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As a mature student with a supposedly "distinguished" background, I had
advantages. The fellows of St. John's treated me as if I were one of them and extended
me rights to dine at high table which I utilized fully. My professors knew my ability
and recognized my potential and generally left me alone. I appreciated the freedom
to do what I liked and to be recognized as I wanted. During my two years I made one
or two incredible friendships that sill remain strong.
Like Daim, Tun Suffian Mohd Hashim and Justice Harun Hashim and James Puthucherry
among others, wanted me to take up law at Buckingham (a crash two year course) but
Fauzah dissuaded me because she feared I might not be able to cope with the pressure
in spite of assurances by the law professor who had talked to me for half an afternoon,
that I would make it.
Why did I choose Cambridge? I recall I never did agonise over the choice of university
in a way others did because I have always wanted to go there. Once at Cambridge,
I fell into a group of post-graduate students who cared about studies and enjoyed
pondering the world, its events and our participation in it! They were fun to be
with and we enjoyed Cambridge tremendously Cambridge professors are some of the best
in the world, intellectually stimulating and politically exhilarating and original.
In retrospect, returning to school turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever
made. I thank Mahathir for sending Daim to persuade me to return to school. At Cambridge
and Harvard, the experience of education and not the education itself made it a worthy
I used to envy friends who went to university. Now I know why going to university
is one of the most fulfilling life experiences and I urge fellow Malaysians to attend
college no matter how late in life. I sympathize with people who decided to forgo
college or did not have the opportunity. They really missed out something special.
Return to school and rediscover yourself. It is worthwhile. Take my word for it.
The choices of what to study and at which colleges or universities to do it can seem
endless, ponderable, even frightening, but do take a plunge. Pursue your own interests.
I have always wanted a career in journalism and politics and I am in both fields.
I know I won't make much money but I enjoy what I am doing.
Diplomacy is no stranger to me because as Razak's confidant I was quite involved
in it. Most people fancy that they can write. I am no fool to think that good writing
is easy .Writing is no joke: it's hard work, a little talent and a little bit of
Friends say I am not supposed to be where I am; I should be somewhere else. Well,
I believe that I am where I am supposed to be. For now at least.
(Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad is our Special Envoy to the United Nations.)