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LKS seeks meeting with Shafie Salleh as unjust and discriminatory UKM termination of contract of Professor P. Ramasamy another example of the worsening crisis of higher education when Malaysian universities should be attracting the best of Malaysian and international talent
(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The unjust, selective and discriminatory termination of contract of employment of Professor P. Ramasamy as Professor in the Centre for History, Political Science and Strategic Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, University Kebangsaan Malaysia with a month’s notice to take effect from August 26, 2005 is the latest example of the worsening crisis of higher education in Malaysia – coming close on the heel of the Terence Gomez affair, where the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had to intervene to direct the University of Malaya to approve the two-year secondment of Dr. Gomez to the prestigious United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) in Geneva.
The Professor Ramasamy episode is further proof that there is a sore lack of vision and leadership among those entrusted with the management of public universities to chart out a strategy of academic excellence, as instead of attracting the best of Malaysian and international talent they seem more interested in petty and small-minded pursuits to ensure conformity and mediocrity among the academicians and the student population..
It is very depressing to compare the university landscape in Malaysia and the neighbouring country, Singapore.
The premier universities of Malaysia and Singapore, the University of Malaya and the National University of Singapore (NUS), which traced a common origin, are both celebrating their centennial this year.
At the University of Malaya centennial celebration on July 16, 2005, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak challenged University of Malaya, which is ranked No. 89 in the 2004 Times Higher Education Supplement global ranking of the World’s Best 200 Universities, to be ranked among the top 50 universities by 2020. Universiti Malaya Vice Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr. Hashim Yaacob was visibly greatly relieved at such a modest challenge.
In Singapore, Najib’s counterpart Tony Tan also partook in the National University of Singapore centennial celebrations and threw NUS a challenge on June 30, 2005 – for NUS, ranked No. 18, to be among the Top 10 in the world.
Two weeks later, the NUS President Professor Shih Choon Fong rose up to the challenge at the NUS centennial commencement dinner.
He noted that at present there is no university in Asia which enjoys peer recognition as one of the world’s top 10, although “with the dynamism of Asia propelled by the rising economies of China and India…within the next two decades, the Top 10 club will include an Asian member.”
Expressing his vision for NUS to be the first Asian university in the Top 10 club, he said: “Being in the top 10 in the world is something worthy to strive for. This is not an ego trip. As a Top 10 university, NUS can help propel Singapore’s development as a dynamic global city in a knowledge-based, innovation-driven world economy”.
The second Singapore public university, the Nanyang Technological University, has set up a new Institute of Advance Studies, appointing seven Nobel Science Laureates as advisors, and is talking about its ambition to be the first to produce Singapore Nobel Laureate.
When will Malaysia have university vice chancellors who are prepared to aim high for their universities in world recognition for academic excellence, in response to the Prime Minister’s call for “towering Malaysians” and the Deputy Prime Minister’s call for “Glocal Malaysians”?
Unfortunately, what we see are only pettiness and spite in the local university landscape, as highlighted by the Terence Gomez and P. Ramasamy episodes.
In his speech at the University of Malaya centennial celebrations, Najib had urged public universities to develop a system to retain professors and intellectuals who are due to retire to ensure such individuals can continue to contribute their knowledge, expertise and ideas.
What UKM is doing in the Ramasamy case is the exact opposite to Najib’s call. The Higher Education Minister, Datuk Shafie Salleh should intervene to ensure that UKM continue to retain Prof Ramasamy’s services.
I am seeking a meeting with Datuk Shafie on Ramasamy’s case as well as to discuss the deterioration of higher education crisis in the country.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman