parties to divide and separate the people.
Meritocracy, he said, was the only way to see a “united and fair future” for Malaysia.
Additionally, he said that he worked hard to be there in order to represent minorities, who are often silenced.
As such, he hoped that the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education will hear his speech.
In ending, Nhavin shared a powerful Tamil quote: “Our birth may be an event, but our death should be history.”
Indian politician voices support for award recipient’s speech
Mr Subramaniam accompanied his repost of Nhavin’s speech with a caption voicing his avid support.
First off, he praised the graduate for taking a bold stance against the Malaysian education system’s politics and impartiality.
He also echoed Nhavin’s sentiments, saying that while the government has changed, the opportunity to get fair and equal education remains unchanged.
Following that, he implored an end to the education system’s practice of putting race above merit, and said he will continue to fight for the cause.
He then wrapped up his caption by stating that education is wealth and that it should be for all.
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Featured image adapted from @Thiban_ben on X.
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