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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Those letters P, H and D

Knowledge is an asset to anyone. A person with knowledge is a person who is respected and looked up in a society.

Having knowledge is one thing. To brag to have knowledge is another thing altogether. It is very unfortunate to have people who claim to be knowledgeable, and yet these very same people have quite an arrogance and ego to match. To them, they are the only ones who are correct and that everyone else is wrong, or worse still everyone else is an "idiot". Over the years, I have had the misfortune of meeting such people.

To me, the more knowledge one has, the more humble he/she should be.

Another "species" of "knowledgeable people" I have met are those who are so into titles and awards. I have met those who insist that all the letters they get from their various degrees be written at the end of their names. I have also met those who, with their professorships and PhDs, would be willing to go all out lobbying for datukships and honorifics. And when they do get their datukships, we would then have to be very careful in ensuring which comes first, the professorship or the datukship.

Again, at the end of the day, for me, the titles are immaterial. It is what they can contribute to the betterment of the society that is more important. And that is what really counts.

Then, there is this other unfortunate type who claims to have PhD, and yet in reality they don't. A doctorate, to these people, is like an accessory one wears in society. One can buy or one can claim to have one even when one has not finished the process of obtaining the doctorate. These are very pathetic people, in my eyes.

A few years back, when I was still working at IKIM, I met a rather well-known motivator with a penchant for bright-coloured jacket and tie. Everyone calls him "doctor" referring of course to his PhD. During tea break, we sat on the same table, and had the opportunity to chat. I asked him where he got his PhD from. He answered, "UK." Of course, that got me excited because I was there before, and I queried further, "From which university?" He threw me a university's name that I have never heard of before. Innocently, I said, "I was in the UK for five years, and I have never heard of this university. Is it new? Is it in England or Scotland or Wales?" This motivator suddenly became pale-faced. He looked very uncomfortable with my questions. He just said, "Oh, it's one of the universities in one of those smaller islands under UK." I was like, "Yeah, right." His answer was far from convincing, and lucky for him, he was "rescued" by another person at the table who changed the topic of conversation. A couple of years back, there was an uproar in the media when it was revealed that this motivator was one of those who "bought" their PhDs online.

There are also those who actually did study for their PhD, but for one reason or another, did not complete their studies. Yet, they have the cheekiness to use the title "Dr" before their names.

In my line of work, I am fortunate to have met many true knowledgeable people. These are people who have tremendous knowledge in their field, and yet they are very humble and approachable. They do not show off their academic achievements, and they definitely do not go after honorifics and titles. Fine, if people give them honorifics and titles, that's another issue, but they would never buy or lobby for such worldly things.

To me, all these serve as a reminder so that I will not forget who I am. I am currently doing my PhD, but I am doing it out of sheer interest, and also as a challenge to myself. I will not gain anything materially after obtaining my PhD. It is just for self-satisfaction, and hopefully I can contribute something back to society after this. That is my aim and prayer. I hope the process of writing my thesis, although far from easy, will go smoothly, insya-Allah.

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