A Quick Guide to the CUMaS Committee

This post is about the Cambridge University Malaysia Society (CUMaS). If you’re not interested in this sort of thing, you might want to close this post and stare at your reflection in the mirror while wondering about your life goals.

Also, I’ve never gotten used to the fact that the society’s name is a giant grammatical error.

But anyways. Some of you first years, and maybe second years, may have noticed that the AGM is coming up and that our overlords are stepping down. This is your opportunity! Being in the committee is some of the most fun you will probably have in Cambridge (unless you do anything else for fun). You also get to run the events your way, gain some experience in organising stuff, and generally everyone in CUMaS looks up to you. I used to be Publicity Officer, and though we had work to do, it was always about organising fun, entertaining events for people, so it’s never a stressful thing. Your fellow committee members are likely to become some of your best friends, and you get to run events your way!

So if you’re on the fence about whether you should go for it, I’d recommend that you definitely try to run for the CUMaS Committee. I believe the details are here: http://www.cumas.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Details-on-Committee-Elections-2014.pdf

I’m sure you want to know what position you’d want to run for, and what your job entails. The following guide will likely be completely useless, so please talk to the current committee, or past committee members, about the position.


The Guide:

As you are likely aware, one of the main aims in the CUMaS constitutions is “to promote, uphold and represent the interests and welfare of Malaysian students in Cambridge University in particular.” As a committee member, you will likely meet this goal by holding lots of food-related events throughout the year.

Also, this upcoming year is CUMaS’s 20th Anniversary! We expect the next committee to organise something spectacular, and more importantly, something involving lots of food.

The roles in the committee (in AGM voting order) are:


The President’s job is to keep CUMaS running smoothly. He has an exciting, usually insane, vision for the future of CUMaS. He is able to manage small children during committee meetings as well as direct them towards accomplishing his goals. He must be able to look important during meetings with people from outside CUMaS, and must be able to give speeches at talks. He must also be good at giving the other committee members lots of work to do.

A good President:

  • Ensures that society members are kept well-fed, especially during winter.
  • Has experience managing kindergarten or primary school children.
  • Is able to get things done even when no one wants to do anything.
  • Will tell everyone in his life, in his CV and in his eventual job that he was President.
  • Is handsome and/or beautiful.

Salary: One dinner per year, paid for by CUMaS membership fees.


The Secretary is also generally in charge of ensuring CUMaS runs smoothly. She takes minutes, collects membership fees and actually gets most of the work done. She usually organises the first event of the year, the Garden Party. She is in charge of the hotly contested elections at the AGM and ensures that no vote-buying, vote-stuffing or blackouts occur. She is also acting Vice-President in the committee, which looks better on a CV.

Note: due to traditional psychological gender and height biases, the Secretary is usually female and short.

A good Secretary:

  • Assists in ensuring the society members are well-fed.
  • Makes sure the committee actually runs.
  • Can type really, really, really quickly at meetings.
  • Brings snacks to all committee meetings.
  • Welcomes freshers to CUMaS by asking them for money.

Salary: One dinner per year, paid for by CUMaS membership fees.


The Treasurer has one of the more straightforward roles in the Committee. He collects money from sponsors, ensures sponsors actually pay us, manages the CUMaS bank account, frequently uses the stupid authentication machine every time he logs into HSBC’s online website, ensures that members pay for every event on time, checks Google Drive every day to make sure people have actually paid, sends e-mails to members who have yet to pay, manages the budget for each event, stops committee members from asking for more money for each event, reimburses committee expenses, handles tickets for termly formals, organises the Malaysian Food Feast (including venue searching, food sourcing, volunteer recruitment, volunteer assignment, budget and entertainment), deals with unexpected financial crises, handles payment for stash, makes nice Powerpoint presentations for the AGM, pays for the expensive annual committee dinner, keeps the price of kangkung low and several hundred other tasks which randomly pop up.

A good Treasurer:

  • Minimises costs involved in feeding society members.
  • Is competent at multivariate calculus, time series calculations, statistical modelling and arithmetic.
  • Loves Google Drive.
  • Must ensure that enough money is saved at each event to pay for the committee dinner.
  • Enjoys reminding friends, acquaintances and strangers that they haven’t paid yet.
  • Is translucent about CUMaS funds.

Salary: One dinner per year, paid for by CUMaS membership fees.

Publicity Officer

The Publicity Officer ensures that information flows through CUMaS efficiently. This mostly involves sending out a lot of e-mails. She is also in charge of the website and Facebook accounts, and must be able to meet monthly targets (1,000 views per week and 100 likes per post respectively). She is usually in charge of communication with other societies and their events, and must ensure that, for once, Mastana does not clash with MNight. She is responsible for ensuring sponsor’s activities are well-publicised at the bottom of the e-mail.

A good Publicity Officer:

  • Informs society members about events involving food.
  • Is skilled at using lame puns.
  • Has a strong Bahasa Malaysia vocabulary for CUMaSKini.
  • Is comfortable about regularly sending out last-minute e-mails at 4am.
  • Ensures MNight is sold out.
  • Likes spending their day on Facebook.

Salary: One dinner per year, paid for by CUMaS membership fees.

Entertainment Officer

The Entertainment Officer entertains people. He is generally in charge of making sure each event is organised, and is definitely in charge of each term’s formal. His major task for the year is ensuring the success of Malaysian Night. He is traditionally the director or producer of the MNight, and is able to inspire a ragtag group of students to produce a play (or maybe, one day, a musical) worthy of West End. He is comfortable with destroying his social life and happiness in the eight weeks leading up to MNight.

A good Entertainment Officer:

  • Is capable of inventing innovative methods to keep society members well-fed.
  • Books one Trinity formal a year.
  • Ensures the Garden Party has a bouncy castle.
  • Is an experienced director, producer, scriptwriter, backstage organiser, lighting manager, songwriter, and dancer.
  • Can provide enough debauchery to satisfy the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eight, ninth, tenth and eleventh-year medics.

Salary: One dinner per year, paid for by CUMaS membership fees.

Sports Officer

The Sports Officer organises the various sporting events CUMaS is involved in. She arranges for weekly sporting events in Michaelmas term. She is in charge of begging members to join any sport in the Nottingham Games. Most importantly, she ensures that a comprehensive training program is implemented after the Nottingham Games in preparation for the Oxbridge Games. She is usually the manager and coach of most sports teams, and is allocated a multi-million pounds budget for player transfers during the winter and summer breaks.

A good Sports Officer:

  • Keeps players well-fed before, during and after training.
  • Plays football, basketball, badminton, tennis, squash, Ultimate, table tennis, netball, volleyball, chess, checkers, Scrabble and carrom.
  • Never loses to Oxford.

Salary: One dinner per year, paid for by CUMaS membership fees, unless they lose in the Oxbridge Games.

Welfare Officer

The Welfare Officer ensures that members’ general welfare needs are taken care of. He is everyone’s best friend. He is their shoulder to cry on and their confidant. He helps freshers by settling them into Cambridge life, giving assistance where needed, and warning them about St John’s. He conducts the marriage ceremonies for CUMaS couples and provides family planning services. He is in charge of the Freshers’ Banquet, the Freshers’ Camp and the £50 MNight Haribo budget.

A good Welfare Officer:

  • Reduces society members’ stress levels low by keeping them well-fed.
  • Is immune to the effects of Week 5.
  • Will be there for you when your job’s a joke, you’re broke and your love life’s DOA.

Salary: One dinner per year, paid for by CUMaS membership fees.

General Committee

There are also three (not six!) General Committee positions, as well as up to four appointed positions with no voting powers. Although these are general roles with no specific title, committees have usually assigned a specific position for each committee member. These change from year to year, but here are some of the more common roles:

  • Graduate Representative: She tries to bridge the gap between undergraduates who are too busy having fun and postgraduates who are too busy doing work. She also organises dinners for postgrads.
  • Sponsorship Officer: This is the most important role in CUMaS. He convinces people to give money to a society for the purposes of feeding the members.
  • Technical Officer: She ensures that the technology is in place for all of CUMaS’s food-related operations. Preferably proficient in HTML, CSS, AJAX, WordPress, C++, Java, MATLAB, R, FORTRAN, BASIC, Flash, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, iTunes, DOTA / DOTA 2, Google-Fu, Printer Voodoo and photography.
  • Logistics Officer: He ensures that food is bought, cooked and transported to each CUMaS event. This is the second-most important role in CUMaS.
  • Socials Officer: She assists in organising social, food-related events together with the Entertainment Officer. She must enjoy clubbing and socializing with the opposite sex.
  • Alumni Officer: He reaches out to alumni to organise fancy buffet lunches and dinners where they can reminisce about the best days of their life.
  • External Officer: She organises the Outreach program, where current students remind prospective students that Cambridge is still the most highly regarded university among traditional Asian parents, and that the food in Cambridge isn’t that bad.

All of these roles are usually rewarded with a salary of: One dinner per year, paid for by CUMaS membership fees.


Good luck, and remember, above all else, to have fun!

Note: if you haven’t noticed by now, this post is satire. It’s only 50% true. Even the title is a lie, it’s not quick at all.

Mobile Patriotism

My Negaraku proposal:

Make Negaraku the default ringtone of every mobile phone sold in Malaysia.

A policy which solves many issues:

  1. Every phone call (and every cinema visit) will instill patriotism.
  2. Easier than fixing difficult problems (corruption, crime, education, etc)
  3. Obesity rates will decrease tremendously. Entire offices will stand up every 10 minutes; in public areas you’ll never sit.
  4. Easy to spot terrorists: they aren’t singing Negaraku
  5. Fun for all ages.

Could possibly extend to SMS tones and alarm clocks. Must investigate in future. Maybe I’ll join MPPC 2014.

Cries of the Silent

I’m in a self-existential crisis. Do I even exist?

According to Twitter, the answer is yes… and no.

Try performing a search on Twitter. As long as you select “All tweets“, you’ll see mostly everyone in the world who has typed your search phrase in a recent tweet. The only missing tweets are those who’ve set their profile to “protected”, and any tweets from (public) account @jiannmeng.

Which is of course, my account.

Here’s an example: as part of the Otak-Otak Internship Program, we have been bribed coerced asked to tweet about the program as much as possible. Preferably with the hashtag #2013OtakOtak. You won’t find any of my tweets there.

Even worse, searching a username finds you all tweets by that person, and everyone who mentioned that user. Compare the searches for, say, @victordonttweet and @jiannmeng. Evidently Twitter thinks Victor is more important than me, which is proof that there is an error in their search algorithm.

What does this mean for me?

1. I’ll never be a Twitter celebrity. My well-crafted, intelligent, funny tweets (all most of them) will never be seen by the general public. Only those who follow me will ever taste the drops of wisdom I produce.

2. I will never win anything from a hashtag competition. No free smartphones or vouchers for me.

3. My very existence continues to be questioned. I exist on Twitter yet my voice is never heard publicly. But existence on Twitter is, by design, characterised by the tendency to shout very loudly about everything without regard to its actual relevance. I have done, still do, and will continue to do that, but I will never reach the upper echelons of the Twitterazzi.

Note: I wanted to complain about this on Twitter, but…

You. You Are Annoying (No, Not You)

General Election 2013. We all know what happened; if you don’t, there are plenty of articles, reports and status updates on the Internet which are written by people far cleverer than me. I’m not touching this topic even if you have me a twenty-foot titanium rod and heavy-duty gloves.

One of the many threads running through my head now is a small thing: the youth. We all think, let the grown ups get old, when this generation replaces them, things can only improve. But if there’s anything the last week has shown me, this isn’t really true.

I speak to you. Actually, it’s more like rambling.

You run on emotions. You’re quick to cry out, quick to accuse, quick to do whatever it takes to ensure victory. You don’t think your actions through. You think the most pointless of gestures is a contribution to the country. You preach to the choir. You seek problems, presume guilty before innocence. You are fuelled by emotions.

Please. Learn to be a little colder. Things happen, and you’re not always in control. Don’t waste your precious time and effort, and your fellow friends’ time and effort, with stupid, futile actions. Be logical. Investigate. Be skeptical of everything. Understand your enemy. Understand thoroughly who you support.

And stop complaining. Please.

Obviously I’m not talking about you specifically, dear reader. After all, you are never guilty of these things, right? It’s the other people who need to improve.