Why no transparent search committee to pick new University of Malaya Vice Chancellor?

I congratulate former Multimedia University (MMU) Prof Dr. Ghauth Jasmon on his appointment as University of Malaya Vice Chancellor and hope that he could be successful in his tenure to restore the university’s international academic reputation in getting it back not only into the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) Top 200 Universities bracket, but even among the Top 100 Universities.

There have been good reports about Ghauth’s leadership of MMU for 11 years and the circumstances of his departure from MMU reflected adversely on the university than on him.

I have no criticism of Ghauth’s appointment except to question why the process of selection of University of Malaya Vice Chancellor has not been as transparent and above-board as promised by one Higher Education Minister after another.

Nobody seems to know that Datuk Rafiah Salim was to be replaced as UM Vice Chancellor and she herself was given 48 hours’ notice. In fact, nobody knew that a search for a new UM Vice Chancellor was taking place, who sat on the Search Committee and the candidates being considered.

The search process should be an open and transparent one, with those interested in the post able to submit their applications to the Search Committee, so that the best and most qualified, regardless of race or religion, could be chosen to return Malaysian universities to academic excellence and the rank of world’s Top Universities.

  1. #1 by k1980 on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 3:21 pm

    The PM’s missus Jeans Denims should be appointed UM Vice Chancellor of UM, in the same way as his Deputy’s missus was made VC of a university in Selangor. And so should wives of Muhideen and Mat taib. Malaysia Boleh!

  2. #2 by PureMalaysian on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 3:22 pm

    “…so that the best and most qualified, regardless of race or religion…”

    That will be the day when the sun rises from the west.

  3. #3 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 3:42 pm

    Why no transparent search committee to pick new University of Malaya Vice Chancellor?

    That is not new. It has long been UMNO policy to do things in secrecy.

  4. #4 by aliew on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 4:28 pm

    Q: Why no transparent search committee to pick new University of Malaya Vice Chancellor?

    A: Because they are afraid of a non-Malay candidate being picked by the comittee….

  5. #5 by raven77 on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 5:01 pm

    Whatever said and done….the Ministry is doing the right thing by bringing private sector chaps to check the unremitting slide in public universities. Rafiah..had to go…she just could not deliver nor perform. Like many of the other top guns at UM…she was living on a jet plane. Forever on some kursus or meeting overseas. The Ministry of HE must also look into slowly getting rid of almost the entire top management which includes all the Timbalan Vice Chancellors…..only then will the UM or for that matter any of the other universities will have a chance of climbing out of the doldrums. It’s good the Minister sourced someone from the private sector….of course it would have been better if they did not look at skin colour …but change appears to be coming….perhaps the next time …we can hope top see a Malaysian Chinese, Indian, Iban, Kadazan, etc to lead our universities. In improving the standards of universities, the Ministry should focus on cleaning out the entire top management…not much point in just changing the VC….they usually end up as slaves to the local mafia……

  6. #6 by waterfrontcoolie on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 5:15 pm

    This issue does not seem to end. As DSAI said if you put an average Bumi at the top, chances are he will not put a good non-Bumi near himself, he wouldn’t feel secure. In fact, even this statement specks of political undertone. a guy just good enough as a general administrator will never inspire more competitive brains to the U.
    Top US Us are prepared to lurch noble prize winners just to attract better quality students and also other academicians so that brains from all over the world are attracted to study there. Here, they literally chase away brainier-than-them students just to feel secure and to ensure their jobs are still around no matter Whatever the output!

  7. #7 by daryl on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 6:06 pm

    This type of hiring are mostly related to rewarding those faithful to the party. I am not sure who this guy is but the process used by the BN government is always in doubt. It must improve and be more visible in the process.

    If you do a survey among Malays if they want a great educator or a Malay educator I am prety sure the majority will choose a great educator. Unforntunately, BN like to portray that majority of Malay want their kind and it is okay if their kids didn’t get the best education.

  8. #8 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 6:27 pm

    Does it really make a difference whether there is transparent search committee to pick new University of Malaya Vice Chancellor?

    First of all, the appointment of Vice Chancellor has never been based on the “best and most qualified, regardless of race or religion”. So why the need for a transparent search committee?

    Secondly even if the appointment were based on the best within parameters of race and religion, what difference would this “competent” Vice Chancellor be able to make when the higher education policies are structured around affirmative policies of the NEP/NDP that do not meet, and in fact run counter to, the quantitative and qualitative criteria internationally recognised such as that of THES???

    Even the most competent Vice Chancellor – like a top Olympic track athlete with his feet bound – could not reinstate the premiership of the oldest university (UM) (based on international benchmarks) when he is shackled by such restraints/constraints grounded on political than educational criteria.

    One can’t have the politics in the tertiary educational system and yet expect the University’s standard and international ranking improve to satisfy one’s hubris : it is like trying to have one’s cake and eat it at the same time.

    A succession of Higher Education Ministers look to the stars as they talk grandiloquently one after another of enhancing the quality of higher education towards establishing our country as a hub of educational excellence but ignore the big sacred cow of the NEP/NDP in the room, as if it were not there to block the view.

  9. #9 by mauriyaII on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 6:49 pm

    There won’t be any epochal paradigm shift in the mindset of the UMNOputras who demand the last say in anything. Thank God that the dimwit VC from the UiTM was not selected as the VC of MU. That would have been an unmitigated disaster.

    The best of the worst non-bumi would still be better than the best bumi chosen by the UMNOputras. They can’t stand any non-bumi better than them. If there is anything the UMNOputras despise, it is meritocracy.

    Non-bumis can stand on their feet as they have done all these years. The bumis, being brought up on handouts and the crutch mentality, do not stand a chance in a globalized competitive world.

    They should thank the old goat mamak for their plight, making them unfit. From the time the mamak came up with his ‘Malay dilemma’, he made the bumis insecure and dysfunctional. He drove home the point by bringing in pseudo Malays like himself into the game plan to make them competely dependent on vague concepts of supermacy of race and religion. The mamak’s take on racial supermacy was that of a half-breed being better than a real bumi.

    As long as the Malays are under the UMNOputra concept of a superior race, they would remain where they are, left behind the mainstream of progress in every field. They are destined to lag behind with the advent of Mahathirism.

    Unless they break out of the shackles of the thought process set out by the mamak, the light at the end of the tunnel is a long way off.

    The old goat is not interested in the Malay per se. He is more interested in rekindling the fire of his dying dynasty by getting his son, Mukhriz elected to the higher hierarchy of the UMNO.

    With such a cunning and shrewd mentor statesman as the mamak to advise and helm the new PM-to-be, what prospect of meritocracy can the rakyat expect other than mediocrity in every walks of life, be it education, economy or even societal attitudes towards a Malaysian entity.

  10. #10 by rubini on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 7:00 pm

    Need not to talk about the VC of UM. Just look at the quality of the HM’s in primary schoools. Its very simple, the quality of teachers, HM’s, Lecturers, VC are as good as “JAMBAN” in their schools. Unfortunately the vast majority of Malaysians have to live with the JAMBAN quality education in this country.

  11. #11 by kcb on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 7:26 pm

    Very well said, mauriyaII!!!

  12. #12 by andy goh on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - 10:06 pm

    UC Berkeley, California, USA is one of the most reputable universities in the world, in the same league as Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Oxbridge and the like.

    The 8th Chancellor of UC Berkeley was the late Mr Tien Chang-lin.

    He was born in China, then moved to Taiwan, and later immigrated to the US. So he was indeed an IMMIGRANT to the US soil.

    Serving as a Chancellor in a top-notched university, being an immigrant was not seen as a problem to the Americans. Immigrants, past and present time alike, are welcome and valued as an asset there, so much so that they often call themselves as ‘a nation of immigrants’.

    Does that tell us something about them (the Americans) and us?

    Someone would shout in protest: “We can’t compare like this because we are two different countries with different cultures, historical backgrounds, value systems, stages in development, etc.

    Different? Yes, indeed we are !

  13. #13 by GilaPolitic on Wednesday, 12 November 2008 - 12:48 am

    UM is non independent higher education body anymore and yet less transparent for the search committee to pick new University of Malaya Vice Chancellor. It is sick to read the declining standard of tertiary education and felt outside the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) Top 200 Universities bracket. Furthermore, many UM grads are still jobless after graduation for past few years. This is because UM and other local universities standards of tertiary education were bought down over the years to cater the poorer results’ students, race bias selection and political interference in selection committee.

    Now many excellent non-Bumi students prefer to take twinning degrees in other foreign universities rather than picking up UM or other local universities because of too much political influences and less freedom in their tertiary activities in the local universities.

    No point voicing out such dirty spoilt milk in UM or other local universities since you hardly find any smart students here.

    Non-Bumi students will alway said “NO..UM” is more political influenced by UMNO and BN cronies to dictate the next UM VC.

    What a SHAME ?

  14. #14 by disapointed86 on Wednesday, 12 November 2008 - 2:14 am

    aliew Says:
    Yesterday at 16: 28.07

    Q: Why no transparent search committee to pick new University of Malaya Vice Chancellor?

    A: Because they are afraid of a non-Malay candidate being picked by the comittee….

    –> dont think so..i dont think a non-malay wan to step up into this uni…too much political agenda behind..im sure someone is controlling it …roots from education ministry…if a non-muslim happen to be elected(selected), im sure he/she is just a puppet by the mastermind..please and please, LKS, whats the point to be transparent in University level but corrupt in the govt? it wont works ok..our current govt image is already tarnish by the act of most of the BN MP’s..i believe the student coming here to study mostly is from 3rd world country or below..how do you expect to improve the QS Ranking??…pls bear in mind, we must correct the root before we can correct the sub…what we need now is change in govt first…thats the most important thing..

  15. #15 by vsp on Wednesday, 12 November 2008 - 6:14 am

    University Malaysia, being the premier university of the country for a number of years, become the victim of the UMNOputra shortsightedness and incompetency and have become the joke of a university.

    Standards have deteriorated to the level of a kindergarten now that it is better to renamed it as University Mediocracy.

  16. #16 by waterfrontcoolie on Wednesday, 12 November 2008 - 7:17 am

    Do all of you realize the stupid reaction from Umno? the more one of them get criticised, the better is his chance of getting elected in their party! So when someone said that at least the ‘uncouth’ VC of Mara is not appointed, you just wait. Very soon he will.
    Out of spite, these bunch of jokers will sacrifice everything and anything just because someone commented or offered a different opinion!
    They are easily manipulated! Such reaction clearly indicates a lack of confidence in their decisions, like those with complexes,both inferior and superior! They are cofused to say the least.
    Hence in such environment, it may be a good idea to stop sending your children to the gomen schools; at least you can prevent mind-set corruption from such a tender age. With such prevailing condition in the education, this could be a better option. If private schools are too expensive, gather your own groups. especially amongst the many trained teachers who have opted out of the system. you can still study without any formal classroom scenario.
    With computers easily available, this option is possible. May be someone ‘younger’ out there has the energy to do it. For me, I am well retired, though can help out.

  17. #17 by taiking on Wednesday, 12 November 2008 - 9:27 am

    Hei, hei, hei. Wait a second.

    Appoint an acting V-C. Come march next year appoint Badawi as V-C.

  18. #18 by Cinapek on Wednesday, 12 November 2008 - 11:14 am

    Jeffrey is absolutely correct. Changing the VC alone is not going to make any difference if the management structure and the people populating this structure remains the same and the universities continue to be under the thumb of politicians. In fact, anybody smart should not even accept this offer of appointment. It is a poisoned chalice. There is everything to lose and nothing to gain.

    We need a paradigm shift in the entire administration of the university’s structure to bring it back to its glory days. When cancer has set in and set in for a long time, mild medication would not work. You need major surgery.

  19. #19 by Godfather on Wednesday, 12 November 2008 - 11:20 am

    Ghauth Jasmon is not exactly an unknown, unlike his predecessor. Ghauth hails from Kit’s hometown, a graduate of Imperial College, a PhD from Imperial, and a former dean of the engineering faculty of UM. I have known him for 30 years, and if there’s anybody who can juggle the balance between real performance and political necessities, he can.

    Ghauth was also the only Malay representative on the advisory panel for the setting up of UTAR.

    This is a case where if there is transparency (which of course would never happen if the thieves remain in power) then the process could not have chosen a better person for the job.

  20. #20 by sayaAnakMalaysia on Wednesday, 12 November 2008 - 12:32 pm

    To all YB Lim Kit Siang supporters:
    Please do not forget that most of the local lectures including top administrators and students are not UMNO supporters. The lecturers are not good enough to be considered world-class. Promotions must be based on academic/research excellence only, based on publications not award winning products or administrative experience!

    Minister of MOHE must not allow lecturers to participate in International exhibitions UNLESS the world’s top 10 Universities are also involved. Do not send lecturers to overseas UNLESS really necessary. Spend the money wisely.Stop wasting public funds.

    Just adopt the NUS principles, then Universiti Malaya willl have no problem to be listed in Top 100.

  21. #21 by winterman05 on Wednesday, 12 November 2008 - 6:19 pm

    I just came to know that a new Vice-Chancellor in Prof. Dr. Ghauth Dasmon was appointed to replace Datuk Rafiah Salim. This sudden move , with prior notice, must have shocked the academia to its roots. Was there a man-hunt in the world Universities like Harvard, Yale, Cambridge and Oxford— the top four in world rankings as announced by Times Higher Education assessment— to man the premier University of Malaysia? Unless this high-level search was made, it would be a futile exercise of self-glory, without world recognition.

    Oftentimes, our top leaders had trumpeted to the world that they would like Malaysia to be the HUB of Educational Excellence, filled with “towering Malaysians ( or is it towering Malays? ) “, ” glokal Malaysians ( or is it glokal Malays) ? How do you attain such glorious goals when the mentality is fixated that the Vice-Chancellors should be of one colour? It is an illusionary goal which even David Copperfield would not be able to envision! This same mind-set is apparent in the recent outburst against the Selangor PKNS being headed bya Non-Malay, a lady to boot! Even after the March General Elections, it became repugnant that a DAP leader could not be a MB of Perak, because the simple concept that the Party leader that holds the majority support should head the State! This puts paid the concept of democracy where the majority rules. Then , much earlier , MAS was looking for a CEO/ MD who could turn the airline from red to black in the profit margin; and one senior UMNO said, whatever happens, the man should be a Bumiputra! Never, if it continues to lose money; never if it goes bankrupt. Pick a Malay by all means! What sort of coconut head he has! And when a man from Shell( datuk Idris Jalal ) was picked, this same man said that MAS, the symbol of Malay supremacy in business, should never sell the mAS headquarters! Why, it would be a shame to Malay entrepreneurship. Agaisnt such advicde, the practical-minded Datuk Jalal went ahead with teh sale of the building; and he was prepared to go to the old Airport terminal in Subang to have his whole Administration set-up. Again, look at the mentality of the UMNO man! Woe to Malaysians if such a shallow-minded man is head of the nation! The nation will go down the drain in no time.

    There was another stupid suggestion to have our sportsmen and sports-women trained in UK. This si ahigh-performance tarining course! And at very high cost to train just a few players! Was thsi an excuse for officials to have grand time in cold clime? Did our earlier heroes and heroines in the sports arena train overseas?Eddy Choong, Tan Boon Bee, Ng Yee Khan, Misbun, Razif, Rashid, Dr. Jegathesan, etc train overseas? Look at Hartono, the Badminton great. Did he train in a cold country? Look at the best palyers in Football like Pele, Maradona,etc. Where were they trained? They played in the streets of Brazil and Argentina!

    So, we must get the mentality that only players trained in cold countries can excel in sports. The long-distance runners are from the hot countries of Africa!
    Now, Obama is the President-elect of USA! Was it his colour that won the day ? In spite of his colour, he won in a majority-white nation!

    IF, yes if we want to be great, we should look beyond colour as a criterion in any high office, and even low office. Choose ” the best and the brightest” as President John F. Kenendy advocated.

    You want Nobel -prize winners from malaysia, you have a long, rough road. You want to be the best in the world? Then , you must get the best to man Universities, Colleges, schools. If you don’t, then do not boast and dream; you will never achieve high goals with low mentality.

    If you cannot get people among Malaysians , then get people from overseas! That is the way forward. Change is in the air! USA has changed. Malaysia has also changed.

    S.H. Huang

  22. #22 by disapointed86 on Thursday, 13 November 2008 - 5:17 am

    i’ve agreed all what u’ve uttered..jus that i dont agree with u about the “UK exposure”/”UK training” from what you’ve mentioned..you gave an example of badminton..of cos we dont nid to send them there to train..in term of “Badminton”, we are better compare to UK..and u talked about pele and maradono, of cos they dont nid to be sent to UK rite..Argentina is one of the powerhouse in football…ya i agreed that if u send those malaysian football players to UK, it does’nt really improve the standard as our footballer dont have that kind of mentality and skill..just see our footballer in the reason Chelsea vs Malaysia match..2-0 ended..all the Malaysian footballer celebrate as if the result was going there way!! why!!!???…if you want to improve you must not easily be satisfied….hope you understand what i mean… UK footballers don come malaysia to train..why??..they dont need to..

  23. #23 by trublumsian on Thursday, 13 November 2008 - 7:47 am

    the fundamental problem with UM is lack of meritocracy, installing jasmon as vc will not change a thing, akin to changing the pot but not the stew ~ it remains to be seen if umno creates the same handicap faced by zaid the ex-defacto law minister.

  24. #24 by frankyapp on Thursday, 13 November 2008 - 1:25 pm

    You guys just don’t get it It’s just wasting time to talk about meritocracy.The UMNO policy is always and will always be malay supremancy or ketuanan malayu .The selection is 100% reserved for their kind but only for their relatives,supporters,members and cronies.Go check it out to prove me wrong .

  25. #25 by Ramesh Laxman on Thursday, 13 November 2008 - 10:06 pm

    There is no such thing as a good university. There are only good students and good teachers. Together they make a good university.

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