BY Jaspal Singh
TRONOH, MALAYSIA - New graduates have been advised to build up a solid and upright character when they start to venture into the real world.
Instead of focusing only on how to make a fast buck, they should work hard at developing such important qualities as honour, dignity and integrity.
In short, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he wanted to see fresh graduates striving to build an image that would be praised by anyone who came in contact with them.
"Do not use your new found intellectualism and professionalism to rob or cheat others. Don't use your acumen to find ways how to make a fast buck by destroying others.
"You should instead focus your efforts first on building an upright character," he said at the ninth convocation ceremony of Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) yesterday.
Dr Mahathir, who is the chancellor of the university, said the economic problems faced by Malaysia and many other countries since 1997 showed the destructive side of intelligence and intellectualism unfettered by upright character.
He said the suffering faced by millions of people around the world was caused by educated people who used their education and skills to make easy money for themselves at the expense of others.
"They learn the weaknesses in the system and then manipulate them for their own benefit without care for others. Of course, their cunning schemes cannot last long and it would be discovered. But, by then millions of people would have become their victims."
Also present were Petronas president and UTP's pro-chancellor Tan Sri Hassan Marican, rector and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Kassim and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali.
Dr Mahathir also presented scrolls to more than 500 graduates in the morning session as well as the Chancellor Awards.
The recipients of the awards were Hanisah Abdul Halim (gold), a chemistry graduate from Kuala Lumpur; Ng Jia Wyen (silver), a civil engineering graduate from Johor; and Mohamad Assad Abd Mughni (bronze), a business information graduate from Indonesia.
During lunch, Dr Mahathir met Tuan Mohd Irwan Tuan Daud, who at only 98cm is the shortest person to graduate from UTP.
Irwan, from Pasir Putih in Kelantan, received a second class upper degree and told reporters his height never posed a difficulty but instead made him cultivate more friends.
He was happy to have been selected to study in UTP as a Petronas scholar and had recently gone for an interview with the company for a job.
Irwan, the eldest of two children, was accompanied by his mother Cik Azma Cik Husin, 42, and grandparents Tuan Yaakob Tuan Man, 74, and Tuan Embong Tuan Kechik, 73.
His father died when he was five years old.