“Talk big and Think big” – Prof. Syed Arabi

By Souhaila Ahmed Elyass Hussain and Hasnah Abdul Kadir

GOMBAK, 24 December 2017 – IIUM.fm radio programme on Insights into Research and Publications in the University recently featured one of IIUM’s leading academicians and among the most revered in the country – Prof. Dato’ Sri Dr. Syed Arabi Bin Syed Abdullah Idid. He is currently the Chair of Ibn Khaldun and was the fourth Rector of IIUM between 2006 to 2011.

Unlike most notable communication scholars, Prof. Dato’ Sri Dr. Syed Arabi started his career as a journalist for the national news agency BERNAMA before joining the realm of academia.

His career spanned from being the Registrar of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), which made him the Secretary of Senate and the Council Member, and the President of the Commonwealth Association for Education in Journalism and Communication, to later being the President of the Institute of Public Relations Malaysia (IPRM).

As he was introduced on the radio station earlier this month, he walked listeners through his journey in research. Prof. Syed Arabi’s main interest is in public relations and political communication and his chosen field was therefore a direct result of his journalistic background with BERNAMA.

The professor explained that he spent many days following political campaigns of previous Malaysian Prime Ministers with a group of reporters from different media outlets. His experiences on the campaign trails sparked his interest in political communication. As he put it, he enjoyed writing about politics – not being in politics but writing about it.

He then started his academic career in UKM. From the beginning of its establishment, UKM was research oriented. Prof. Syed Arabi continued to show that the university offered grants and incentives to academic staff to pursue research. He stressed that research was a vital part of any institution of higher learning, especially one that is as large and youthful as IIUM.

Titled ‘Talk Big and Doing Big’ his talk was a reflection of this point. Asked to elaborate, he clarified that IIUM is not a small university, it was established over 30 years ago and it now has over 1,800 academic staff. It also has several campuses across the country and could easily be considered as a large and matured university.

“We have to think big to move towards being one of the best universities worldwide,” he highlighted.

IIUM also has its own research centre, which supports research initiatives of the academic staff. Engaging in research, he said, is part of the professional development of academicians stressing that “teaching, researching and consulting” are the core responsibilities of academicians.

Apart from being a teaching university, he stressed, “we also have a role to play as academicians to do research and consultancy”. Additionally, he cited the examples set by UKM, University of Malaya (UM) and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM); their functions are to teach, to do research as well as to provide consultancy and community services.

Prof. Dato’ Sri Dr. Syed Arabi’s interview can be summarised as one that reminds researchers of their important functions as academicians and scholars to “think big” and “do big” as IIUM is part of a well established and comprehensive institution, and in doing so, it will move forward to become a leading university globally.

The programme was the third series of the episode on IIUM.fm initiated by the Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences (KIRKHS) Research Committee. ***

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