Archive for category university

My Tribute to Badri bin Muhammad, PhD

M. Bakri Musa

Last and for a very special reason, I will cite another example of a free mind, Dr. Badri bin Muhammad. Badri was special to many, most immediately his wife and fellow Professor of Chemistry Karen Crouse, and their children Susanna, Adam, Diana, Nadira, and grandson Mitchell.

Once on meeting a group of Malaysian graduate students here in America, a few happened to have attended University Putra Malaysia. To my query whether they knew of Badri, one bright student beamed widely, “Yes, he was my wonderful chemistry professor!” and the others quickly joined in the praise. Very effusive and very heartfelt, those students were among Badri’s many legacies.

Badri died recently after a brief illness. He was special to me as we had been dear friends for a long time and shared so many bonds. Our wives knew each other well and so did our children who were of comparable ages. Read the rest of this entry »

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Idris Jusoh should stop being elitist, patronising or even “Marie Antoinettish”, as he should stop arguing whether there are hungry university students but get down to resolve the problem of students cutting down on meals because of economic exigencies

The Higher Education Minister, Datuk Idris Jusoh should stop being elitist, patronizing or even “Marie Antoinettish”, as he stop arguing over whether there are hungry university students but get down to resolve the problem of students cutting down on meals because of economic exigencies.

His statement two days ago that he went hungry too when he was a student, but lack of money was not always the issue, was not on the level of the infamous Marie Antoinette statement of “Let them eat cake!” when the French queen learned that the peasants had no bread, but was sufficiently unsympathetic to the students’ problems as to approximate Marie Antoinette in callousness and indifference to social sufferings among the people.

Instead of spearheading a campaign to end such a serious problem, Idris could only think of browbeating the media by ordering them not to highlight such issues; while one Minister after another had followed Idris to express skepticism about the existence of the problem of hungry University students.

This is most shocking for the problem of students cutting down on meals or even going hungry because of the economic strains on the students and their families, is not synthetic problem but a very real issue, as I had met university students in such straits in the past few weeks. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Disgrace of Malaysian University Education

By Murray Hunter
Asia Sentinel

January 6, 2016

Mismanagement, waste, and corruption in public universities

Malaysia’s public universities have dropped completely out of the World University Rankings maintained by the Times of London. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia was ranked 87th in the top 100 Asian rankings in 2013, but has since fallen out. Not a single Malaysian university made the top 100 Asian rankings.

The collapse of higher education in Malaysia has grown so marked that World Bank economist Dr Frederico Gil Sander recently said the state of the system is more alarming than the country’s considerable public debt. The talent needed to develop the Malaysian economy is not being produced.

It isn’t just the Times survey. Malaysian public universities have also shown mixed results in other surveys like the QS rankings,where three Malaysian universities rose slightly while Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, International Islamic Universiti Malaysia, and Universiti Teknologi MARA, all slipped. Not a single Malaysian university made the top 100, According to the QS ranking profiles, Malaysian universities have lost significant ground in academic reputation and tend to be weak in research, with no Malaysian university even reaching the top 400.

Public Universities Vice-Chancellor/Rector Committee chairman Kamarudin Hussin, also vice chancellor of Universiti Malaysia Perlis (Unimap) claims that the ranking methodologies favor older, more established universities. Yet many universities within the top 100 Asian universities were established relatively recently. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, ranked 7th was established in 1980, Nanyang Technological University, ranked 10th was set up in 1981, and Pohang University of Science and Technology, ranked 11th, was established in 1986. Read the rest of this entry »

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UiTM must give assurance it will not organize a third anti-Christianisation or anti any religion conference and Higher Education Minister Idris should convene meeting with all universities to ensure universities do not become breeding grounds for inter-religious misunderstanding, enmity and hatred

Tan Sri Dr. Sahol Hamid Abu Bakar should be sacked as UiTM Vice Chancellor of University Technology MARA (UiTM) for setting the worst possible example as a responsible Malaysian citizen for allowing the university to host a second anti-Christianisation seminar for the second consecutive year.

The seminar against Christianisation held in the Lendu, Malacca campus of UiTM on Saturday, was the second to be held by the university, after a similar seminar held last year at the UiTM Shah Alam campus, titled “The word ‘Allah’ and Christology in the Malay Archipelago”.

It is most shocking that Sahol, who had been UiTM Vice Chancellor for 15 years since 2000, and UiTM administrators responsible for the two anti-Christianisation seminars, do not seem to know or understand Rukunegara, whose core values and principles teach the diverse races and religions in Malaysia to respect each other so that we can settle our differences through dialogue and not confrontation.

The last thing the drafters of Runkunegara would want or expect our University Vice Chancellors and administrators to do would be to turn universities into breeding grounds for inter-religious misunderstanding, enmity and hatred.

If our undergraduates are taught to hate or fear other religions and adherents of other faiths, it is not only a repudiation of the Rukunegara, it is a most anti-national act as we are laying the seeds for inter-religious distrust, enmity and hatred which can only result in national discord and disunity. Read the rest of this entry »

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PAS loses shine with campus students

by Zulkifli Sulong
The Malaysian Insider
14 December 2015

Groomed by PAS in university for a future in politics, four close friends who lived and studied together, and were part of the Islamist party’s campus network, have decided to abandon the party and affiliate themselves with other political parties instead.

In events that mirror developments at the national level after PAS progressives left to form Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), the four friends, Khairul Najib Hashim, Mohammad Amar Atan, Fahmi Zainol dan Adam Fistival Wilfrid, said they found PAS to be stifling.

The Universiti Malaya (UM) student activists said the PAS network, also known as “jemaah” (congregation) on campus was controlling and restrictive. Read the rest of this entry »

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As 2020 deadline looms, Malaysian students fail to shine in science

by Boo Su-Lyn
The Malay Mail Online
November 2, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 ― Less than 13 per cent of those who sat for the Form 3 PT3 examination last year scored at least a C in both science and mathematics, Putrajaya has revealed, despite Malaysia’s aim to achieve developed nation status in less than five years.

The Education Ministry also said that the average percentage of secondary school students who qualified for the science stream, based on their results of the previous Form 3 PMR examination, only hovered around 30 per cent over the past 10 years, though Malaysia has been aiming for a 60:40 ratio of science/ technical/vocational and arts students since 1970.

“The most probable reason for this could be the new format for the PT3 science and maths papers,” Education director-general Datuk Seri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof told Malay Mail Online in a recent email interview, in explaining the PT3 science and maths results.

“There were very few multiple choice questions which most students are very familiar with; and the test items demand a lot of thinking on the part of the students to gauge their understanding of the subject matter rather than regurgitating rote-learned concepts.

“It does not encourage teaching to the test and teachers need to engage the students in the learning process by asking more higher-order thinking questions. It is hoped that this kind of format will encourage the students to learn meaningfully and in future, the PT3 results will become better,” he added. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why there is no academic freedom in Malaysia

– Murray Hunter
The Malaysian Insider
5 October 2015

The Malaysian government is trying to develop the country into an education hub.

Most universities seek awards of excellence and to get their institutions into the rankings.

However, even with these aspirations, Malaysia’s overall rankings have been slipping over the last decade, while many other universities within the region have been rising dramatically. Read the rest of this entry »

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A call to Malay M’sians to reject red-shirt menace

Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi
8th Sept 2015

I am writing as a concerned Malaysian and as a responsible Muslim against the overt threats of those I will refer to as the RSMM – the Red Shirt Malay Menace.

I have no idea what the official name of this group is, so I am using my academic licence to call them RSMM. Were this a Bahasa Malaysia article, I would dub them MMTM – Melayu Merah Tiada Maruah.

But strangely enough, this article is not about the RSMM but more about the deafening silence from the Malay political leadership, the Malay leadership of public universities, the Malay ulama who are muftis, and the Malay leadership in one particular political group which claims to be the sole warriors of Islam.

From the first day that the activities of this group were reported in the media and online videos showing them as ‘pahlawan’ or warriors getting ready for battle, I have kept a close eye on not their childish statements and loud bravado but on who amongst the Malay elites of this country holding the bastion of power socially, religiously and politically would say about this group and their more-than-clear intention. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call on newly-appointed Minister for Higher Education Idris Jusoh to advise university administrators to respect the intellectual freedom of students and stop treating them as children as Malaysia aspires to university academic excellence

I call on the newly-appointed Minister for Higher Education, Datuk Idris Jusoh to advise university administrators in the country to respect the intellectual freedom of students and to stop treating them as children if Malaysia truly aspires to achieve university academic excellence in the world.

Idris should advise Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA) to withdraw the suspension of two students, Hanif Mahpa and Afiqah Zulkifli for organising a forum on the goods and services tax (GST) and inviting a Member of Parliament and PKR vice president Rafizi Ramli to the forum last May. Read the rest of this entry »

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Academic freedom, critical thinking tools to fighting extremism, forum told

by Jennifer Gomez
The Malaysian Insider
17 June 2015

Universities have a role to play in preventing fanaticism and extremism from festering in society, academic Professor Dr Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid said, warning that Malaysia was at a turning point.

Ibrahim, the deputy vice-chancellor of INTI-Laureate International University said extremism was taking hold and urged intellectuals to reclaim their fundamental rights.

He also said the Malays were “cultural prisoners” in Malaysia and that in many ways, the non-Malays were freer than the Malays in this country.

“When university people surrender and are not courageous and allow lesser thinkers take over because of their articulation and their loudness and their mechanism of power, they can actually oppress the masses.

“It is tragic when they oppress the intellectuals and the intellectuals accept the oppression,” he said.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Is criticising Putrajaya more serious crime than kiddie porn, ask student activists

by Diyana Ibrahim
The Malaysian Insider
6 May 2015

Majlis Amanah Rakyat’s (Mara) decision to give a “second chance” to child porn convict Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin gives the impression that sexual crimes are less serious than criticising Putrajaya, said two student activists.

The duo, who had disciplinary action taken against them by their respective universities, said students who disagreed with the government faced suspension or expulsion from their institutions of higher learning.

Adam Adli Abdul Halim said Mara’s proposal was unfair because the same opportunity was not given to undergraduates fighting for their rights and vocal in defending democracy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Don’t rely on our university rankings alone, QS tells Putrajaya

by Anisah Shukry
The Malaysian Insider
2 May 2015

Despite Malaysian universities’ continued strong showing in QS Quacquarelli Symonds’s world rankings, the London-based firm has cautioned Malaysia not to solely rely on its results to gauge the performance of the nation’s varsities.

While Putrajaya often cites QS’s rankings as proof Malaysian universities are world class, QS head of research Ben Sowter agreed with Times Higher Education (THE) that Malaysia must refer to multiple sources to get an accurate picture of how local varsities fare compared with the rest of the world.

“Ours is only one of range of publicly available measures. Universities and policy-makers should combine data from multiple sources to form an accurate diagnosis of their strengths and weaknesses,” Rowter told The Malaysian Insider in an email interview.

“We strongly discourage anyone from making important choices on the basis of only one input.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia needs not only a new Finance Minister, but also new world-class Education Minister

Calls on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak to stand down as Finance Minister led by DAP MP for Kluang and DAP National Political Education Director, Liew Chin Tong have reached a new crescendo with last Friday’s statement by the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin withdrawing blind and total support to Najib’s handling of the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal, with the triple position:

1. That the Auditor-General should audit freely and independently, and tracing back to the accounts in 2009 when 1MDB first started, not just the accounts of 2013, as well as a forensic audit to ensure “there is no corruption in 1MDB transactions.

2. That the Public Accounts Committee begin investigating 1MDB without having to wait for the outcome of the Auditor-General’s findings.

3. No bail-out of 1MDB whether in the proposed disposals of lands in Tun Razak Exchange and Bandar Malaysia which were “obtained from the government on the cheap”.

However, the nation needs not only a new Finance Minister, but also a new Education, a need driven home after Muhyiddin’s speech today admitting his shock with the poor performance of Malaysian students in international assessments, despite the millions of ringgit being spent to improve the education system.

What is most shocking about Muhyiddin’s “shock” is that it has to take him 15 months for the Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Education Minister to be shocked by the dismal performance of Malaysia’s 15-year-olds in the three subjects of mathematics, science and reading in the 2012 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), when the results were released 15 months ago in early December 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

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Yet again, Malaysian varsities not among world’s top

The Malaysian Insider
12 March 2015

Malaysian universities have once again failed to make the cut in the latest Times Higher Education (THE) World Reputation Rankings 2015, with too few scholars citing the country’s tertiary institutions as being among the best in the world.

The list of the world’s 100 most prestigious universities released today includes two Singapore varsities, and is based on the largest survey of leading academics across the world, said THE rankings editor, Phil Baty.

“As long as academics cite them as being among the very best universities in the world, they will appear in the rankings,” Baty told The Malaysian Insider in an email.

“Unfortunately, not enough scholars around the world named any Malaysian university in sufficient numbers for them to make the top 100. Singapore had two top entries – NUS (National University of Singapore) in 24th place and NTU (Nanyang Technological University) in the 91-100 band.”

Malaysia has never been featured on the list, which is in its fifth year, despite Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh’s recent statement that the country’s universities are world class and on par with varsities in Britain, Germany and Australia.

But unlike Malaysia, those three countries were singled out by THE as having among the highest number of institutions in the World Reputation Rankings 2015.

The US had the most number of institutions at 43, followed by the United Kingdom (12), Germany (six) and Australia (five). Read the rest of this entry »

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Idris Jusoh’s statement: refreshing and disappointing

— Lee Hwok Aun
The Malay Mail Online
FEBRUARY 28, 2015

FEBRUARY 28 — Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh’s opinion piece, defending his description of Malaysian universities as world class, is refreshing – and disappointing. Kudos to him for responding to criticisms in this manner, instead of deriding detractors or going into “I was misquoted” hiding.

However, his article merely inflates his original contentious remarks: Malaysian universities are world class because they are a popular destination for international students and Universiti Malaya has a decent spot on the QS university rankings. He hardly brings anything new to the public arena. In fact, some of the evidence he presents refutes his own position. He also tries to portray critics as having their hearts in the wrong place, instead of fixing his head on confronting their arguments directly.

Idris draws on a UNESCO report which appraised Malaysia’s relative popularity as a tertiary education destination. Unsurprisingly, cultural compatibility, low cost and good value feature prominently. Malaysia is considered good for the price, and the price is relatively cheap. This is not indicating that our tertiary education is bad, but it is far from a vindication of high quality and world class.

Idris adopts a simple definition of world class: among the best in the world. It must be noted that we are speaking of universities and education systems, not individuals. This is an important distinction, because Idris lists out a number of personal academic achievements – award winning professors, inventors, and student debaters – as evidence of our institutions’ world class status. I am not devaluing these achievements, but pointing out an inconsistency in his argument. Read the rest of this entry »

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With UMNO’s Kangkong Professors running riot with their illiterate interpretation of national developments, Malaysia’s university ranking can only plunge further south without hope of restoring our former world-class university status

UMNO’s Kangkong Professors have been running riot with their illiterate interpretation of national developments, and the most recent example is the Bernama report yesterday entitled “Local Council Elections Contravene Constitution, An Attempt To Create Autonomy: Analysts – by Erda Khursyiah Basir”.

It quoted Kankong Professor (1), Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Dean of the College of Legal, Government and International Studies, Asso Prof Dr. Ahmad Martadha Mohamad and Kangkong Professor (2), Universiti Utara Malaysia senior lecturer in Political and International Studies, Md Shukri Shuib, to ground the allegations that the “DAP’s endeavour to hold local elections in Penang” is seen as “an attempt to challenge the Federal Constitution” and “turn the Pearl of the Orient into an autonomous states” which “only serve to shatter racial unity and adversely impact nation-building efforts”.

It is sad and tragic that the Dean of the College of Legal, Government and International Studies of a local public university does not understand the Federal Constitution or he would not say such a nonsense about the DAP challenging the Federal Constitution for holding the view that local government elections should be restored 50 years after suspension in 1965, at the time on the ground of threat of Indonesian Confrontation.

Can the Kankong Professor who holds the exalted position of Dean of College of Legal, Government and International Studies explain how the DAP’s position that local government elections should be restored, which the then Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman had promised would be done once Indonesian Confrontation ended? Read the rest of this entry »

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Stop making the Deputy VCs as sacrificial victims when the people who should resign are the DPM and Education Minister Muhyiddin and the VC Amin Jalaludin for continued political interference against academic freedom and excellence

The Deputy Vice Chancellors, Professor Dr. Mohd Hamid Abd Shukor (academic and international) and Professor Datuk Dr. Rohana Yusof (student affairs) should not be made sacrificial victims in the continued political interference with the once leading university in the country.

If any body should quit their posts, it is the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for continued political interference against academic freedom and excellence in University of Malaya and the Vice Chancellor, Professor Datuk Dr. Mohd Amin Jalaludin who had dismally failed to stand up for the academic staff and the university students in University of Malaya against such political interference by the politicians from Putrajaya.

The greatest tragedy of University of Malaya is that it has fallen off from the pedestal as one of the leading world universities even in the sixties and seventies, left far behind by its earlier peers and even equals among the leading national universities in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia and there are no signs that University of Malaya is on the bend to restore her prestigious world top positions for academic freedom and excellence some forty years ago. Read the rest of this entry »

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Epitomising Dr M’s criticisms of the gov’t

By Ganeshwaran Kana
6:43PM Dec 29, 2014

COMMENT Dear Dr Mahathir Mohamad. I would consider “vociferous” as the best and most suitable word to epitomise your criticisms against Malaysia’s government of the day in recent times. As a citizen of Malaysia, one has the right to speak of and criticise his or her government.

Although some of your arguments have gained public support, the current generation of Malaysia has all the rights to question policies and actions of your governance in the past.

To set the record straight right at the start, I am neither a supporter of Umno nor of “the other side”.

Nevertheless, being a civic-minded citizen of Malaysia, I would like to request your explanations pertaining to various issues spanning throughout your 22 years in your journey as the prime minister of Malaysia.

Although I duly recognise your contributions to Malaysia, any flaw and mistakes that took place under your long premiership should be taken as your mishandling. This is what real leaders do.

And, hopefully, this commentary of mine is not to be seen as seditious. Read the rest of this entry »

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Would Najib ask all the 34 UMNO/BN Ministers who send their children to private or international schools, whether local or foreign, to resign for their lack of confidence in the Umno/BN national education policy and system?

Malaysians must thank the former Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir Mohamad for highlighting the scandal of more and more Umno/BN Ministers and leaders sending their children to private or international schools, whether local or foreign, as it has been a standing example in the past decades of the hypocrisy of UMNO/BN leaders who preach one thing for ordinary Malaysians but do the exact opposite for themselves and their family.

Would the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak ask all the 34 Umno/BN Ministers who send their children to private or international schools, whether local or foreign, to resign for their lack of confidence in the Umno/BN national education policy and system?

I have been informed that one of the first things a Minister of the Najib Cabinet did on his appointment was to transfer one of his children to an international school.


Is this because Malaysia’s education system sucks, stuck in the bottom third of the countries surveyed in international assessments and not making any significant moves towards the upper tier of the top one-third of the countries with 15-year-olds in Shanghai, Singapore and South Korea performing as though they had four or even five more years of schooling than 15-years-olds in Malaysia in mathematics, science and reading? Read the rest of this entry »

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In solidarity with UM8 – UM alumni, academics and concerned individuals

The Malaysian Insider
6 November 2014

We, the undersigned individuals, call on University Malaya (UM) to drop the charges against student leader Fahmi Zainol and all other students pertaining to the forum entitled “Empat PuluhTahun Dari UM ke Penjara” which took place on campus on 27 October 2014.

We support the right of Persatuan Mahasiswa University Malaya(PMUM), as an elected bodyrepresenting UM students, to organise events on campus. Their choice of topic for the lecture is reflective of the currently debated issue within academia and society.

We laud the students’initiative in seeking knowledge and critical views in understanding this issue further. The choice of inviting a politician as a guest speaker is not extraordinary as the university regularly haspolitical leaders coming to speak on its campus.

We wish to also record our serious concern and raise objection to the series of actions taken byUM in the handling of this event. The university’s response raises serious concerns regarding the professionalism of its administrators and the institution’s commitment to academic integrity and intellectual freedom. Read the rest of this entry »

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