Public U – end obsession with commercial baubles at int. exhibitions

The Higher Education Minister, Datuk Mustapha Mohamad should slash drastically participation of Malaysian public universities at the 35th Geneva International Exhibition on Inventions April 18-22 to end the obsession with commercial baubles which completely distracts from the search for international academic and research excellence.

I had in the past criticized public universities, particularly University of Malaya and Universiti Sains Malaysia, for their distorted sense of priorities in surrendering their prestigious slots in international best-university rankings and finding comfort instead in easy-to-get gold, silver and bronze medals in foreign exchibitions like the Geneva International Exhibition on Inventions, Products and Services.

Although the Barisan Nasional MP for Ayer Hitam, Dr. Wee Ka Siong, spoke up in Parliament last week against the millions forked out by public universities for these commercial medals with little academic merit, this issue had been blogged by Tony Pua, Economic Adviser to DAP Secretary-General, on 25th November 2005, where he wrote:

My concern is that there appears to be a very unhealthy trend to seek trade fairs glory amongst Malaysian universities and academics. Earlier this year, Universiti Malaya (UM) proudly announced it’s “fantastic” achievements at the 33rd International Exhibition of Inventions, New Techniques & Products in Geneva, securing 33 medals comprising of 19 Golds, 11 Silvers and 3 Bronzes.

My question is, are trade fairs the best places to “judge” the quality of a university or an academic’s research, publication or inventions? With all due respect to “trade fairs”, the objectives of such fairs are typically not to judge the quality of one’s works but to actually create a “meeting place” between the “inventors” and the potential buyers or investors.

As the world’s best 100 or 200 universities do not have to participate in the Geneva International Exhibition on Inventions, why are Malaysian public universities splashing millions of ringgit every year for these commercial baubles when the money should be better spent in the pursuit of academic and research quality and excellence?

Malaysia is slated this year to submit the second highest number of entries after Russia for the Geneva International Exhibition on Inventions from April 18-22, 2007.

Mustapha should come to Parliament to announce a drastic slashing of such participation and a new policy for public universities to end their obsession with such commercial baubles costing millions of ringgit a year when they do nothing to get the Malaysian public universities restored into the world’s top and best 100 or 200 universities.

In this connection, I have received the following email from a whistleblower from UNIMAS, which I hope Mustapha could also enlighten Parliament on Monday during the winding up on the Higher Education Ministry in the Royal Address debate:

Geneva Here I come!

I write to inform you that despite the criticisms of YB Wee (Universities forking out millions for dubious awards). Universiti Malaysia Sarawak is still going to the Geneva Exhibition. Infact UNIMAS is sending half a dozen group to take part again. Since it is sure thing, I expect UNIMAS to come back with “Gold” medals. UNIMAS went to town last year boasting that it had won “gold” medals!
UNIMAS has to take part because its staff are totally incapable of publishing in real academic journals. UNIMAS’s most competent researcher, Jane Cardosa, who is an expert in virology often called by the UN, is totally isolated on campus. The UNIMAS management don’t like her because she is a real academic so they isolate her. The don’t give her any funding as all her funding are from overseas. Unlike the other UNIMAS kankong professors, she has refused to take part in the exhibitions! They even threatened not to renew her contract!

UNIMAS Boleh in Bolehland! The DVC announed that UNIMAS will spend more than RM100,000 this year for the exhibition which will be held end of april but its only money!!

  1. #1 by Sergei on Friday, 6 April 2007 - 4:48 pm

    How to slash the participation at the last minute? Can we close an eye for this last time?

  2. #2 by k1980 on Friday, 6 April 2007 - 4:53 pm

    This is like a kindergarten graduation ceremony where every kid is given a scroll. After all, their parents are charged an arm and a leg to enroll their kids there

  3. #3 by azk on Friday, 6 April 2007 - 4:56 pm

    eh.. what the heck that Mary Jane doing there… this country is no place for such brain. We only welcome idiots…

  4. #4 by azk on Friday, 6 April 2007 - 5:00 pm

    .. or if you convert a certain religion, change your name.. maybe you can stay…

  5. #5 by vesewe on Friday, 6 April 2007 - 5:08 pm


  6. #6 by HJ Angus on Friday, 6 April 2007 - 5:41 pm

    Some international exposure is not really bad.

    It would be more acceptable if the universities select the top three entries based on commercial value and send those for the exhibition.

    They can also ask the organisers to hold the exhibition in various cities so that the host nation can submit more entries.

    But that will mean no annual trips to Geneva!

  7. #7 by ahkok1982 on Friday, 6 April 2007 - 7:45 pm

    Hey all, something out of topic but just as interesting… stupid gamen gonna bribe Machap people into voting for them…

    MALACCA: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that the government has approved an RM540,000 allocation to the three Felda schemes in Machap, near here.

    The allocation for Felda Tun Ghafar Machap is RM310,000, which is RM100,000 for mosque repairs and upgrading, RM80,000 to build a new library, another RM80 to upgrade the Feldas balairaya, RM30,000 to repair the Kampung Permai surau and another RM20,000 to fence up the cemetery grounds.

    Felda Tun Ghafar Hutan Percha received an allocation of RM100,000 to repair its mosque and Felda Ghafar Menggong received an allocation of RM35,000 for fencing and wiring for its mosque.

    Najib also launched on Friday the Gugusan Tun Ghafar, where the states six Felda schemes – Felda Kemendore, Felda Air Kangkong, Felda Machap, Felda Menggong, Felda Hutan Percha and Felda Bukit Senggeh were renamed.

    The schemes are now known as Felda Tun Ghafar Kemendore, Felda Tun Ghafar Air Kangkong, Felda Tun Ghafar machap, Felda Tun Ghafar Menggong, Felda Tun Ghafar Hutan Percha and Felda Tun Ghafar Bukit Senggeh.

    “It is the Felda and state governments responsibility to take care of the cluster (gugusan) so that the village continues to progress and the quality of life increases.

    “And in line with our strife to change the peoples lives, it is only apt that today, I hand over 102 housing lots grants to the second generation”, said Najib

    lets just see how resolved or how stupid machap people can be. lets see if they will still continue to vote for thieves and liars.

    anyway, one thing which really interests me is that IF, after this announcement of pouring money into Machap and yet the DAP still wins the seat there, would they still pour their money in or will they just cancel what they said like it doesnt mean anything (as usual). jjust a thought.

  8. #8 by shortie kiasu on Friday, 6 April 2007 - 8:10 pm

    Like all other public flip-flop policies by the ruling parties, these people never get their priorities right.

    Fortunately there are some sensible whistle blowers around to provide some hawking over these suckers.

  9. #9 by tsn on Friday, 6 April 2007 - 8:51 pm

    There is a famous Hokkien saying: No fish, prawn also can-lah.

    Only this small prawn cause taxpayers to bleed. Too bad.

  10. #10 by Pengajar on Friday, 6 April 2007 - 10:53 pm

    It would mean:
    more exposure to the world for Malaysia
    more trade opportunities
    more income
    more chances for job creation
    more room for improvement
    more ability to think far and wide
    more trust because of the word ” university ”
    more educational opportunities
    more preparation to welcome Vision 2020

    May be the role of university has changed.

  11. #11 by Sense of Belonging on Friday, 6 April 2007 - 11:10 pm

    Well , in LAME people’s mind…when they compete 100 times and lost 100 times in a field, instead of learning from the mistakes, they escape from it…
    From there, then they found a field which they can have the “Feel Good” feeling and they found it!!
    They live happily ever after until the “bad guy” Ayer Hitam MP come and question the field.
    Too BAD….

  12. #12 by grumpy on Friday, 6 April 2007 - 11:42 pm

    I hope the govt will no longer justify these antics as opportunities for commercialization or trade. This episode shows that the university officers are clueless about patent laws and inventions. If there is truly an invention, one would not tell the world until it is patented, i.e. an inventor would keep it a trade secret until the patent is filed or awarded. Because patent application is an expensive legal process, if a Malaysian university really has an invention, they should spend the money to file a patent application instead of going to Geneva. If they truly have hundreds of inventions, according to the medals they got over the years, Malaysia would not have to worry because you would be better than MIT.

  13. #13 by Rocky on Saturday, 7 April 2007 - 2:23 am

    # Pengajar Says:
    April 6th, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    It would mean:
    more exposure to the world for Malaysia
    more trade opportunities
    more income
    more chances for job creation
    more room for improvement
    more ability to think far and wide
    more trust because of the word ” university ”
    more educational opportunities
    more preparation to welcome Vision 2020

    May be the role of university has changed.

    Pengajar – can you quantify what you are saying here?

    What is the exposure? how goes there and who carries the news on the gold medals?

    Are these gold medals all trade opportunities, name me 5 that have made it as trade items/opportunity since we have so many gold medals Income for who? How do they create jobs by participating in the shows. Jobs for the show organiser and the Geneva area, YES!!!

    No time for this. Msian university all syok sendiri but ranking going down and quality is down.

  14. #14 by wtf2 on Saturday, 7 April 2007 - 8:37 am

    global embarassment did any really prestigious U participate ? ….Malaysian U just can’t make it. Small minds lepak culture cannot handle big things…

  15. #15 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 7 April 2007 - 8:50 am

    The problem with this issue is if you argue about waste, other departments,agencies and even municipal councils waste EVEN MORE money on such junkets.

    If you argue distracting from academic excellence, the prevailing mediocrity says its too hard and unachievable to focus on academic excellence (those they want to succeed anyway).

    So long as the argument over who should win and lose if far more important than anything else, waste and failure is totally acceptable..

  16. #16 by madmix on Saturday, 7 April 2007 - 10:24 am

    Publish so difficult lah. send to many peer review journals, most reject. But go to Geneva? wah free holiday. After Geneva, can take side trips to se other sights in Europe. This year my turn to go with my super duper invention to make coconut husk fibre board. Next year you go with your oilpalm waste composting thingy.

  17. #17 by smeagroo on Saturday, 7 April 2007 - 12:37 pm

    All these are just the “shiok sendiri” syndrome. They “feel good” and can boast of achieveing something and they proudly show off their medals in kampungs. It is akin to winning a SEA games medal in “galah panjang”.

  18. #18 by ahkok1982 on Saturday, 7 April 2007 - 8:13 pm

    don b suprised tt these ppl will pay big money to get a little bit of “glory” which is used as a laughing matter for real academics. i’ve seen patents stupid enough to make u cry. i wonder if they came fr bodoh-land universities. believe it, i’ve seen a patent called: laser thingy to play with cat.

  19. #19 by dawsheng on Saturday, 7 April 2007 - 10:55 pm

    As unreasonable as anyone can get, universities in Malaysia defies the norm in a desperate attempt to prove that they are worth taxpayer’s money.

    Is been years of critisicm fom many people that the only way education in Malaysia can progress is to drop the quota of non-bumi admission in public U and let meritocary takes its merit. Our Malay counterpart is never comfortable when others are better than them, for them is not Malaysian that matters but Malay is. Well, even with the restriction, it is fact that non-bumi has done Malaysia proud over the years, proved once an for all if what it takes for one to be successful, he or she does not need NEP.

    Pride is worthless when others can’t appreciate it, command no respect and make no sense as well. The rules in Malaysia might be different today, but as part as the global community how long do you think people will play by your rule? New rules are invented everyday as socitey modernize, those who sticks to one are bound to be left out. And I think this is happening to us.

  20. #20 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Sunday, 8 April 2007 - 3:09 am

    ahkok1982 Says:

    April 6th, 2007 at 7:45 pm
    Hey all, something out of topic but just as interesting… stupid gamen gonna bribe Machap people into voting for them…

    MALACCA: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that the government has approved an RM540,000 allocation to the three Felda schemes in Machap, near here.

    Holy cow! It is a fact proven again and again from recent experience that ADUNs and MPs do the greatest service to their constituencies by dying!

    Every by-election BN dishes ot the goodies, the land titles, the allocations for infrastructures etc. etc. running into millions of ringgit. First Batu Talam, now Machap, then Ijok…..I am beginning to wish there will be more to come….all from BN constituencies, prayerfully – constituency by constituency, state by state and then throughout the country …sweeping like a plague in ancient Egypt wiping off the curse of the land and bringing in great benefits and boom to the inhabitants of these places.

    Well, if God chooses to use this method to purge the land, who am I to say anything.

    I will merely say, Amen. Thy will be done.

  21. #21 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Sunday, 8 April 2007 - 3:26 am

    As for Univesity baubles, well….

    “What counts in a boat is design and sea-worthiness, not the meretricious attractions of newness” (New Yorker).


    What counts in a university is the quality of scholarship, research and innovation – not participation in meretricious trade fairs and the brandishing of baubles or the acquisition of sham awards.

    YB Mustapha – if you don’t put a stop to this nonsense, good grief, then you would be a party to the shameless and disgraceful degradation of Malaysian universities into baubles (i.e. trivial and useless trinkets)! Imagine how your alma mater in Australia would laugh at you and rue the day they gave you your first-class honours. You will have to at least show that your first-class honours, the only one in the entire ‘kitchen’ Cabinet is worth something. Otherwise, it will also confirm that your degree was probably a fluke.

  22. #22 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 8 April 2007 - 7:54 am

    Listening to the video of the interview with DAP heavyweights, I think the DAP is playing the game BN wants them to play. BN has got DAP where it wants.

    The absence of PKR heavyweights in Machang does not bode well for the cooperation between the two and their future together. I can see cracks developing in the strategy employed.

    DAP/PKR should employ a competent strategist to plot the path towards victory. I hear Republican strategist Karl Rove may need a job soon.

  23. #23 by ginasai on Monday, 16 April 2007 - 5:48 am

    hahaha… I love to know that finally somebody did ‘reveal to the public’ a rotten, useless & purposeless practice by Msia IPTA… I was there sometime as a lecturer & I know exactly what they’re (lecturer, staff etc) doing… their publication is nothing but useless conferences, proceedings, expos etc… very few of them actually publishing in a reputable international journal… i.e. top-10 in their field by citation index for example… the annual assessment is based on conferences & expos medal & ‘who you know’ rather than actual international academic contribution like peer reviewer & publication in a recognised international journal… they also cannot see others making progress & if you did it they will give you a bad assessment mark & that will denied your chance of promotion/confrimation… regarding the quality of lecturer in local U…. at least 60% of them are not suppose to be there especially the new Univ… they simply don’t have ‘enough’ academic merit & research strength… some 10% even come from ‘tought’ MSc…. well… tought MSc isn’t a degree, because everybody will get B+ & above for any subject they registered in that course… with just 4 lecture/semester = 4 lecture/subject & got good result… a friend of mine is teaching those course as well & he said “I’m coming for money & you come for grade”… but I really really wonder why soooooo many of those tought MSc end-up in academic line as a lecturer…. what a shame…
    ****to pengajar***
    you don’t understand anything about academic life (especially Univ) if you still saying geneva will produce all the ‘more’ that u’ve mention above…

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