Thinking Allowed

By Mariam Mokhtar

Muhammad Fakhruddin Hj Safian ShuriMuhammad Fakhruddin Hj Safian Shuri, who is in his early twenties, is a final year student reading Environmental Science at Nottingham University. Besides having concern for the environment, the charming young man from Teluk Intan, has a passion for reading and has set up a website http://ohbuku.com in which he reviews books and recommends good reads.

When Ipoh Echo caught up with him in Nottingham, Fakhruddin said, “We need to care more for our environment, instead of just giving priority to development or to becoming a developed nation. We must not be too materialistic. We must learn to protect our natural environment.”

He explained that more environmental activists come from the west, than from Asia or Africa, because westerners have experienced over development or whilst chasing money through development, may have noticed that uncontrolled development has led to degradation of their environment.

Reading Environmental Science at university came about by accident. He said, “I applied for the JPA scholarship, to read Chemistry, but when I was doing my ‘A’ levels, I had a change of heart over my university course subject.

“JPA was very understanding. They agreed to the change, as long as I did not choose a social science study course. Before settling for Environmental Science, I had contemplated reading psychology; but that was before I realised that Environmental Science has a great future in Malaysia.”

The young Perakian who will graduate this summer was full of praise for Nottingham. He said, “I like Nottingham as it has a good Malaysian community. There is a nice mix of Malays and Chinese, just like in my hometown of Teluk Intan.”

He described his introduction to the British culture. “I came here about two-and-a-half years ago, but I was not at all homesick.”

His independence and ability to cope, despite being thousands of miles from home, is probably because he went to boarding school, Sekolah Berasal Penuh Integrasi (SBPI) at Sabak Bernam, in Selangor. He did his ‘A’ levels, at Sekolah Sri Cempaka Cheras in Kuala Lumpur.

He said, “ SBPI is like a sekolah agama in one sense, in that most of the pupils are Malays and Muslims.

On the other hand, the school is different from a religious school, because in Forms 4 and 5, we had to take one of three options; Technical science, Religious science or Pure science. I am from the religious science stream.”

Fakhruddin said, “My secondary school was co-educational. When I first came to England, I did have a slight culture shock. In the first year, I had to familiarise myself with the local culture and the local accent.”

“It was not difficult but it took a little time. Most of the shows on Malaysian television are from America. Their English is different from the Nottingham accent. The British are well mannered and polite. They help you at the door. They say “please” and “thank you”. They are quite hospitable.”

He lamented the absence of “courtesy to others” in our Malaysian culture. “When I did my ‘A’ levels in Cheras, I noticed that people were rushing around everywhere. In that sense, people are very materialistic. This exhibition of being kiasu, is probably because their time is money.”

Fakhruddin stressed that the hospitality shown in Malaysia would be different to that of England. He also said that regional differences exist and that London hospitality would not be the same as that of rural England.

Talking about his future plans, Fakhruddin said, “After graduating, I would like to do a postgraduate degree in science and technological studies, possibly in KL.”

The young man showed concern for his hometown, “During my summer holidays, I noticed much housing development at home, but I doubt if these are carried out according to the law. I wonder if the natural environment is being considered. Teluk Intan is a sensitive area with regards to the environment and it is prone to flooding. I have had the opportunity to study in England and I have been exposed to the various aspects of environmental concerns.”

With the finals over by summer, Fakhruddin said that he was looking forward to his parents attending his convocation ceremony in July 2014. Despite Nottingham being notorious for crime, Fakhruddin said that he does not feel threatened and had no problems with his personal security. “I have good experiences of living here and I am very happy; but I have heard that a few of the students’ houses have been broken into.”

His advice for potential Malaysian students studying overseas, or in England, this autumn, was simple.

He said, “Enjoy your life to the fullest. Don’t waste your potential especially when you have been given the opportunity to study abroad. You have money, so use it for a meaningful purpose, to buy books or to gain useful experience travelling and studying other people’s culture. Get involved in societies and activities, because you may not get an opportunity like this once you return home, or when you start work.”

When asked if he had travelled widely during his time in England, he said, “I have visited Spain and Istanbul but I would like to visit more countries. My final examinations are imminent so I must concentrate on my studies.”

The Ipoh Echo would like to wish Fakhruddin much success in his exams and his future.