OPINION: Daphne Iking was probably trying to boost the morale of underprivileged students with her latest message on Twitter. Good for her.
The popular TV personality and actress said Jan 12 that she took on three jobs to finance her tertiary education in response to a growing number of students raging over their high living costs.
Daphne, a Sabahan, with both a Bachelor’s and Masters degrees in communications from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) tweeted that she had worked as a cabaret dancer, a part-time tutor and also a cigarette sales promoter to cover her college tuition fees, food and accommodation costs while a student.
“I was a cabaret dancer, part time tutor, and a sales promoter for BAT to pay for both my degrees, rent and food,” she wrote on her Twitter handle @DalphCLPT, with the Bahasa Malaysia hashtag topic #mahasiswalapar, which translates to “hungry undergraduates” in English.
According to Malay Mail Online, the hashtag topic has been gaining traction on the microblogging network in the last few days, following media reports of some public university students too cash-strapped to afford three square meals a day.
Last week, Malay daily Harian Metro reported a UKM student had ruptured her intestines due to poor eating habits as she only had RM30 to spend on food each week.
Since then, many students have come out with similar complaints.
Of course, Daphne Iking is a smart and talented girl and backed by her out-going personality, she should have no problems about approaching the right people and getting part-time jobs.
Not every student possesses Daphne’s personality or talents. Think of a poor kampung girl whose first experience of life in a city was at her university.
With few friends and a quiet demeanour, this poor student from the kampung would not know what to do when he or she runs out of money for meals. It’s possibly very true too that many of them might not even have RM1 left at times to buy a packet of Maggi mee too. And they would be too embarrassed to ask for help from others.
Oh yes, Daphne, your good looks help too. Let’s be honest – it really helps. Would a ciggie company employ “Ugly Betty” as a sales promoter?
Sure, Ugly Betty can be a part-time tuition teacher or tend to children at a kindergarten. But the question here is that there are many students who are just not yet cut out to be on their own and hence, they suffer in silence like starving.
But we should all thank Daphne for her word of encouragement to students. But it must be acknowledged again that not everyone is as smart or as talented as Daphne.
Here, it’s only fair to say kudos to Higher Education Minister Idris Jusoh who has promised to look into the issue personally so that no student will go hungry.
The minister also pointed out that there were various options and avenues available to undergraduates to cover their food bill, including university welfare groups and on-campus part-time jobs.
But imagine a university with 2,500 students. Will there be enough part-time jobs on campus for them? That is the question.
I’m quite appalled, however, with the statement by Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who said that the reports of starving students may have been sensationalised.
“I’m not saying all students live easy and no one suffers, but I don’t think there is any student that is starving,” he said.
No, I don’t expect someone who has never gone on an empty stomach before to believe that a student in our university could be starving.
I think that KJ should know this: 50 underprivileged students out of 50,000 in our Malaysian universities who are starving is bad enough.
Probably KJ does not think so but I believe most of us do.
There is nothing sensational about starving and certainly, there is nothing to sensationalise about not having money to buy meals. This is called poverty, Khairy! – The Ant Daily