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Shahrin Albakri the politician – university version

December 15, 2011

Well, it’s one of those nights again. Haven’t had the insomnia bug for some time now. So if it comes tonight, I really can’t complain. I wrote about me being the late bloomer in school, how everything fell into place rather belatedly for me. That was the school version. Moving on, I had quite a few wonderful experiences during my university days as well. I went to University Malaya’s law faculty which I think was the best law school in the country then (I hope it still is now). You see, I had set my mind in becoming a lawyer since I was in standard 3. I have been dreaming since then in the hope to get to the promised land of being a lawyer. Now that I am one, I get a great degree of satisfaction. There’s always room to improve though.

Now, I was in the science stream in VI. Which was not really in line with my ambition. Probably I just wanted to test myself (no offence to the guys taking the arts stream). Despite doing quite well in my SPM, I wanted to study law in UM. The problem is, UM admits only post STPM students into its law faculty. I was intimidated at the thought of going for STPM but I quickly made up my mind. Had a few offers after SPM but I turned them all down. I remember having a heated argument with Abah who was absolutely against my wishes to continue with my secondary schooling. I persisted. Thinking back, I think I took a very big risk in taking STPM. You know there’s this perception about STPM being a very difficult examination. So I was quite the risk taker then.

Fast forward 2 years, I had completed my STPM and was accepted to UM’s law faculty. I was overjoyed. Finally my gamble paid off. Had I not gained entry then, my life would’ve been a lot different now. Who knows what I’ll be. As you know, they hold elections in university campuses to elect student representatives. UM is no different. There, the political movement consists of 2 groups (don’t think we can call them political parties as such). One group represented the Barisan Nasional, a multiracial entity. The other one flew the PAS flag, a slightly left winged entity. For some reason, during my second year I decided to delve (rather deeply) into the political arena. I didn’t join any of the political party-affiliated entities. I contested on an Independent ticket. There were 4 candidates in all. 2 for BN, 1 for PAS and then me. The faculty will be electing 2 representatives. So I had my work cut out for me.

I was lucky I had a superb campaign machinery by my side. A few of my good friends were in it with me. We used to hold regular nightly meetings to strategise our move, canvassed for the seniors’ support, made appearances at lecture theatres, that kind of thing. We even had posters of me! You know, the “Undilah” posters. We had a nice design, went to the photocopy shop and had 500 copies made. The thing I remember most was the night we put up the posters. I bought packets by beehoon and asked a few girls to make fried beehoon. So we announced that we will be putting up the posters one night and that there shall be a fried beehoon party. The turnout was magnificent. Everybody who came were in good spirits. The posters were put up in no time.To top it all off, we had a wonderful fried beehoon party afterwards.

We intensified our efforts come election day. We rented a van to ferry students to the faculty to cast their votes. UM law faculty had 400 students. So it was quite an endeavour. Having put in all that effort, I was nervous. Have I made a good enough impression to get elected? I remember waiting anxiously outside the Dewan Tunku Canselor during the counting of the votes. It was like the real thing, with candidates’ representatives and proper vote counting. Finally the result was announced. I was one of the 2 elected! And with the highest number of votes to boot. All the effort had paid off. Credit to my campaign machinery. So that night we made the journey all the way to Kajang and had the famous Kajang satay (on me). You should see the camaraderie and also the joy on everybody’s face.

Now, we did I get the funds for the whole election adventure you ask? This I am very proud of. The other candidates apparently had funding from the real BN and PAS. When I told Abah I wanted to contest in the elections, he gave me RM500 and told me something that I will not forget until I die. He simply said,  “Don’t lose”. That was it. It spoke volumes about Abah’s character and the faith he had in me. True enough, I didn’t lose. I hope I’ve made him proud.

I served my term for a full year. It was a good year. Back then I harboured ambitions of joining politics after I graduate. Well, I did. For a while anyway. Got sick of it. But that will be another story for another day.



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