During the Dr Terence Gomez saga, when the University Malaya (UM) vice-chancellor "forced" the resignation of Dr Gomez by refusing to grant Dr Gomez unpaid leave to pursue a short-term assignment with the United Nations, there were many parties who spoke in support of Dr Gomez.
Surprisingly, one of the most vocal parties was the Universiti Malaya academic staff union (PKAUM). The following are excerpts from a news article in Malaysiakini, entitled "Academic staff speak out on issues ailing UM".
Speaking on behalf of the [PKAUM]... Rosli Mahat mentioned three specific issues which ail the nation's oldest university, namely inconsistencies in the promotion of academic personnel, tampering of students' grades and alleged misappropriation of funds in its residential housing development programme.Promotion Irregularities
"In the instance of promotion exercise, through our own investigations we have discovered irregularities at many levels of the process. As employees of the university and members of the academia, we are extremely disappointed in this situation and wish to see it remedied immediately, not least to change the demoralising atmosphere felt (at work) at the moment."This allegation is not new, nor is it unique. There have been many cases of such accusations for the past year. The Deputy Dean of the Law Faculty of Universiti Malaya, Assoc Prof Azmi Shahrom has, in a published article called for greater openness in the academics promotion process. What lends credibility to the allegations is that there is clearly no transparency in the promotion exercises at this point of time as the resumes of the relevant academics are not openly published.
"As academics, it is solely within our purview to decide the grades which students deserve. However, there have been instances in the UM where the final grades have been altered, without the knowledge of the lecturer concerned. Some of theseOnce again, this very serious allegation appears to have been public knowledge and there hasn't been any concrete denials of such practices by the authorities (not that I've heard of anyway). Dr Terence Gomez himself highlighted this issue in a separate interview with Malaysiakini, and I've blogged on it in my post "How to Lower Standards at Our Universities".
grades have even been 'boosted' by 15%. This is a serious problem in the institution at the moment."
Misappropriation of Funds - Corruption?
"The budget for residential housing development is separate from that of the university, and is therefore not subject to audit and scrutiny. Therein lies the problem; we have valid concerns and evidence of discrepancies in the budget allocation process in this area, which can go undetected due to this difference in the administrative structure."Despite having submitted letters of complaints highlighting the above grouses to the Minister of Higher Education, the vice-chancellor himself and even to the Anti-Corruption Agency, there has been no response from the relevant authorities throughout the past few years. Apparently, even a request to meet the honourable Kapten Datuk Professor Dr Hashim has not been entertained. If the UM staff academic union is unable to set an appointment to see their own vice-chancellor, I really wonder, who is able to.
Given the current controversy around the academic standards of University Malaya, I thought it will be useful to raise these issues again, as I've not seen any progressive or positive developments on the above. Instead, all that have happened to date is that Professor Rosli Mahat has been issued with a "show-cause" letter from the vice-chancellor for his support to Dr Terence Gomez during the Gomez controversy.
These are accusations not made by some poorly-informed disenchanted students, but from many respected academic staff of the university itself. I expect these accusations to warrant at the very least, an open investigation to determine their validity.
The Minister of Higher Education, Datuk Dr Shafie Salleh has openly requestedin parliament to "bagi saya chance" last month. I am certain, we would all like to know exactly what positive steps or measures he has taken to address the above allegations which were raised some 6 months ago. Only then, should we decide whether to "bagi [Datuk Dr Shafie] chance".