Shafie Salleh should explain
why the post of Chairman of Board of Directors of University of Malaya was
kept vacant for three months at a critical time when the university was
suffering serious haemorrhage of national and international confidence
because of the mishandling of the Terence Gomez debacle
Media Conference Statement (2)
(Ipoh, Monday): The Minister for Higher Education, Datuk Dr. Shafie Salleh should explain why the post of Chairman of Board of Directors of University of Malaya (UM) was kept vacant for three months at a critical time when the university was suffering serious haemorrhage of national and international confidence because of the mishandling of the Terence Gomez debacle by the UM Vice Chancellor, Dr. Hashim Yaacob.
The UM Board of Directors had been without a Chairman and leaderless since February, when Tan Sri Mohamed Khatib bin Abdul Hamid, Chairman of Institut Jantong Negara and former Malaysian Ambassador to Japan, completed his term of appointment.
The Terence Gomez debacle has done great damage to the main planks of the reform programme of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to end the “First-World Infrastructure, Third-World Mentality” Malaysian malaise so that the country can be truly competitive in the global marketplace by creating the environment to produce “towering Malaysian personalities”.
It is tragic that leaders who should be the key implementers of Abdullah’s vision seem to be totally ignorant about the implications to the Prime Minister’s programme and slogan for “Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang” (Excellence, Glory and Distinction) when short-sighted and self-defeating policies and measures like the Terence Gomez debacle continue to occur in the country.
If Malaysian universities have no room for the “best and brightest” of Malaysian intellectuals, like Dr. Terence Gomez who is forced to resign to take up the prestigious United Nations research appointment, then what “Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang” are the Minister for Higher Education and the University of Malaya Vice Chancellor talking about?
There should be no more delay in the appointment of the Chairman for the UM Board of Directors who could provide the leadership and the academic statesmanship to restore national and international confidence in the University of Malaya for its academic excellence and robust intellectual environment by resolving the Terence Gomez debacle – granting approval for his two-year secondment to the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) in Geneva, Switzerland as well as two-year unpaid leave for his wife, Dr Sharmani Patricia Gabriel to join him in Geneva with their children.
The Terence Gomez debacle has highlighted the obstacles that will afflict the Malaysian universities in their quest for international recognition for excellence and quality when the most important criteria for key appointments like Vice Chancellor is political loyalty, which can only lead to the most undesirable personal politicization of the local universities.
It is already more than two weeks ago since my office had asked for an appointment for me with the UN Vice Chancellor, but it would appear that Dr. Hashim has no confidence that he is intellectually and academically correct in his handling of the Terence Gomez debacle, which is the only explanation why he has been avoiding me.
The Terence Gomez debacle as is another symbol of the deplorable state of higher education crisis in Malaysia. All Malaysians who want the best for their children and country should be concerned about higher education policies which stunt the growth of potentials and talents of Malaysians and undermine Malaysia’s international competitiveness.
For this reason, I urge Malaysians from all over the country, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation, to express their concern for the restoration of the higher education standards and quality in Malaysia, particularly the University of Malaya, by attending the “Solidarity with Dr. Terence Gomez” dinner in Kelana Seafood Centre, Kelana Jaya , Selangor on Monday, 13th June at 8.30 p.m.
* Lim Kit Siang,
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman