Archive for March 5th, 2007

Haslinda vs EPF

vs EPF

One of the buzzwords in vogue when Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over as the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia was “quality public service delivery”.

At the first Cabinet meeting he chaired as Prime Minister on 5th November 2003, Abdullah directed every Minister to set up a task force to cut red tape, fight corruption and deliver quality public service.

Abdullah is in his fourth year of premiership, but all these buzzwords have come to nought to the extent he has to set up a high-powered committee to review why these reforms had failed in the past three years.

Even the EPF, a quite efficient outfit in the past, seemed to be afflicted by the new malaise of service inefficiency and indifference as highlighted by the plight of UiTM final-year student who, thanks to EPF, is in danger of losing her student status. And this affects not just Haslinda but all similarly-placed students.

I will phone the new EPF Chairman Tan Sri Samsudin Osman tomorrow and hope that the newly-retired Chief Secretary to the Government will have a satisfactory response.

Haslinda’s fax to the EPF Chairman follows: Read the rest of this entry »


WR 2007 – Best-ranked Malaysian university USM (1193) behind eight Thai and two Indonesian universities

Top Malaysian Universities (World Rank) 2007

On Saturday, I had said that Malaysian universities are still in the international backwaters with the country fighting a losing battle to enhance international competitiveness in the quest for academic excellence and university quality — pointing out that Malaysian universities have been omitted in the 2007 Webometrics Ranking (WR) of 3,000 Premier Universities, based on their commitment to Web publication and to the Open Access initiatives.

I said that the National University of Singapore tops the Asian universities in the WR, ranked No. 139 internationally, with the Nanyang Technological University ranked No. 18 among the top Asian universities. Chulalongkorn University of Thailand has again confirmed that it is recognised internationally as in various recent world universities rankings as of superior quality to all the 17 Malaysian universities. Chulalongkorn University is ranked No. 21 among the top Asian universities and No. 505 in the world ranking of 3,000 Premier Universities.

I found that I had made a mistaken when I downloaded the 3,000 universities for more detailed study as there are 10 Malaysian universities in the WR list, but they rank from No. 1193 for Universiti Sains Malaysia to No. 2969 for University Malaysia Sabah.

The Higher Education Ministry and the ten universities ranked in the Webometrics Ranking (WR) of 3,000 Premier Universities cannot be unaware of my mistake, but for 48 hours there had been no attempt by anyone of them at correction or clarification. Why?

Clearly, they are all too shy to point out the mistake, for it will only highlight their lowly ranking in the WR list.

This is because the best Malaysian university ranked in the 2007 Webometrics Ranking (WR) of 3,000 Premier Universities, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) is not only ranked No. 1193, and is ranked behind eight Thai universities and two Indonesian universities — showing how serious had been the drop and decline of Malaysian universities standards for the past three decades even for the region of Southeast Asia. Read the rest of this entry »


RM5 million “Freedom for Sale” scandal – call for Royal Commission of Inquiry

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s response today to the recent spate of reports alleging high-profile corruption in his administration is very weak, lackluster and most disappointing, reinforcing public exasperation at his lack of political will to “walk the talk” to root out corruption and lead an administration which has zero tolerance for corruption.

Speaking at the monthly assembly of the Prime Minister’s Department, Abdullah gave the assurance that action will be taken against those involved in corruption, while those who do not indulge in such practices should have no fear.

He said: “Of course no one wants corruption. Action must be taken. Those who are innocent need not worry.”

He pointed out that what was important was that investigations on allegations of corruption must be carried out in the most just manner.

He even said that generally 85 percent of the reports submitted pertaining to accusations of corrupt practices were unfounded.

Abdullah seems to be unaware that his administration which in a fortnight’s time will be marking the third anniversary of its unprecedented landslide 2004 general election victory on a platform of anti-corruption is facing a crisis of confidence, firstly, because of the failure to produce results in the anti-corruption front and secondly because of the recent spate of allegations of high-profile corruption, such as involving the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) Director-General, Datuk Seri Datuk Zulkipli Mat Noor and the latest involving Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Mohd Johari Baharom – that the latter had received a bribe of over RM5 million for the release of three criminals who had been detained under the Emergency Ordinance.

This is not the time for Abdullah to trot out pedestrian and uninspiring statements of “Have No Fear If You’re Clean” to top political and government leaders, but to convince Malaysians, intending foreign investors and the international community of his political will and commitment to combat corruption at all levels of society by ensuring that anti-corruption investigations into the recent spate of high-level corruption allegations would be conducted by an independent and fearless body which will command unchallenged national and international confidence.

For this reason, I call on the Cabinet on Wednesday to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the “freedom for sale” corruption scandal to stop the latest haemorrhage of public confidence in the political will and commitment of the Prime Minister to root out high-level corruption. Read the rest of this entry »


ACA trying to derail task force investigations into ACA chief’s corruption allegations?

Investigations into the serious corruption allegations against the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) director general Datuk Seri Zulkipli Mat Noor is getting even more curiouser and curiouser by the day.

The attempt by ACA’s former Disciplinary Management Centre chief and currently ACA Negri Sembilan director, Halim Ibrahim to publicly exonerate the ACA chief by revealing details of Zulkipli’s various declaration of assets in public service is not only most unusual, unprecedented but questionable.

Is the ACA trying to derail and sabotage task force investigations into serious corruption allegations against ACA chief by unilaterally releasing unverified information about Zulkifli’s assets declarations? Read the rest of this entry »


When Philosophy meets Religion

When Philosophy meets Religion
Azly Rahman
[email protected]

-An Invitation to a Virtual Interfaith Dialogue

Humanity cannot live by bread or rice alone – it needs transcultural philosophy as a foundation of morality.

The philosophical dimension of religion can be more powerful than its institutional and ritual. It should be through the philosophy of religion that one can explore the essence of the dialogue between what Hassidic philosopher Martin Buber calls, the “Thou and the I”, the Ultimate Self and the Ultimate Reality, or between Man and Creator. This is what is meant by the transcultural nature of mystical discourse. Those familiar with Buber’s philosophy will agree that the idea of the dialogical “I-Thou” contains a profound statement of Man’s ontological vocation, a transcultural-philosophical view can best be an avenue which can appeal to educational philosophers intending to explore universality in mystical thoughts.

For societies struggling to understand the potentials of an interfaith dialogue, this idea can be a good starting point for a powerful discourse. Read the rest of this entry »