What is the rankings’ message for varsities?

By Dr I Lourdesamy
Malaysiakini
Oct 15, 2014

The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2014-2015 has caused some concern in Malaysia, and rightly so. There is not a single Malaysian university in the top 400 positions. What is more discomforting is the decision of Universiti Malaya (UM) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) to opt out from participating in the THE ranking exercise. They argue that the THE ranking is less relevant to their direction and focus.

They are featured in the QS World University Rankings, which seems to present a more favourable picture of their performance. Their decision to accept the QS ratings and reject the THE ratings has only compounded the problem, for it seems to reflect a lack of academic honesty. At one time UM was on the THE list but as its rankings began to fall, UM decided not to participate in the survey.

Several criticisms have been levelled at Malaysian universities for their poor showing in international rankings of educational institutions. Malaysian universities are constantly compared with Singapore where the National University of Singapore (NUS) secured a world ranking of 25 in the THE list for 2014-2015 and Nanyang Technological University was placed 61.

Several universities in East Asia have also shown high rankings, with the University of Tokyo leading the pack at position 23.

What is the message for Malaysian universities, especially for UM which started off at the same time as NUS? Read the rest of this entry »

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To end Nancy’s agony, the Cabinet tomorrow should (i) reaffirm Najib’s pledge to repeal the Sedition Act and (ii) drop all sedition charges in court

For the past ten days, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri has been at the receiving end of national brickbats, scorn and even opprobrium for her outrageous parliamentary answer to the Penang Chief Minister and Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng that Perkasa President Datuk Ibrahim Ali was not prosecuted for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible as Ibrahim was defending the sanctity of Islam.

Nancy added fuel to the national firestorm ignited by her answer when she ill-advisedly sought to clarify later with an even more outrageous justification – that Ibrahim’s action was protected by Article 11(4) of the Malaysian Constitution.

These are undoubtedly the worst ten days in Nancy’s political life.

To end Nancy’s agony and ordeal, the Cabinet tomorrow should step in with two decisions, firstly to reaffirm the pledge given by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in 2012 to repeal the colonial Sedition Act; and secondly, to drop all sedition charges and prosecutions currently in court. Read the rest of this entry »

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Explain inaction on racial, religious provocation cases, Bar asks police, A-G

By V. ANBALAGAN
The Malaysian Insider
15 October 2014

Ahead of its peaceful walk to protest the Sedition Act tomorrow, the Malaysian Bar has a list of at least a dozen cases of provocative racial and religious remarks since 2012, and wants the police and Attorney-General to explain the status of each to the public.

The list of cases was appended in a document when the Bar passed a resolution at its extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on September 19 that the Sedition Act should be repealed and a protest march be held.

Its president Christopher Leong said it was not for de facto Law Minister Datuk Nancy Shukri to speak of these matters that came under the responsibility of these agencies.

“It is for the police to explain their non-action while the Attorney-General’s Chambers on why it refused to prosecute certain cases,” Leong told The Malaysian Insider.

He said this in response to the barrage of criticism against Nancy, who last week replied on behalf of the public prosecutor that no charges would be framed against Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali for his statement last year that Malay Bibles should be burnt. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jurists worldwide insist Putrajaya protect lawyers rallying against Sedition Act

Malay Mail Online
October 15, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 – An international jurists group urged Putrajaya today to ensure no “police abuse” and disruptions occur during the Malaysian Bar’s planned protest against the Sedition Act 1948 tomorrow.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) — comprising lawyers, judges and academics — noted that a rally against the colonial-era law that was organised by local human rights group Suaram in Penang last Sunday was disrupted by a rival group.

“The Malaysian government is responsible for protecting the rights of those holding dissenting views, and that includes protecting peaceful protesters from police abuse as well as from violent counter protesters,” ICJ’s international legal advisor on Southeast Asia Emerlynne Gil said in a statement today.

“The Sedition Act is being misused with increasing frequency to muzzle legal professionals who express their views about existing laws,” she added. Read the rest of this entry »

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In rare march, lawyers press Putrajaya to show door to Sedition Act

By Ida Lim
Malay Mail Online
October 16, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 ― Malaysian lawyers will trade the courtroom for the streets today, in an uncommon march by the legal profession to demand Putrajaya honour its two-year old pledge to repeal the Sedition Act 1948.

The rare spectacle is set to add to mounting pressure on the government to abolish the colonial-era law whose use in an ongoing crackdown has drawn criticism from both local and international groups including the United Nations.

Christopher Leong, who heads the Malaysian Bar that represents 16,000 lawyers in peninsular Malaysia, pointed out that the prime minister himself has asked moderates to speak up instead of ceding public space to extremists.

“This walk by the Malaysian Bar is part of our response to that call by the prime minister for moderates to stand up and speak out,” Leong said in an interview with local radio station BFM yesterday, adding later that the professional body believes that the national leader was right to decide to pledge the abolition of the law. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib called to account for Sedition Act by Commonwealth lawyers

The Malaysian Insider
15 October 2014

Ahead of the Malaysian Bar’s walk to protest the Sedition Act tomorrow, the German Federal Bar has expressed concern over the use of the law in a letter to Datuk Seri Najib Razak, asking the prime minister for his stand on its widespread against the government’s critics.

The German Bar’s Dr Martin Abend, in a letter dated yesterday, noted that the act had been applied increasingly in Malaysia in the last few months, including against lawyers for voicing their legal opinions.

Abend said that in one particular case, a lawyer’s house was searched and his mobile phone and his laptop seized.

“The German Federal Bar is deeply concerned about these current developments in Malaysia.

“We kindly ask you to inform us if the information available to us is correct and how you view the situation,” Abend said in the letter which was posted on the Malaysian Bar’s website.

He also urged Najib to ensure that the Sedition Act would not be applied to facts relating to the freedom of expression. Read the rest of this entry »

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Zahid to be charged with sedition? Tell it to the Marines!

The Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abdu Bakar announced this morning that the police have recorded a statement from Home Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi over his speech at the Pengkalan Kubor by-election which Perak DAP and DAPSY had made police reports as being “seditious”.

Perak DAP State Secretary Wong Kah Woh and DAPSY chief Teoh Kok Seong lodged the police reports more than three weeks ago on Zahid’s
“seditious” speech inciting racial sentiments, and it makes a total mockery of Zahid’s public oath that the police would investigate “within 24 hours” any sedition police report when the police took more than three weeks to take a statement from the Home Minister, who is the subject matter of the sedition police report.

The timing of the IGP’s announcement on the eve of the Bar Council’s “Solidarity Walk” against the recent blitzkrieg of sedition prosecutions against Pakatan Rakyat leaders, activists and intellectuals is also intriguing – is it to make the point that the police are even-handed and will investigate anyone who is the subject of a sedition police report?

If so, can the police explain why it has not yet investigated the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir although the DAP MP for Segambut Lim Lip Eng lodged separate sedition police reports against the two on Sept. 24 more than three weeks ago? Read the rest of this entry »

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Is reasoning with Najib and UMNO/BN government about iniquities and injustices of Sedition Act a dialogue with the deaf?

Rank and blatant injustices seem to have become the order of the day in Malaysia – five years after Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s premiership.

The latest example is the police arrest of a protestor who held a slipper against a poster of Najib during a protest outside Parliament last Wednesday.

In fact, nobody knew about the incident until the photograph of the man placing his slipper against the Prime Minister’s poster was circulated online by UMNO/BN cybertroopers.

What the protestor did was wrong but all over the country today, Malaysians are asking what type of justice we have in the country when a person could be arrested for being photographed holding a slipper against a poster of the Prime Minister during a protest against fuel subsidy cuts and the goods and services tax (GST) when the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nancy Shukri can tell Parliament that Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali would not be charged over his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible as Ibrahim Ali was defending the sanctity of Islam!

What is worse, Nancy compounded her lack of understanding and insensitivity of the gross injustice of her parliamentary statement with the subsequent clarification that Ibrahim Ali’s action was protected by Article 11(4) of the Malaysian Constitution!

If Ibrahim Ali’s threat to burn the Malay-language Bible is allegedly protected by Article 11(4) of the Constitution, is the protestor photographed holding a slipper against a poster of the Prime Minister protected by Article 10 (1) on freedom of expression? Read the rest of this entry »

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Nancy Shukri has become the template for MCA and Gerakan Ministers seeking to deny the truth instead of facing up to harsh realities

The Minister in the Prime Ministers’ Department, Nancy Shukri, who was in the eye of a national storm for a whole week for her parliamentary answer to the Penang Chief Minister and Bagan MP, Lim Guan Eng, why Perkasa President, Ibrahim Ali was not charged over his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible seems to have become the template and model for MCA and Gerakan Ministers and leaders seeking to deny the truth instead of facing up to harsh realities.

The storm over Nancy’s outrageous reply why Ibrahim Ali was not charged will not end unless and until Nancy faces up to the harsh reality that neither common sense nor the law of the land can accept the defence of Islam or Federal Constitution Article 11(4) as valid reasons to justify threats to burn the Malay-language Bible or any sacred religious scripture enjoying immunity and impunity from lawful prosecutions or sanctions.

Have Malaysian lawlessness reach a stage where the threat to commit crime, subversion or even terrorism can be justified on the ground of defending the sanctity of any religion or the Constitution?

Nancy still owes Parliament and the nation a full apology for her shocking reply and subsequent explanation over why Ibrahim was not charged for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nancy Shukri, Yours is Not to Reason Why?

By Kee Thuan Chye
Yahoo! News
12 Oct 2014

De facto law minister Nancy Shukri is being bombarded left, right and centre for her written reply in Parliament to the question of why Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali has not been charged for his alleged threat last year to burn Malay-language Bibles. And she deserves it.

She has tried to cover up her blunder by insisting that she was not defending Ibrahim Ali’s act and that her critics got her wrong for saying she was. I agree she wasn’t. I agree some of her critics, like Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang, misread her reply – because, as she has claimed, she was merely conveying a justification handed to her by the Attorney-General’s Chambers without herself subscribing to it. She never said in her parliamentary reply that it was all right to burn Bibles to defend Islam. That is true.

Nonetheless, she can’t get away with not facing up to her responsibility. Her passing of the buck to the A-G’s Chambers is not acceptable as an excuse for not doing her job right, which amounts to not doing her homework and not thinking before acting.

In fact, her admission of conveying only what the A-G’s Chambers told her actually makes her look worse. It clearly shows that she was merely acting as a messenger instead of doing her job as a minister. Read the rest of this entry »

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The rise of extremism and death of reason

– Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
13 October 2014

The hostility and animosity targeted at fellow Malaysians whose opposing views may not be in line with the doctrines endorsed by the ruling elite, is dangerously becoming a standardised template used to instil fear in would-be “dissenters”.

Ironically, just a few weeks ago, our prime minister told the world there was a need to “break the cycle where one group gains power only to wield it against another” and to provide an “inclusive” platform that reflects the “pluralistic society” we live in. His speech was nothing more than yet another lip service to appease and deceive international critics – an ideological dishonesty Malaysians have grown to love and hate.

On October 12, 2014, Suaram and GHAH (Gabungan Hapuskan Akta Hasutan) organised a gathering in Penang to call for the abolishment of the Sedition Act. What should have been a peaceful gathering turned into a whirlwind pandemonium, instigated by none other than the usual suspects – hired hooligans from the far right. Just a few minutes after the event started, a mob of Malay men disrupted the event with overzealous fervour, reaffirming that the threat of extremism is fast becoming a disease that may eventually destroy our country.

The ruling elite saturate our society with fear. They tell us to fear the loss of certain socio-political rights, the Communist threat, the Christian agenda and other creative fibs they conjure in order to remain in power. They exploit the fears of those who are most gullible and uninformed. For the rest of us, we can see through the lies and recognise the price our future generation will pay if we allow the rot to perpetuate further. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib’s latest “You help me, I help you” variation at MCA General Assembly offensive and obnoxious for four reasons: run afoul of his pledge to be PM for all, 1Malaysia policy, Global Movement of Moderates initiative and pledge to make Malaysia world’s best democracy

Instead of dissociating or at least distancing itself from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s latest “You help me, I help you” variation first infamously used in the Sibu parliamentary by-election in May 2010 in the MCA annual general assembly yesterday, the MCA President Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai has accused online news portals of “twisting” Najib’s speech to give it a negative image of the government.

It would appear that MCA leaders have a totally different grasp and comprehension of ordinary language when they are made by top UMNO leaders – where arm-twisting language could be understood as friendly advice.

What Najib said at the MCA’s 61st annual general assembly is straightforward and crystal clear – that the Chinese could not make demands from the government and then support Pakatan Rakyat.

Najib had said: “You can’t demand and then support DAP. You can’t demand and then support PR. You demand, you support BN, we will be fair to the Chinese community.”

Najib’s implicit message is obvious – that the Chinese community cannot expect the government to be fair if they do not support the BN. Read the rest of this entry »

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Carrot and stick, and other imaginary monsters in Malaysia

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
12 October 2014

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is confused. He and Barisan Nasional (BN) seem to believe that the wealth, resources and talent in Malaysia belong to them and they can dispense with it at their will.

He doesn’t understand that a political party has to win over people with policies, integrity, consistency, fairness, etc. Bribes do not work. Threats almost always fail.

But yet Najib persists with the carrot-and-stick approach. Before GE13, the BN chairman believed that throwing goodies the way of the Chinese would endear him to the community and by extension, they would support him in the polls.

That strategy failed miserably.

So on the back of being rebuffed at the 2013 elections, Najib has brought out the veiled threats.

Speaking at the MCA annual assembly today, he said the Chinese could not make demands on his government if they continued to support Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

First, his government owns the support of only 47% of the voters. Nearly 52% of Malaysians voted for PR and these include many Chinese, and a sizeable number of Malays, Indians, Kadazans and other indigenous people.

So instead of using a hectoring tone, it would probably be advisable for Najib to show some humility. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nancy Shukri should avail herself of making a Ministerial statement in Parliament to rectify two major errors she committed in Parliament last week

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nancy Shukri, should avail herself of the opportunity of making a Ministerial statement in Parliament to rectify two major errors she committed in Parliament last week.

She committed the first mistake on the first day of Parliament on Tuesday, 7th October, when answering the question by the Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who asked the Prime Minister whether the government’s use of the law against Pakatan Rakyat leaders, activists and intellectuals was in line with the prime minister’s commitment to make Malaysia more democratic.

Defending the blitz of sedition prosecutions and the “white terror” launched by the authorities in the past few months, Nancy claimed that the Malaysian government practises and upholds the doctrine of the separation of powers and as such the government does not interfere in the Attorney-General’s Chambers affairs.

Here, Nancy made the grave error about the doctrine of separation of powers, as the Attorney-General is part of the executive and not the judiciary in the doctrine of separation of powers among the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib’s 2015 Budget overshadowed by outrageous parliamentary replies and blatant government double standards in past three days

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak would not have expected that his 2015 Budget to be presented in Parliament at 4 pm today would have been overshadowed by outrageous parliamentary replies of his Ministers and blatant government double standards in the past three days.

The reply by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nancy Shukri to the Penang Chief Minister and DAP MP for Bagan, Lim Guan Eng, on the first day of the current 28-day Budget Parliament on Tuesday must take the cake for being the most outrageous parliamentary statement in the five-year Najib premiership making even the most affable bristle at the cynical contempt for what is right and wrong.

Nancy said in her reply that no action would be taken on Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali over his threat to burn the Malay-language bible as he was “only defending the sanctity of Islam”.

Nancy did not do herself any favours when she said yesterday that the Attorney-General’s Chambers decided not to prosecute Ibrahim under the Sedition Act because his threat to burn copies of the Bible with the term “Allah” was in line with the federal constitution.

It is time the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Gani Patail surfaces and explain where in the Federal Constitution does it give protection and immunity to Ibrahim to utter threat to burn copies of the Bible with the term Allah. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chasing a generation of globally mobile students

By Helen Warrell
Financial Times
October 7, 2014

More than 150 years ago, the Catholic cardinal John Henry Newman set out his vision for a university as “a place of concourse, whither students come from every quarter for every kind of knowledge”. As students have become more mobile, and higher education institutions more international, Cardinal Newman might be surprised at the truly diverse concourse of the modern education market.

Driving the globalisation of universities are children from the middle classes in emerging economies who aspire to highly skilled jobs. In Asia especially, the development of universities has not kept pace with rising levels of affluence, creating a shortfall of places. As a result, western economies are vying to attract a growing pool of youngsters looking to study abroad. And in fast-growing nations such as India and Brazil, the race to build more universities is on.

Much of this change is necessitated by sheer demographics. More than half of India’s population is under 25 years old; by 2020 it will be ahead of China as the country with the largest population at tertiary-education age. The flow of Chinese students overseas is expected to grow as much as 15 per cent a year until 2018. Already, 2.5m students globally are studying outside their home country, creating a sector worth $30bn a year for the US, the UK, Canada and Australia, according to the Parthenon Group education consultancy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib rejects free consultations

By Mariam Mokhtar
Malaysiakini
Oct 6, 2014

My fellow Malaysians and I have saved the Malaysian government, Najib Abdul Razak and the nation hundreds of millions of ringgits. We provided free consultation services to spruce-up Najib’s image, rebuild trust in public institutions and foster good community race relations; but the ungrateful Najib hates local talent and sent the police after us.

That is why Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism Minister Hasan Malek is wrong when he said that our culture was to “respect our leaders, respect the nation and be grateful”.

Hasan’s attempt to pull more wool over our eyes, has failed. People who “respect” leaders who steal and spin lies, are devoid of any self-respect.

We are hypocrites if we respect a person who tells an international audience that he is a moderate, but allows extremists to roam scot-free. Respecting a leader who robs you is a sign that you lack integrity. No one should be “grateful” to the people who take our money to enrich themselves. Their only reward should be a jail term, courtesy of the Malaysian rakyat. Read the rest of this entry »

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No joke, UM ranked among world-top 300 Universities in Times Higher Education ranking, but this UM is not University of Malaya but a university most Malaysians do not know

I could not believe my eyes when I received an email yesterday proclaiming “UM ranked among world-top 300 universities in Times Higher Education World University Rankings” as every informed Malaysian should know by now after a week-long controversy that University of Malaya had suffered the ignominy of being excluded from annual Times Higher Education (THE) Top 400 University Rankings for the fifth consecutive year since the launch of the series in 2010.

When I opened the email, I found that it was indeed true that “UM ranked among world-top 300 universities in THE rankings” but this UM is not the University of Malaya but an university most Malaysians had never heard of before.
This UM is the University of Macau.

The email contained a press release issued by the University of Macau (UM) on 2nd October 2014 that it had been ranked among the world’s top 300 universities, between 276 and 300, by THE World University Rankings 2014-15, and that “this is the first time UM made the list, and, it should be considered an outstanding and momentum building result because merely a few years ago the university were not in the top 400”.
The “UM” announcement, which was forwarded to me yesterday, went on to say:

“In recent years, UM has made a great effort to improve teaching and research, following international standards and making significant social and global outreach.

“In particular, it carried out a comprehensive reform of its undergraduate curriculum, established the Honours College, incorporated international perspective into its curricula, implemdenting an unique ‘4-in-1’ model of education (which consists of discipline-specific education, general education, research and internship education, as well as peer and community education) and established Asia’s largest and in-depth system of residential colleges.”

The UM statement went on to say that while UM welcomes the good results of THE ranking, “it would nevertheless like to stress that the university is not working for a place in the ranking” but “takes to heart the principal reason of education, namely it works to provide the best education for Macao kids to be outstanding global citizens of the 21st century”.

The University of Macau was founded in 1981 as a private university and only became a public university with Macau’s handover to China in 1999. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can state Islamic authorities decide what you can’t read?

By Zurairi AR
Malay Mail Online
October 9, 2014

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 9 — In a landmark case that will determine the extent of the freedom of expression in Malaysia, the country’s top court will weigh today the constitutionality of a state Shariah law to ban “religious” publications deemed against Islam.

Local publishing house ZI Publications Sdn Bhd and its director Ezra Zaid are challenging a Selangor state law that essentially criminalises any person who “prints, publishes, produces, records, or disseminates in any manner any book or document or any other form of record containing anything which is contrary to Islamic Law”, or “has in his possession any such book, document or other form of record for sale or for the purpose of otherwise disseminating it”.

If found guilty under Section 16(1) of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment 1995, the offender faces a fine not exceeding RM3,000 or two years’ prison, or both.

In addition, Section 16(2) of the same law empowers the state Shariah Court to order any book, document or other form of record to be “forfeited and destroyed”, even when nobody is convicted under Section 16(1). Read the rest of this entry »

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Will Najib mention in his 2015 Budget speech on Friday the exclusion of Malaysian universities from the THE Top 400 University Ranking for fifth successive year?

Will the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak mention in his 2015 Budget speech on Friday the exclusion of Malaysian universities from the Times Higher Education (THE) Top 400 University Ranking 2014 for the fifth successive year?

Or has he forgotten and regretted his challenge to the University of Malaya nine years ago to be among the world’s Top 50 universities by year 2020, which is only five years away?

Three weeks ago, Najib twittered congratulations to the five Malaysian universities which were ranked higher in the Top 400 of the QS World University Ranking 2014, namely University of Malaya (UM) ranked 167 last year to 151; University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) from 269 to 259; University Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) from 355 to 294; Universiti Sains Malaysia from 355 to 309; Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) from 411-420 to 376.

But there has been a deafening silence from Najib as well as from the DPM-cum- Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in the past week over the exclusion of Malaysian universities in Top 400 in another global university ranking – THE University Ranking 2014-2015. Read the rest of this entry »

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