PETALING JAYA: Should Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) be renamed Arshad Ayub University? Some believe it should, since the late Tun Arshad Ayub, who passed away on June 14, was not only one of the country’s revered educationists but also its first director.
International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation professor at International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Prof Datuk Dr Ahmad Murad Merican, said renaming UiTM could achieve the objective of changing the mindset of many that the institution is “keramat” (sacred).
“For decades, the alumni and Malay community have had the tendency to believe that UiTM is sacred and therefore, nothing can change it. They are trapped in this mindset, which is regressive.
“Renaming UiTM to Arshad Ayub University embodies who he was and this is not reflected in the views of the alumni. Not renaming the institution would be an injustice to the man who had undertaken one of the most massive re-engineering projects in Malaysia.”
Ahmad Murad said Arshad created a new identity for the Malays and the nation as he developed a new intelligentsia in post-1969 Malaysia.
He said Malaysians also needed to assess the evolution of his thinking on UiTM, one of which was his suggestion that the institution open its doors to non-bumiputra while maintaining Malay privileges.
“This mindset has to change. Malays must learn to move on without a crutch. The renaming of the university would reflect this.
“One thing that I gathered from my interaction with Arshad was that he always wanted the Malays to think effectively and become knowledge creators and problem solvers.”
Ahmad Murad said Arshad made radical decisions. But now, the Malay community has “deradicalised” themselves via UiTM with the fear of change in a changing world.
He added that the Malay community should not be conditioned to be dependent on government help. UiTM’s continued “sacred” values of staying the way it is now will further lead to the irreversible dependent attitudes and conditions of the Malay community.
Former UiTM Alumni Council Malaysia chairman (2014 - 2018) Datuk Latt Shariman said the impact of renaming the institution would be far reaching as it would be named after the man who created its DNA.
“We can always return and reflect on the purpose of its establishment just by understanding Arshad’s vision and mission through his very name. It would be impactful as Arshad’s famous motto, ‘impossible is possible’ is enough to inspire.”
Latt said the government and UiTM board of directors could begin the movement to rename the institution by forming a special policy committee to revisit the establishment of UiTM, focusing on Arshad’s thinking.
“The committee could recommend the name change and make other recommendations based on the man’s salient thinking, since it could become the institution’s future brand. It should be put to Parliament to amend the Universiti Teknologi Mara Act to (facilitate) the name change. Parliamentarians can debate and discuss the significance of the change and celebrate Arshad’s contributions.
“Name changes are not new and have been done previously, such as the institution’s first name Rida Training College, later changed to Institute Teknologi Mara and now, UiTM.
“So, why not Arshad Ayub University?”