UM lecturer’s life’s work goes up in flames

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KUALA LUMPUR, 28 Ogos — Anggota Bomba dan Penyelamat melihat kesan kebakaran Fakulti Ekonomi dan Pentadbiran Universiti Malaya hari ini. –fotoBERNAMA (2019) HAK CIPTA TERPELIHARA

Universiti Malaya senior lecturer Dr Mohammad Tawfik Yaakub is still reeling from the massive losses due to a fire earlier this week.

He lost important documents and personal belongings during the fire which destroyed one of the university’s oldest buildings.

Mohammad Tawfik, who started his stint as a political science lecturer last year, said it was “traumatising” for all the affected lecturers – many of whom had just joined the varsity.

“My birth certificate, marriage photos, thesis, PhD dissertation and documents since my primary school days were all destroyed.

“The fire also damaged my new laptop, my second mobile (work phone), faculty desktop, two of my personal printers and other equipment,” he said, adding that most of the items were kept in his office, thinking it was a secure place.

Built in 1969, UM’s Block H10, which houses the academic office (policy and higher degree), administration office and lecture rooms of the Faculty of Economics and Administration, caught fire in the wee hours on Tuesday.

In a statement, UM said the fire occurred on the second and third floor of the block at about 1.15am.

“There were no injuries or loss of life. However, the fire destroyed office equipment and personal belongings of many lecturers.

“Investigation into the cause is being carried out by the Fire and Rescue Department,” it said.

All affected lecturers have been relocated to the second floor of Block H11, which is a new building.

Mohammad Tawfik said most of them were taken aback when the news broke.

“I found out through the news and Whatsapp messages from my colleagues.

“We are still coming to terms with our losses. Hopefully, the management would allow us more time to prepare our lecture notes for the new semester, which is starting in two weeks.

“We lost all our teaching materials, books and past year papers. These are the most valuable items for all academicians,” he said while struggling to maintain a positive attitude despite the difficulties in starting from the scratch.

In 2017, Mohammad Tawfik obtained his PhD in Political Studies from UM.

Saddened by the incident, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said he was thankful that no one was injured.

“As a former lecturer, I shared the losses of affected lecturers. It’s not about material things but the data and research done over the years.

“I believe the management is doing their best to assist them,” he said during a visit to the site yesterday, accompanied by UM vice-chancellor Datuk Abdul Rahim Hashim and Kuala Lumpur Fire and Rescue Department deputy director M. Murugiah.

Maszlee also handed out a personal goodwill donation to aid the repair cost, estimated at some RM2mil.

“The fire affected 21 rooms and 19 lecturers. Repair works may take up to four months,” he said, praising firemen for their quick action in putting out and preventing the fire from spreading.

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