PhD student in USM who does not understand English or Malay!

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?

Read the following Bernama report:

Iraqi Doctorate Student Charged With Reckless Driving

NIBONG TEBAL, 19 Feb (Bernama) — An Iraqi, who is taking a doctorate at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), was Friday charged in the Magistrate Court here with reckless driving and causing the death of a student at the university, Fadilah Abdul Halim, 27, last Thursday.

Hamood Sheehab Hamid, 45, is charged with committing the offence at the traffic light exit to USM, at Jalan Transkrian about 9.45am.

Hamood, who is taking a doctorate in electronic engineering, is charged with driving in a reckless and dangerous manner under section 41 (1) of the Road Transport Act 1987.

However, no plea was recorded because Hamood could neither understand English nor Malay.

Magistrate Mohd Izham Ali ordered Hamood’s passport be surrendered to the court and set bail at RM5,000 in two sureties, a local and a foreigner.

He fixed March 23 for mention.

Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Ghazali Muhamad Nadzri prosecuted, while Hamood was represented by lawyer Badrul Hisham Abdullah.

  1. #1 by limkamput on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 4:37 pm

    Sdr Lim, DPM said you don’t understand separation of power. What have you got to say on this? He also said Syariah canning is mild. I smell fish in this Syariah canning thing – it is not like the government has not had enough problems in their hand already. I tell you, our DPM is getting smarter by the day. This country has a bright future!

  2. #2 by -ec- on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 4:48 pm

    need a driving license? ->ask the transport minister
    need a degree? ->ask the dpm
    need a scholarship?->ask the pm

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 5:10 pm

    What medium of instruction is the student using in USM?
    Elementary lah, Watson, oil money loh!

  4. #4 by yhsiew on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 5:39 pm

    Maybe Hamood did not understand some of the legal terms used when charged in court. Some of these jargon can be difficult to understand even to people with an “O-level” English background.

  5. #5 by johnnypok on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 5:40 pm

    Aiyah, with money you can buy anything in Bodohland, including life!

  6. #6 by donplaypuks on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 5:56 pm

    Come, come YB, you should know better!!

    Of course they don’t teach in Malay or English at USM anymore.

    In S’pore they teach in Singlish and in Malaysia, in Manglish!!

    The Judge should have asked the Iraqi something like:

    “How didtch chew pleaded, ah?” and Hamood would then have understood him perfectly!! Lol.

    Check out my Manglish webdite at

    We are all of 1 race, the Human Race

  7. #7 by dagen on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 6:09 pm

    So what qualifications does one need to be accepted for PhD studies at USM – our one and only (declared) premier uni?

  8. #8 by sheriff singh on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 6:36 pm

    “What medium of instruction is the student using in USM?”

    Five possible answers:

    1. Mathematics is a universal language.

    2. He is writing his thesis in sign language.

    3. He draws cartoons, pictures and caricatures.

    4. He writes Babylonian.

    5. His Ph D supervisor is Dr Jinn Han Too

  9. #9 by Jeffrey on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 6:44 pm

    This USM, a world class apex university loh! It won’t hold back brilliant students from all over the world – especially from Iraq – this cradle of Civilisation that without English proficiency could develop a nuclear programme worrying the Jews and the Americans -just because of lack of proficiency in English…. Malaysia with better English proficiency, got Nuclear programme meh??? These foreign students have, after all, studied a bit of English in Iraqi govt school before they enroll here. None of the them have ever travelled to any English-speaking country other than Malaysia. Many of them are pursuing post graduate studies/research in pure science and applied science field of studies – not related to languages or linguistics where English or Bahasa may be more important. That which need be explained, and would be difficult in English, may be done in their native tongue (USM has translators). Even then to be enrolled these foreign students need to have a “minimum” standard of proficiency in English. But how minimum is “minimum”? I would imagine “minimum” means, for example, teaching them to say “Thanks; thank you” after finishing presenting one’s research paper (in Arabic?) when someone from audience say “You did a good job”; or in converse situation when audience thank them, to say, “ You are welcome”…

  10. #10 by ReformMalaysia on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 6:55 pm

    PhD student in USM who does not understand English or Malay!???

    That is interesting….who is the Malaysian Education Minister?…..Who is the Malaysian’s Higher Education Minister? I don’t remember who they are but sure they are UMNO members! Koh Tsu Koon & Idris Jala….. do these two ministers achieved their respective KPIs?

    Not too long ago, Dr Mahathir said that UMNO is rotten to its core…..that is probably true!

  11. #11 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 7:03 pm

    THis Iraqi episode is not without precedent….they either plead ignorance, deaf or mute or in Tun M’s case, amnesia (forgetfulness) when they are ‘guilty’.

    So, there u are. Now Tun M’s memory is back in full swing and he can scold the world; he even remembers the holocaust is a hoax! Thew Iraqi will go on to get his Ph.D from USM, no surprise.

    No surprise indeed.

  12. #12 by CK on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 7:09 pm

    Tolong jangan buat Malaysia lagi racist kerana Malaysian sudah cukup racist. Ini ialah 1Malaysia Encik Dr Hamood hanya paham Bahasa Cina dan Bahasa Tamil sahaja. Adakah ini satu kesalahan????

  13. #13 by Dap man on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 7:10 pm

    One has to be in court to understand what goes on there.
    The interpreter will ramble away from the charge sheet. Nothing is audible. Only the last sentence is audible when the accused is asked how he would like to plead.
    Drug addicts, illiterates and petty thieves will nod their heads and say “SALAH”.
    Mind you they never understand what is happening in the court nor the charge but reply ‘Salah’.
    Now go to the court and see for yourselves.
    See how easy it is to be procecutor and magistrate.

  14. #14 by boh-liao on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 7:46 pm

    Hey, maybe d Iraqi student speaks n understands perfect Queen’s English, NOT our puah tan sai Bahasa English use in our Magistrate Court!

  15. #15 by aiD_kamikuP on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 9:29 pm

    It’s no big deal. This Iraqi student must be bright for he has learnt from example….an UMNO example

    Even a Menteri Besar of the richest state in Malaysia can escape conviction by pleading “I no unstand Engrand”

  16. #16 by vsp on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 9:45 pm

    Maybe this Iraqi student was offered a place in USM for a price: to testify that his anus was sodomised by a somebody.

  17. #17 by lopez on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 10:00 pm

    how can you be an international centre of education …..
    Cheap economist: of course it is not easy but we can give good special policies like special privilege to special countries and brings lots of students.
    It’s all about being SPECIAL in bolihland

    Entry levels just need to be on par with our MOE standards and guidelines, if not special entrance levels.

  18. #18 by DCLXVI on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 10:47 pm

    Luckily the above-mentioned traffic accident did not involve any Pakatan Rakyat politician or it will be politicised like what happened to one such politician in Selangor.

    The lawyer for this Iraqi post-graduate student must have earlier known that his client did not understand English & Malay, and therefore should have arranged for an Arabic language interpreter to be present in court, especially if USM already actually has people available to help translate for such students.

  19. #19 by Dipoh Bous on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 11:12 pm

    hmm…. why not just try him in the syariah court? If found guilty, can him! After all it happens in the ‘muslim’ world, right?

  20. #20 by June Bliss on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 11:27 pm

    Did he even take MUET?? Lol…

  21. #21 by pulau_sibu on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 11:38 pm

    do you think boleh students are better than iraqi students? i think everyone can get into boleh universities for phd because requirements are not strict. so now everyone can get a phd (like now everyone can fly)

  22. #22 by boh-liao on Friday, 19 February 2010 - 11:39 pm

    Not surprisingly, USM, d 1 n only Apex univ here, has gone truly international n may allow its postgrad students 2 write their theses in foreign languages, such as Arabic, Shona, n Ndebele

  23. #23 by ekompute on Saturday, 20 February 2010 - 2:50 am

    Aiyaaa, obviously he must be using sign language. Let’s be more sympathetic to those who are physically challenged! Malaysia Boleh what?

  24. #24 by Black Arrow on Saturday, 20 February 2010 - 8:32 am

    Doctorate student who does not understand English is of no surprise to me. This is Bolehland. Anything goes!

  25. #25 by Syeikhs85 on Saturday, 20 February 2010 - 9:46 am

    Hello guys! see in the trial the witness and the accused will try all sort of tricks for ‘escapism’ including could not understand the language even though is a doctorate student. For fairness and uphold the legal system, the magistrate have to accept that the accused person do not understand both English and Bahasa Malaysia. Even though deep in his heart he knows it’s not the truth being a PhD Student. Hence has to postpone to appoint an Arabian as translator. Understand that before fooling yourselves and cursing your own motherland as “Bolehland” and “Bodohland”. You those who cursed your own motherland should be ashame to still call yourselves “Malaysian”. I bet you dare not seek any other land to live but this Motherland.

  26. #26 by boh-liao on Saturday, 20 February 2010 - 10:46 am

    Actually, d PhD candidate was very smart n aware of our political history
    He learnt fr d ex-MB of Selangor who LIED to d Ozzies dat he no speako Inglis
    Aaaaaaah, leadership by example loh!

  27. #27 by cemerlang on Saturday, 20 February 2010 - 1:33 pm

    May be if they know English, they would not be involved in wars. University students are suppose to be clever. But if you are never given an opportunity to go to university, how would you know if you are not clever too ? Or you can pass every exam but you can be not educated. An uneducated person can be civilized like our ancestors. An educated person can be uncivilized like today’s people who have gone to school. What makes a person learned ? What makes a person educated ? What makes a person understand the world ? What makes a person understand himself ? Iraq is richer than Malaysia. With all her wealth, what is she doing about it ? An educated person can commit crimes. An uneducated person will not commit crimes. So what are those factors that determine who will do what and why ?

  28. #28 by storm62 on Saturday, 20 February 2010 - 3:37 pm

    i no spik inglis…..ha ha ha

    he lost his “change mode” remote control.

  29. #29 by good coolie on Saturday, 20 February 2010 - 3:55 pm

    I am nor surprised. He can write his thesis in Arabic and have it translated; or he can write in pidgin English and have it edited; or he can have his thesis written for him in return for a price.

    During my halcyon days in government service, I knew of a set of five people who did their doctorate in America. Having witnessed their performance, I concluded that something was wrong with their Ph.Ds. Anyway, all of them came to hold top posts in that particular department of government, backed by their academic qualifications and the “buddy” system.

  30. #30 by good coolie on Saturday, 20 February 2010 - 3:56 pm

    “I am not surprised”

  31. #31 by chengho on Saturday, 20 February 2010 - 3:59 pm

    In penang anything possible , investigate the car rental company , house rental,etc . What what language he sign the agreement , Iraqi language?

  32. #32 by DCLXVI on Saturday, 20 February 2010 - 5:46 pm

    chengho: “In penang anything possible”

    How about in Baghdad?

    chengho: “investigate the car rental company , house rental,etc .”

    Isn’t it a possibility that this Iraqi PhD student had help from some locals or other Iraqis or Arabs who are more familiar with Malaysia?

    chengho: “What what language he sign the agreement , Iraqi language?”

    Isn’t it most likely that his signature is in Arabic?

  33. #33 by waterfrontcoolie on Saturday, 20 February 2010 - 11:29 pm

    Please don’t ‘laugh’ at this Iraqi for not being proficient in English though he has the desire to get his PhD just like so many of our Latuhs and 1/2 H6 politicians and ersatz businessmen who became specialist in their fields of business overnight. The joke is they are spoken to as if they are the real one. Maybe ChengHo too should get one. what about it ChengHo??

  34. #34 by ShiokGuy on Sunday, 21 February 2010 - 2:26 am

    “I speak no ingland”

    How on earth he communicate to his lawyer? In Arabic? Sign Language?

    I smell something fishy here. Is he really a PHD student? or just……..

    Shiok Guy

  35. #35 by Black Arrow on Sunday, 21 February 2010 - 10:26 am

    Hello Syeikhs85, are you a mole?

    As ShiokGuy above has written, something fishy is going on in regards to the PHD student.

    Why isn’t an interpreter available?

    Mind you, the person who died in the accident is a Malaysian. We have lost a valuable young life who could have contributed much to the country.

  36. #36 by EE_USM on Sunday, 21 February 2010 - 11:13 am

    I 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 ifA I was in his place to avoid misunderstanding 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

  37. #37 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 21 February 2010 - 12:23 pm

    He uses various internet translators and then cut and paste.

    Why is USM so quiet about this “student”?

    If he no spik da England and Bahasa and cannot read Romanised words, how does he read road direction signs or even get a driving licence?

  38. #38 by johnnypok on Sunday, 21 February 2010 - 12:47 pm

    If no speaking ingland or bahasa, how to register for a place in the U, unless the U is for monkeys and kangaroos!

  39. #39 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 21 February 2010 - 4:58 pm

    Bernama report – “Hamood was represented by lawyer Badrul Hisham Abdullah….However, no plea was recorded because Hamood could neither understand English nor Malay.”

    He makes his plea – guilty or innocent – via his lawyer. You mean his lawyer also neither understand English nor Malay? How his lawyer communicate with Hamood – in Arabic?

    Besides according to Hamood’s colleague EE_USM in post #36 Hamood “was in the final stage of preparing his thesis in English”.

    EE_USM gave the excuse – “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 irrelevant legal terms (no one wishes to be in his place).”

    All it takes is : how do you plead – innocent or guilty of the charge? You mean Hamood could not understand that? Or his lawyer who could make the plea on his behalf? How incredible!

  40. #40 by DCLXVI on Sunday, 21 February 2010 - 5:02 pm

    If Hamood really does have some knowledge of basic Malay & a better knowledge of English, it is quite a risk to make the court believe that he does not totally understand both languages.
    The charge of reckless driving and causing the death of another person is a very serious offence, and if Hamood is found guilty, he may not have the chance to complete his PhD here.

  41. #41 by alir on Wednesday, 24 February 2010 - 2:56 pm

    As an Iraqi postgraduate also studying at USM, I would say that this is an unfortunate accident that has lad to the loss of young girl’s life. Hamood should take some of the blame for driving irresponsibly, yet let’s not forget it’s an accident.

    I’m sorry, but I believe that the title of this blog is really provoking and very irresponsible.

    First of all, we, as Iraqi’s do speak English. Unfortunately this was mentioned in sarcastic way with someone talking about “nuclear” programs and the likes. Others talk about Hamood knowing sign language. It is taken for granted because of the title, that this man really doesn’t know English, nor Malay and USM is accepting low quality students! For God’s sake, let’s be fair and responsible.

    English is part of the Iraqi curriculums that start at primary school. Hamood, which I don’t know personally by the way, does speak English for sure. There is no way he could be accepted at USM if he doesn’t speak English. But I doubt that he would be able to understand the terminology used in courts, as few suggested in this blog. That’s why he hired a lawyer! As far as I know, once you have a lawyer, he will do the talking for you!!
    The other thing I would like to comment on is that one single accident related to one person doesn’t give the right to anybody to “generalize” about one’s country, language or anything else. USM is taking huge steps towards being one of the top universities world-wide. Now we judge based on speculations?!
    For your information, English proficiency is a must to be accepted in a postgraduate study at USM. Malay, introductory level, is also part of the requirements to complete such study. No student can graduate from USM, PhD or Masters, without passing this test with at least a C. Now USM, an APEX university, is being considered incompetent based on speculations? Why? because “the title” of this blog, the whole system “government” who granted USM APEX is also incompetent!!???
    Does any of this make sense? Please, be fair.

  42. #42 by EE_USM on Wednesday, 24 February 2010 - 8:13 pm

    Hello Jeffry: As incredible as it might be, I’ll tell you what’s incredible:
    I am not giving excuses …..! Your endless effort to damage the reputation of your own widely respected academic institution… That is incredible! You can easily check Mr. Hamood’s academic level if you google his name for one of his published papers. (I’ll give a link if you fail to find any).

    One thing about LKM 100 taught in USM, The aim is more of an introduction to Malaysian culture and language rather than the real ability to speak fluent Malay. Do expect from someone who can count: “Satu, Dua, Tiga ”, or can say “Selamat tingah hari” , to stand in a court in Malay??. Hamood has asked for his normal and legal right to have an interpreter, and the judge approved his request. The prosecution, his lawyer, and the judge are all going to communicate in Malay language at court (don’t tell me otherwise). Don’t you think at least he deserves to know what’s going on in his court session?

    Previously (# 9) you were sarcastic of brilliant Iraqi minds! Do you believe that students from Iraq and the Middle East do not deserve education! Just because they don’t appear on Discovery or National Geographic doesn’t mean they are not brilliantly minded. That’s not how science is evaluated. If you have the USA & UK phobia, take a look at the number of student from the middle east enrolled in US and British universities. Scientific achievement is based on the ability to publish novel work in highly ranked international journals, evaluated by worldwide professionals and specialists in their fields (which is what USM students are doing for your knowledge), otherwise, your work is worthless. To appear on Discovery or Nat Geo, all it takes is either eat snails & lizards, or have your memories engraved as a tattoo on you buttocks in a Miami or LA ink shop.
    In #9, you say “– especially from Iraq – this cradle of Civilisation that without English proficiency could develop a nuclear programme worrying the Jews and the Americans –“. Apparently you need serious independent reading on Middle East crises and politics. For sure, you will never comment like this on this issue then.

    I have already come across senior Malaysian citizens in Malaysia, who cannot speak English or Malay! Don’t they deserve an interpreter if they happen to be court? Or will press and websites headlines read (“A Malaysian citizen who cannot understand Malay or English. Can you believe it ?”).

    Directing the news of this traffic accident in such a manner, and insisting to either question the credibility of “USM” or “its students” is either narrow minded, or highly questionable.

    Peace to all

  43. #43 by shinaz on Monday, 2 August 2010 - 8:52 am

    First of all, I know that this post is outdated, but I only just came across it on google search, and felt that I needed to say something about it. The title of this post is most definitely misleading, as the issue is not that the student could not speak English, but rather that he was involved in a car accident which caused the death of another student. It also aims to mock Iraqi students. Why use racist terms that show inequality such as “an Iraqi student…”? Why couldn’t it have been just “a student”? Why should the race/ethnic background of the accused be something worth mentioning? It’s as if the factor as to why the accident was caused is that the student is Iraqi, or the fact that an Iraqi causing the accident is more of a concern than if a local were to have caused it, or that the race/ethnic background of a person is relative to the incident. How would you feel if it read, “A Chinese who is taking a doctorate at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), was charged in the Magistrate Court here with reckless driving and causing the death of a student at the university, Fadilah Abdul Halim, 27, last Thursday.” or, replace “Chinese” with “Malay” or “Indian”. See my point now?

    This post just goes to show the idiocy and stupidity of the writers of Malaysian newspapers (Bernama, Star) these days. What happened to the reporters, writers and editors in the late 80’s and 90’s? They produced quality material worth reading and mentioning. I cannot believe the stories that are being reported these days! Insignificant, badly written, misleading and not to mention, almost never cover the whole truth of certain cases, especially those cases wherein their credibility depends on the whole truth.

    For all we know, the student was probably too scared or shocked to communicate/think properly, and came up with whatever excuse he had to buy time for himself. I know I would do the same if I were in his situation just so that I could later think clearly and rationally on what steps I should take next to get myself out of it. And he did a pretty good job at that- the bail is only set at RM5,000 for reckless driving which involved death! In any case, who cares if the student couldn’t speak properly? We want to know about the victim’s family, or more details on how and what caused the accident!

    The title is an insult and a disgrace in memory of the victim. Sooner or later, the only thing people will ever remember about this case was that an IRAQI PHD STUDENT COULDN’T SPEAK ENGLISH/MALAY. All anyone is EVER going to talk about at her funeral is that some iraqi dude who was doing his phd in USM couldnt speak English. NO ONE will remember the victim!

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