KUAMuniti – a catchphrase initiated in October 2007, and finally implemented in 2009; it was never meant to replace the original abbreviation of the club name, but instead to expand on the abbreviation to a catchphrase of sorts, thus adding value to the branding of the club. The aim was to increase the appeal of KUAM, by making it fresh, new and appealing to another generation. The play with the word ‘community’ and ‘unity’ gave birth to the original KUAMunity, mooted by Izaz Zainal and Khairul Idzham Musa, KUAM committee members in 07/08, which eventually led to the current catchphrase as implemented by Mohd Izhar Moslim and his new committee of 08/09.
Naturally, the second step was to deliberate on the design of a new logo – and it was suggested that the letter ‘M’ in the catchphrase should be highlighted, both to emphasize our Melbournian connections, and also to represent an image of 2 people of different races shaking hands and reaching out – an image symbolic of our aim to reach out to others in our mutual aim for unison.
Why embrace other races when UMNO (which KUAM is affiliated to) is about the Malays?
When the committee of 2008 were elected, the need to find a new approach to attract more members to the club was essential as UMNO and Barisan Nasional did not fare well in the 12th General Election on the 8th of March 2009.
Despite KUAM being a social club, and not a political one, this still affected KUAM. When KUAM held its annual barbecue session on the 9th of March, 2008, phrases such as “Are you celebrating UMNO’s downfall?” “People come here for the food, not for UMNO!” and also “Soon KUAM will become irrelevant” were whispered throughout the session.
It was time for a change, even for us at a micro level.
KUAM will never be able to avoid the fact that we are affiliated with UMNO, a political party known for its strong Malay ties. It is even more important to note that non-Malay individuals cannot become KUAM members, as discriminatory as it sounds. However, it is important to state that leaders and good leadership should not be elected based on race, and just because our entire committee is made up of one ethnic group, it is essential that we prove ourselves worthy of these posts, and that we will excel in our roles.
Even more imperative, we need to differentiate that despite a purely Malay membership, we do not close our events to other ethnicities.
We want to prove to people that we are worthy. We want to break the stereotype. We want to be relevant to all. We want to lead by example and show that us as Malays, are capable of many good things. Hence we encouraged more participation from non-Malays, involved the wider community in organizing our activities, and tailored the contents of our programs to appeal and benefit the community as a whole.
By end of 2008, we were able to see that we were becoming more accepted, and participation in our activities swelled in record numbers.
In 2009 with many fresh new faces in the committee, KUAMuniti was pursued with more action. The KUAMuniti.com website was created and the KUAMuniti logo was finalised – another more tangible chapter to the branding of the club.
Our activities grew by leaps and bounds as we continue to involve others in our activities, and actively continue to work together with other student clubs to promote unity.
On Sunday, 9th August 2009, a landmark and also history for KUAM as the KUAMuniti logo was launched by YBM Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah followed by the launch of the KUAMuniti.com website by YB Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.
KUAM can be proud to state that at least a third of our event participants are non-Malays in a large majority of events, something we hope to continue to encourage in our effort to become more relevant to a larger community. We can be proud of our active involvement in other club’s activities, and we can be loud and proud in our support for activities that support unison.
Best of all, we can be proud that at the end of the day, we are able to look at ourselves in the mirror and say that we have done our best.
May these efforts be continued in many years to come as we believe that a small change can make a very big difference.
And it is in our hopes and prayers that something as small as KUAMuniti can become the start of that big difference.