Race Interview

This is a rant.

They say that, there’s a first time for everything. This is definitely the first time that I got asked by a candidate interviewing for an internship position in my company, on the races of the people working at my office.

I frowned, the moment he asked me that question and asked him his ‘reason’ for wanting to know such a thing. That’s when he backed off and tried to brush it off as a non-important question, that he had no reasons for asking it and was just asking for fun.


Needless to say, I gave him a little tongue lashing. I reminded him that such a question was an extremely offensive one, even racist in nature, and that he should never ask questions like that unless he had very good reasons to do so. Such things shouldn’t be asked for ‘fun’.

I didn’t let him off that easily and pressed him for his reason and he said that he thought it important because he wanted to know what kind of environment he was going to be working in. I then asked him if he had any problems working with people from a different race, and he brushed it off.


What’s happening in our universities these days?

Words with Teeth

I’ve been getting an education in Islam, more than before, in some of our law classes. It was during our last Consti class that I learned of another common mistake made by people who do not understand the true meaning of treason.

It is quoted that the first Muslim Caliph after the death of Muhammad (pbuh), Abu Bakr, said that:

Behold me, behold me, charged with the care of government. I am not the best among you; I need all your advice and all your help. If I do well, support me; if I make mistakes, counsel me. To tell the truth to a person commissioned to rule is faithful allegiance; to conceal it is treason.

To me, that just makes total sense.

That is why I complain and fuss so much about the bad things that are happening in my country. I even offer myself to serve on government committees to help shape the direction and discourse. However, I come in a thorny package and not everyone can handle me.

I was recently asked by a colleague to help out with an overseas job application. This colleague said something to me that made me laugh a little inside. I’m paraphrasing but it went something like this: “your comments are very sharp, but they are very good.”

When I’m asked for my comments, I usually put my honest opinion forward. They can be sure of one thing – that my comments will be sincere and true. I don’t waste my time with platitudes though and my comments usually come out raw, which is why others sometimes think them sharp.

Some people think that it’s unprofessional of me to sting and hit out strongly but I disagree.

To me, being a professional means being able to check your emotions at the door. We must all be able to go into the room, trash things out truthfully, curse each other honestly, and come out of the room to share a drink after. However, there are usually plenty of people with very fragile egos in the room.

So, I must wonder whether it would be better to speak softly instead of bluntly.

Unfortunately, I’m my mother’s son and it’s been said by others that her words have teeth, so do mine I guess, and I have no intention on changing that any time soon. I would not be honest to myself if I did and that would be doing a disservice to others too.

Once I stop stinging and start lacing my words with honey, you should know that I no longer care.

Institutionalised Racism

I had a heated argument with someone recently, on racism, which reminded me of a recent forum that I attended on institutionalised racism that was such a negative experience for me that I have lost all faith and respect for Hindraf.

Regardless, I just want to write down a few items to note here.

All these people, are complaining about being victimised and being at the receiving end of unfair treatment. In one case, they claim that their situation is the way it is because their race is too weak and make excellent soft targets. In the other case, they claim that their race is too strong, and is victimised because certain people are jealous at their success.

I find it extremely stupid that these people are be asking for fair treatment while framing everything in terms of the strength/weakness of their race.

If one claims that their race is too good, one cannot also ask for equal treatment in the same breath because the two does not reconcile except to an individual. If we think that our race is superior, then we must agree to the affirmative action policies and institutionalised racism because that helps to level the playing field. Otherwise, the superior race will end up wiping out the inferior one and genocide is generally considered a bad thing.

If one claims that their race is too weak, one cannot also ask for equal treatment because their own race would be wiped out otherwise. What they are not happy with is that the affirmative action policies are not for them but for the other group. Again, this is a stupid argument because they only oppose institutionalised racism because they are not beneficiaries but if protection was afforded to their weak race, they would need it to survive.

Seriously, I think both these arguments are equally stupid.

If you claim that your race is superior, then you’re supporting the justification for institutionalised racism. If you claim that your race is inferior, you’re also supporting the justification for institutionalised racism. The only way to do away with the justification for institutionalised racism is to do away with racist views ourselves.

PS: One person even attributed my personal success to my race. That would totally ignore the amount of hard work that I have put in and sacrifice that I have made throughout my life to get where I am today. I took it as a personal insult and told the other person off.

London Riots

What’s gone wrong? I don’t know. Will it spread? I hope not.

I don’t seem to see any tear-gas nor water-cannons in the news – just lots of ambulances and riot police. I guess that the austerity cuts must be getting to the British police who may have run out of tear-gas canister. I’m sure that our Malaysian police would be more than happy to lend them some.

Murder by Teaching

I just had a student accuse me of bloody murder and trying to kill them all, in an email. I must be doing something right at the university.

The students are just thoroughly not prepared for a teaching style like mine – where I actually treat them like adults. I give them the open space and freedom to explore and do whatever that they think is right.

For one, although I am teaching engineering I ask some fairly open-ended and argumentative questions in the tests and exams. In the mid-term test, I asked them to classify and justify whether an FM radio was a digital, analogue or mixed system. The default answer given by most engineers would be – analogue. However, some students answered – mixed – as large parts of modern FM radios are digital. I accept both answers as valid but only if it was justified.

For another, in their semester project, I asked them to design a small part of a digital system – either the transmitter or receiver portion of an RS232 or SPI module. I even pointed them towards the largest code repository in the world – OpenCores – encouraging them to use the many examples there. I did not even specify how they should implement it nor how they should demonstrate it as I left it to them to decide for themselves based on their skills and capabilities.

If they are really good, and can successfully implement it in hardware, good for them. If not, they can always demo it to me in software. Or even worse, if they fail to implement it completely, they can just show me what they’ve got in software. Heck, I even limited their project reports to under 6-pages!

I have even shown the previous lecturer the stuff that I get them to do in order to get some feedback on my teaching work and we both agree that the work is straight-forward and simple. I’m not expecting any of them to do rocket-science.

Honestly, now I get accused of bloody murder.

Some of these kids have no idea how much I am actually trying to help them learn and think. Well, I guess that teaching is a noble profession for a reason – it’s a thankless job. All I hope is that these kids will think of me fondly when they start to face some real problems in the future.