Participants gave the second Nilai UC-MoHe Future Leaders Camp the thumbs up.
“Leadership starts with your immediate social circle. Be a leader in your family, among your friends and colleagues, and in your respective organisations on campus. Do not plan for a life as a political leader for the sake of a post or position,” implored Tan Sri Rafidah Abdul Aziz during her keynote address. She was speaking to the participants and organisers at the second Future Leaders Camp organised by Nilai University College (Nilai UC) and the Ministry of Higher Education in collaboration with the World Youth Foundation.
Rafidah Aziz was among the many high profile speakers who had been invited to broaden the perspectives of the students who had gathered at the Nilai Springs Golf and Resort Hotel for this three day leadership camp. The theme for this years’ camp was ‘Innovation in Leadership: A Focus on Gender Issues’. The keynote speaker had divided her speech into two segments – leadership and gender issues.
On the former, the Member of Parliament for Kuala Kangsar’s message was clear and simple. True leaders do not jostle for positions nor do they seek out posts for the simple prestige it brings. They are people who spread positive messages and lead others to do the right thing. “What is the point of having someone who skips classes just to campaign for a leadership post on campus? That is not leadership material. That is just a rubbish leader,” she said.
On the latter, Rafidah noted how times have changed from when she held a cabinet portfolio. “I do not believe in quotas these days as it places an unnecessary glass ceiling. It may have been necessary a few decades ago but today when there are more women than men in universities, let it be. The women are there on merit,” said Rafidah to huge applause from the audience which included students from 37 public and private universities and colleges from all over the country. There was also a sizeable international community with students hailing from Uganda, Pakistan and Nigeria.
Students had travelled from as far as Sabah and Sarawak to attend the second annual camp in anticipation of an event that would enlighten them on the subject of ‘gender issues’ and to also attend talks which will mould them into future leaders. These talks included a session with the Dale Carnegie Trainers as well as a grooming session with Chapter One Asia.
Though these sessions were lots of fun with uproarious laughter at the speakers’ many anecdotes and presentation styles, the participants were completely serious for the Parliamentary Styled Discussion on Higher Educational Institutions Gender Neutrality Act 2010. Students were given the chance debate and to suggest amendments to the proposed Act. The session was overseen by Fahri Azzat, a human rights lawyer, who said he was impressed by the enthusiasm displayed by all the students.
“I am very impressed by the level of presentation. I can see a lot of thought and effort have gone into the process. I hope that this parliamentary session was enlightening for all the participants,” said Fahri.
Other speakers who shared their knowledge and expertise during the camp included Dr Tan Yoke Sing (President, Balai Ikthias Malaysia), Rita Reddy (Senior Gender Adviser, UNMIT), and Prof Dato’ Dr Sharifah Zaleha Syed Hasan (Principal Research Fellow, Institute of Ethnic Studies, University Kebangsaan Malaysia). Each of them brought a unique perspective to the arena and their impact can be measured by the number of questions the participants bombarded each of them with. The fact that all the speakers were surrounded by participants after the sessions underlined that their talk did leave a lasting impression on the audience and many were keen to discuss the issues further.
During the closing ceremony, Nilai UC President, Prof Emeritus Tengku Dato’ Shamsul Bahrin applauded the participants for their keen awareness of current issues and hoped that they would take greater notice of gender issues from hereon. He also looked forward to next year’s edition as the Ministry of Higher Education had proclaimed the camp a success and would look towards making it an even bigger event next year.