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Scouting for talent
Mahbob Abdullah | 11 Jan 2019 00:30
I had often passed the campus of Universiti Putra Malaysia or UPM, along the highway near Serdang, Selangor. I could see meadows and ponds, and behind the fence were cattle grazing, a beautiful rural scene. But I had not been through the gates other than for seeing some friends, and now I was in the auditorium of the Faculty of Food Science and Technology to give a talk.

UPM has been famous for many years since it opened in 1931, when it was called the School of Agriculture. It fed the plantations with very able students. I had met many over the years, and they could not help talking about the tough training, getting their hands dirty, and how lecturers saw to it that they were up at the crack of dawn to tend to the plants and the cows and calves, and cleaning the pens. They would get an earful if they did not do their work well, and the lecturers had their own way of finding out. Many of those students had become leaders in the plantation industry.

Some of the figures teaching them were Tan Sri Basir Ismail who later became chairman of Kumpulan Fima Bhd. The school expanded its courses and became a college and in 1973, Tan Sri Rashdan Baba became the first vice-chancellor when it had its first students as the University of Agriculture. The studies were expanded further. Later, I met another vice-chancellor, Tan Sri Dr Syed Jalaludin Syed Salim, who had his training in veterinary science in Pakistan. With more subjects to keep up with the times, the university changed its name to Universiti Putra Malaysia.

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