PROUD OF GROWTH

New Straits Times - - News -

Dr Datin Zuriati Zakaria, to share their early univer­sity ex­pe­ri­ences.

These vet­er­ans got to­gether last week at UKM for a stroll down mem­ory lane, as well as a catch-up ses­sion.

A prom­i­nent ex­pert in the field of physics, As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Dr Koh Aik Khoon is not only a UKM pioneer, but also some­one who has de­voted his en­tire ca­reer to the univer­sity, lec­tur­ing on physics up to his re­tire­ment.

Re­call­ing his first day at the Lem­bah Pan­tai cam­pus on May 18, 1970, Koh said he en­tered with mixed feel­ings as UKM was an un­fa­mil­iar name to most.

“I am glad to note to­day that, what be­gan with only 192 stu­dents and three fac­ul­ties (Science, Arts and Is­lamic Stud­ies) has since grown to over 20,000 stu­dents, 13 fac­ul­ties and 14 re­search cen­tres in Bangi,” said Koh, who com­pleted his Bach­e­lor in Science ma­jor­ing in Physics in 1974.

Koh was spon­sored to con­tinue his master’s in Univer­sity of Bath and sub­se­quently ob­tained his doc­tor­ate in Univer­sity of New South Wales. He then re­turned to UKM to be­come a physics lec­turer from 1982 un­til 2012.

UKM was es­tab­lished a year af­ter the May 13 in­ci­dent, and many stu­dents were wor­ried that the fric­tion among the three main races would be brought into UKM.

“Sur­pris­ingly though, there was a time when I was in­vited to join the prayer at the surau.”

As for Zuriati, she said al­though all of them had taken dif­fer­ent paths, she was happy that they all still kept in touch,

The mother of three, who is mar­ried to fel­low UKM pioneer Pro­fes­sor Datuk Suki­man Sar­mani, said the univer­sity had gone through mas­sive trans­for­ma­tion from the time she stud­ied.

Zuriati, who was also spon­sored by UKM to com­plete her master’s and doc­tor­ate abroad, served in UKM upon com­plet­ing her PhD and mar­ried Suki­man, a nu­clear science ex­pert and col­league.

“At that time, there were only two uni­ver­si­ties around — Univer­siti Malaya and Univer­siti Sains Malaysia, and both were us­ing the English medium un­til later.”

Zuriati noted that as a proac­tive mea­sure to over­come short­age, the univer­sity de­cided to pro­vide schol­ar­ships for stu­dents who grad­u­ated with ex­cel­lent re­sults to go over­seas for fur­ther stud­ies be­fore be­ing em­ployed by the univer­sity.

Cur­rent Trans­port Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Dr Liow Tiong Lai, she said, was also a UKM Alumni.

Other pi­o­neers who made a name for them­selves are poet Ad­junct Pro­fes­sor for Media and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Stud­ies Asia EUniver­sity Pro­fes­sor Dr Asiah Sarji, Op­to­elec­tron­ics-physics ex­pert Dr Ramli Jaya, and writer and botanic ex­pert Dr Datin Rukayah Aman.

PIC BY ASYRAF HAMZAH

Pioneer stu­dent Pro­fes­sor Dr Koh Aik Khoon hold­ing a pho­to­graph of stu­dents.

PIC BY MOHD AZREN JAMALUDIN

Sales­girl Sam Ke Ting at the mag­is­trate’s court in Jo­hor Baru yes­ter­day.

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