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.

Summer Crushes

You know, I don’t crush easily.

Sure, there’s always been someone I’ve had my eye on for a while. I’ve heard about them, sometimes met them, sometimes just hearing about them from other people. But there’s no intimate close relationship, is there? It’s sort of unreciprocated, always just out of reach, and anyways you’re not really my type.

But you, Jane, oh, you seem different.

Let’s back up. We had dinner today. Ok,not dinner, just a date. It’s not my fault! You said we’d just have refreshments, something light, so I had dinner just before. I never expected you to make dinner! I really felt bad not being able to eat much of the food you prepared. I guess it wasn’t the best start between us. I was slightly late, out of breath after cycling, not looking my best. Ahh look at me, I’m rambling.

Anyways! Dinner! I loved the little mini-pies, and the chocolate brownies. You really know what I like, that’s for sure. And the wine. That was pretty good.

Ok, this is getting awkward. Shall we just be honest? Suck up all the awkwardness, let’s just talk. Get it all out there.

You’re quite unlike everyone else. There’s the hot ones, like Meryl and Morgan, who are just so popular. They’re rich, they’re famous, they lead the glamorous Hollywood life. And of course they attract guys like fleas. But I have a feeling that that’s not the kind of life I’d want to live. Keeping up with you 24/7, never resting, always trying to please you with more money, more money, more money. I’m not that kind of guy, probably.

Then there’s ones like you. Perhaps I’m just naive, and you’re one of them. But you seem so much more laid-back. There’s less pressure, you’re not chasing obscene amounts of wealth and fame like the others (though you do agree with me that having lots of money is always a good thing). We click pretty well too, if you don’t mind me saying. Maths, economics, computer stuff, we like it for its own sake and for its applications, and that’s pretty appealing to me.

I’m not really saying anything, am I? The crux is this: you don’t pretend. Or at least, I don’t think you do. The others, they say they love intelligence over style, smarts over looks, etc., but is this really true? Perhaps, perhaps not, but I think when you say it, you mean it.

That’s why this blog post is up. My own insecurities. I know you like your London guys. And wow, are those Londoners smooth. They have so much experience in wooing people like you. Like the people at LSE; they’re groomed from day one to make you like them. They have the smarts, the skills, the knowledge on how you behave. And how do I compete with them way back here in Cambridge? I’m hardly the best guy in Cambridge either. How do I make you notice me…

Then there’s the fact you’re local to London. You told me you were born in New York, but you’re in London now. And that means that no matter what happens, after being in cities like that, you’d never come to Malaysia, would you? I love London, it appeals to me like no other city does. But I’m from Malaysia, and I’m really, really comfortable back home. Do I really want to have a long-distance relationship like this? Some people can do it, I’m not sure I can. Although it is really, really tempting. I don’t mean any offense (hmm, that statement is almost always false), but you Westerners are just more appealing than Malaysians. I won’t elaborate. This is a public post, and I don’t want to offend anyone, but if you are offended, I think you’ll realise that what I’m saying is true.

This whole thing is a new game to me. Getting out there, meeting people, having dates like this. Really, this is the first time I’ve been so bold as go approach you, instead of waiting for someone to take interest in me. And I really liked it. So despite everything I’ve said up there, no matter how much I complain, I really do like you, and I want to meet again soon.

So Jane Street, please read my CV and cover letter and let me know if I can intern there over summer. Thanks.

-Jiann Meng

Tripos (a.k.a. The Exam Game)

I haven’t posted for a really long time, but there’s a good reason. Ever since I got into Cambridge, I’ve been playing this game called “Tripos”. I’ve since learned that it’s actually quite a popular played all around the work with different names (I think most of UK calls it “The Exam Game”), but I’ll call it Tripos since I’m used to it. Anyway here’s how it goes:

Rules of Tripos:

  1. Divide the players into two teams: “Tripos” and “Undergrads”.
  2. The Undergrads are blindfolded and placed in the middle of the field. The Tripos stands in a circle around the Undergrads.
  3. Study Phase: The Tripos throws as many books as possible at the Undergrads in 5 minutes. If an Undergrad catches a book before it hits the ground, he is deemed to have “studied” and may keep the book. Any book unstudied may be retrieved and thrown at the Undergrads again.
  4. Tripos Phase: After 5 minutes are up, the Tripos move 20 steps away from the Undergrads. The Undergrads remain blindfolded. Undergrads throw their studied books at the Tripos. Each hit is worth a degree point.
  5. The game is over when the Undergrads run out of books.

Nobody wins. But anyone who doesn’t get at least one degree point can never play Tripos in Cambridge again.