I found out from Sdr Lim Kit Siang's blog that the contract for Kapten Datuk Professor Dr Hashim Yaacob as the vice-chancellor of Universiti Malaya will be ending by the end of this month. That's just less than 2 weeks away.
Obviously that doesn't mean that his contract will not be renewed. However, given the penchance of the current vice-chancellor to make himself heard in the press, and the fact that it has been all silent on that front makes the possibility of a replacement being seeked a real one. After all, it is well known in the university circles that the renewal of the contract of an incumbent vice-chancellor is typically done 2 months or so prior to the end of the contract.
Kapten Datuk Professor Dr Hashim Yaacob will be disappointed that the former Minister of Higher Education with whom he has clearly established a "close" working relationship came to an end just before his contract is up for renewal. After all, the vice-chancellor has done his very best to publish the former Minister's mug prominently on practically anything from billboards to press adverstisements.
To quote Sdr Lim:
This provides [the new Minister of Higher Education] Mustapha the opportunity to demonstrate that he is serious about his ambitious target to ensure that at least two Malaysian universities are in the world’s top 50 by 2010, impressing both the local and international academic community with the appointment of a Vice Chancellor who is internationally- recognized for his or her scholarship, or as Dr. Azmi Sharom, Associate professor of Law Faculty, University of Malaya, said in his Open Letter to the Higher Education Minister, the Vice Chancellor must have “the qualities of an outstanding intellectual, manager and diplomat, who can ensure that academic principles are paramount, not political expediency”.In anticipation of Kapten Datuk Professor Dr Hashim Yaacob departure from his current position, let us now count the ways why we "love" him so in events over the past 12 months:
- The honourable vice-chancellor argued that Dr Terence Gomez was irresponsible and unpatriotic for "any individual should consider the interests of their 'students, country and the nation' before deciding to resign". Thankfully, he was given an immediate virtual slap in the face when the Prime Minister approved Dr Terence Gomez's application for 2 years unpaid leave to take up his post at the United Nations. The honourable vice-chancellor also rejected the leave application by the wife of Dr Terence Gomez which he subsequently claimed to be a "procedural error" for she applied to the vice-chancellor via email.
- The honourable vice-chancellor was a busy busy man, for even the UM academic staff union (PKAUM) was having difficulties in setting up appointments with him. The latter's grouses on promotion irregularities, grades tampering and possible misappropriation of funds fell on deaf ears. Instead, Professor Rosli Mahat, spokesperson for PKAUM got a show-cause letter for his efforts.
- The honourable vice-chancellor, who was also affectionately known globally as the "billboard vice-chancellor" started the ball rolling by putting up billboards proclaiming UM's "world class" status when ranked 89th globally by the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) in 2004.
- The honourable vice-chancellor, who had a 'zero' in the THES report card for research publications ingeniusly decided that the best way to remedy the issue was to take part in dog and pony trade shows and collect "gold medals" for his effort. For those who are unaware, almost all dogs and ponies return home with a medal in such trade shows, afterall, the participants paid for it.
- The honourable vice-chancellor, like the emperor without clothes, was so impressed with the "accolade" given by THES, that he proudly did the catwalk by putting up full-page colour advertisements teasing readers in anticipation of the new rankings in 2005. This was despite the fact that any half-decent statistician can work out that there were blinding errors in the THES 2004 tables. I suppose the emperor was so impressed with his new clothes that nobody, even those closest to him in the university dared say anything else.
- The honourable vice-chancellor, upon finding out that he was actually without clothes, did the honourable thing by denying that he was ever naked.
- The honourable vice-chancellor, upon finding out the real reasons for the "world-class" performance in 2004 declared, in partnership with the former Minister of Higher Education, that UM will allocated 5% of places in the university to foreign students, in a poorly disguised attempt to improve its world rankings.
- The honourable vice-chancellor, when faced with mounting public criticism, used university funds to once again, take up full-page advertisements to defend UM's "world class" status by using further misleading statistical arguments, for UM is after all, "worthy of our pride".
- The honourable vice-chancellor, allegedly had his wife transferred from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, where she was languishing as an associate professor for many years to Universiti Malaya 3 years ago. And within the short period of time, she has now received her promotion to be a full-professor at the university.
- The honourable vice-chancellor, is probably the only vice-chancellor in town who have received thinly-disguised public rebuke in the media, not once, but twice by one of his very own faculty members.