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Enforcement 101: Question On Dubious Foreign Student

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(Question: Doesn’t it strange for someone who does not understand English to fly thousands of kilometres to enrol into a foreign university that teaches in English? Image source:

TheStar says:-

An Iraqi national pursuing a doctorate degree at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) who was charged in the Jawi magistrate’s court here claimed he did not know English or Bahasa Malaysia.

The case was then fixed for March 23 so an Arabic interpreter could be found to translate the charge.

Hamood Shehab Hamid, 45, was charged with reckless driving and causing the death of a 27-year-old postgraduate student who was riding a motorcycle.

He was charged with committing the offence at the traffic lights near the main entrance of USM in Jalan Transkrian, South Seberang Prai district, at about 9.45am on Feb 11.

He was charged with driving a car in a reckless and dangerous manner which caused the death of Fadilah Abdul Halim, a student at the same university.

Hamood, who is doing his doctorate in electronics engineering, claimed he could not speak or understand English or Bahasa Ma­­laysia.

Magistrate Ahmad Izham Ali fixed March 23 for the case to be re-mentioned with an Arabic interpreter. No plea was recorded yesterday.

Pakatan Rakyat’s Lim Kit Siang asked:-

Can you believe it? A PhD student in Universiti Sains Malaysia who cannot understand English or Malay!

What medium of instruction is the student using in USM?

USM website states:-

Degree programmes are taught in the national language Bahasa Malaysia or the Malay language and English.

The medium of instruction is Bahasa Malaysia. International students who do not have the knowledge of the language will have to demonstrate a level of proficiency in the language as part of the entrance selection criteria.

Prospective candidates who are not sufficiently proficient in the language ill be required to undergo a preparatory programme of six months duration (one semester) prior to admissions into the degree course.

This course is offered four times a year (one semester) prior to admissions into the degree course. This course is offered four times a year.

Someone had died due to reckless driving.

The question is how did Hamood pass through the initial selection to be accepted for his PhD program?

For the records, USM has called on Hamood’s bluff:-

The Iraqi national who was charged in a magistrate’s court for reckless driving last week produced three journals on engineering in English which were published by international bodies.

Vice-chancellor Tan Sri Dzulkifli Razak said Hamood Shehab Hamid, 45, has been doing his doctorate in electronics engineering for the past one-and-a-half years.

“There is no reason for Hamood to say that he did not know English since he wrote the three journals.

“I have no idea why he made such a claim. Anyway it is a court case now, and we will wait for the decision.

“If he is not convicted, we will carry out our own investigations and decide on the action to be taken against him,” he said after opening a workshop at USM here yesterday.

The question is Hamood doing another “I don’t know English” tactic in the courts, made famous by one local politician in Australia and hope to get away with it?

If he is carrying million of cash, maybe, but this is not the case. Not when someone got killed due to reckless driving. Further by claiming that he does not understand English or Bahasa, it is obvious that he is wasting the court’s time to postpone the hearing and appoint an Arabic interpreter.

Frankly speaking, having this kind of foreigners in the country seems more frightening than having the lowly paid Bangladesh factory workers, don’t you think so?

7 thoughts on “Enforcement 101: Question On Dubious Foreign Student”

  1. can smell sarcasm from the topic (half truth us NOT truth)…..
    Yes, I can believe it ………… if you know this:

    Hi dudes,
    I am an international postgraduate PhD student in USM, and precisely Electrical Engineering School. I am from the Middle East (not from Iraq). I know this student (Hamood) as a colleague. A few words here to make things fair, here is the remaining half
    First, I feel very sad for this accident, and the loss of life. We lost a dear colleague.
    I lived and worked in the UK for some time, and I obtained Masters degree there from one of the top UK universities. I honestly can say USM is no less with current capabilities and potential. You Malaysians should be proud of this institution (FULL STOP !).
    – PhD students in USM are research students, which mean that they don’t enroll in classes, and are not instructed by any medium. The only course for international research students is LKM100 (basic Bahasa Malaysia). He should however be able to communicate well with his/her supervisor, and understand relevant scientific language.
    – In Electrical Engineering (same subject Hamood is studying), we work with mathematical formulas, equations, computer codes, simulations, and perform experimental work more than we use literature to describe ideas. You don’t have to be William Shakespeare, or a Literate to understand math. The amount and area of language involved is scientific oriented.
    – Postgraduate student should all be able know English (not Malay), as all papers, publications are in English. This is no difference for Hamood, which I believe he knew as he was in the final stage of preparing his thesis in English (thesis can be in English or Malay in USM).
    – May be his English was not solid enough for him to stand in a serious police investigation. Every word or legal term has its impact. I would have done exactly the same if I was in his place to avoid misunderstanding of irrelevant legal terms (no one wishes to be in his place).
    – I have come across some comments involving Iraq here. This is a shame. These people are suffering and deserve better respect.
    – Finally, if you think Malaysian (from all races) have better English than Hamood, think twice!!
    Peace to all

    1. EE_USM,

      Thanks for highlighting to us on the USM part especially on the manner PhD students will be tested and students in the field of electrical engineering work. I am not saying that USM’s teaching quality is low but questioning how Hamood can claim that he does not understand the 2 main languages in Malaysia whilst in USM learning in the very 2 medium.

      As you mentioned, he does not need “to be William Shakespeare, or a Literate to understand maths” but the same goes for recording a plea.

      The charge against Mr Hamood would be read in the court and he will be asked whether he understands the charge and how does he plea on the said charge – guilty or not guilty. If he pleas not guilty, then the court will fix a date for a full trial. If he does not understand the charge or worries that he may say the wrong thing, then he should ask the court for clarification or get his lawyer to explain to him. By him claiming that he does not understand Malay or English, certainly sends the wrong information on himself and USM.

      Finally, we Malaysians may not speak Queen’s English to the letter but when it comes to the situation that Mr Hamood is in, I think most of us is capable of understanding the gravity of the issue.

      Peace to all too

  2. Salam Alikum WRB
    First of all, we believe that this is an accident. An accident could be happen whether the driver is Iraqi or Malay, isn’t it?
    I am also a PhD student in E&EE school. I also agree with EE_USM.
    As an International student, unfortunately, I feel that all web sites are put the focus on the USM and specifically put the light on Iraqi students !!! Why?
    I am here in Malaysia since 2007. Approximately, every month I saw a killing of a motor rider by a car. Nevertheless, we feel ( as a human) very sad. Read Al-Fatihah. Asking Allah to forgive all. We didn’t ask anything about the race.
    As such, please stop increasing the gap among people. Either say something good, or keep silent is better !
    Consider yourself ,here, instead of Hamood or our sister.
    regardless if he was guilty or not, the accident was taken place. More to the point, this is the job of the court and not normal people. I hope, the readers will get the point.

    a “serious threat to national security”. << I think you try to fish here, be careful, no fish in a turbid water.
    " If the speaking is a silver, keeping silent is a gold"
    PhD Candidate,
    School E&EE,

  3. Hi;
    I realty wondered about this case, if this student is not a USM student wither this question will be addressed as a good question !!
    At the start and at the END this is an accident …!!
    For those who want the MOHE to look about –> Don’t be MUCH CRAZY, any body with the basics of High school English can PASS the ENGLISH LEVEL examination required by local universities in Malaysia or international as in UK or USA or others without being have a good communication skill in English (i.e speaking).
    I know well the system of (USA, UK, Canada and AU). SO If hammoud offered to study in USM he also can have an offer to study in UM, UPM,UKM, UTM, ….and all public and private univ. in Malaysia as well as overseas.
    EVEN IN USA you can study without having a very good level of english or even have a TOEFEL ,,, Detroit University is a well known and recognized unv. in which you can get and offer to study post-grad deg. in electrical eng. without having TOFEL.

    SO TO ENG … The case is ONLY NORMAL ACCIDENT ,,, every day in Malaysia and in all the world having a more worse accindets ,,, SO DO NOT GO FARE FROM THE case !!!
    100 …. FULL STOP !!

  4. USM_PhD & USM_ENG_Campus

    The issue here is not the accident (I agree that the accidents do happen and in Malaysia, on daily basis) and certainly the issue is not on USM (or any universities) for that matter – if USM care to response to clarify, it will be good. The issue is not on Iraqi people as general or of any other foreigners (certainly you cannot expect such foreigners to be running around the country without the ability to communicate to Malaysians or Malaysian based entities for formal and informal businesses?).

    The issue is on the response by Mr Hamood when asked on whether he understands the charge against him.

    See also:

  5. We believe that any foreigners (include MR. Hamood) know basic communication in English, Malay, or even M_English style (like oklah). However (tapi), this is could be some technical and social issues , Certainly not at a very critical level like presenting at the court. Here, any word is critical, any word by the judge should be understand -ed like native manner. Unlike the issue related to formal and informal businesses where any conversation could be in the field ( or intermediate langu franca) rather than in a situation in the court. Even though there are many fellows that understand, fluently, English, Arabic , and even Malay already came to the court. No one, in the position and proficiency grade enable him to translate law issues even though we understand the meaning of the charge against him (include himself), however, each word is critical and should be understand literally and not alternatively.
    We believe that the court know its job and hope the will, safe, and peace for all. We believe that this pained accident will not affect the great hospitality of our second home (Malaysia)and the great wisdom and knowledge that are provided by USM.
    Thanks Malaysia, thanks USM.
    Have a peace life ahead!

    1. USM_PhD

      In case you are not aware, Mr Hamood’s lawyer was present during the request for the plea – so understanding of legalistic language (if you want to call it) does not come into the picture. Mr Hamood is always free to consult his lawyer in case he does not understand the charge.

      And as a lawyer myself, I can attest that the court is not that cruel to confront a layman who being charged with heavy, cryptic legal words where one wrong say will cause the said layman to be punished severally. That never been the case.

      And that has nothing to do with USM or the kind foreigners who are here to enjoy what this beloved country has to offer. We would be saying the same thing if this has happened to a Malaysian.

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