Moving mountains

WHEN you put together passion, drive to develop oneself, vision for a brighter future, as well as charisma and leadership calibre, you'll get a catalyst who can impact the world for the better. And one such person is Thaqif Abdul Rashid.

Despite having spent 11 years living and studying in Australia, he loves Malaysia passionately and is actively involved in making a difference, especially among youths.

In 2016, a friend invited him to join the organising committee of the second National Aspiration and Leadership Symposium (NALS). A year later, the 26-year-old is now the director of NALS 2017.

You did most of your schooling in Australia. Why did you choose to do your first Bachelor's degree in Mass Communications in UiTM Malacca?

We moved to Perth, Australia because my mum was doing her PhD there. When it was time for my tertiary education, she had already finished her studies. I was 15 or 16 then so, if I were to return, I'd have to take Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM). I knew I'd have done horribly, hence I decided to jump queue and entered university at 16 instead.

From your experience, how do Malaysian youths differ from their peers in Australia?

I believe that both groups of youths should be more exposed to the other and learn from one another. I feel that Malaysian youths are more involved in things and like to voice their opinions on current affairs, especially at the mamak. Australian youths, on the other hand, discuss the intellectual side of things, rather than about people, but they are too relaxed for my liking.

However, Malaysian youths should constantly work towards being more knowledgeable. Knowledge and education are two very different things. Many say that with the Malaysian education system declining in quality, we are becoming less smart – I totally disagree. Education is a system that one follows, but knowledge is something that every individual chooses to acquire and grow in different measures.

What is your goal for NALS?

I realised that there's a lot of news and information that can be misleading because – let's face it – youths nowadays don't read newspapers and just accept whatever they see on social media. What I hoped to achieve with NALS is to open the minds of young Malaysians, so that they become more open-minded and critical, and our society can change towards building a better Malaysia. The goal is to reach that kind of societal mindset, in which diversity is understood and celebrated, and our minds are united.

Why are you so passionate about Malaysia?

When I was living in Australia, I found myself defending Malaysia a lot. And in recent years, what with all the tragedies and negative press, I kept hearing bad remarks about Malaysia and I couldn't stand it. I feel that Malaysia has done many great things; it's just that we're not good at highlighting them because of the multi-layered conflict that's going on internally. Hence, we've forgotten about what makes us special – our diversity, which is my favourite thing about this country!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I'd be 31 by then, so I see myself married (laughs). But on a serious note, I want to have a decent job and to open a consultation firm. Ultimately, I want to motivate people. I like the idea of giving good vibes to people and making them change their way of life for the better. Therefore, I'm constantly developing myself to become a more positive person.