Saturday, August 18, 2007

Reiterating my support for Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara

Frankly, I'm been amazed and surprised by the number of negative comments generated by my previous post on the current situation facing Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara. This prompted me to do a more thorough investigation into the history and chronology of the firing of Dr. Azly and his wife from UUM. My investigations, coupled with my personal experience of pursuing a PhD here in the US, have led me to reiterate my support for Dr. Azly and his wife, in stronger terms than before. In addition, I also want to try to respond to some of the queries raised by certain comments to my previous post on this matter. Be warned, this is going to be a long post.

According to an exclusive by Malaysiakini dated Aug 22, 2005, it was in March of 2004 when UUM initiated 'proceedings' against Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara.

In a letter dated March 17, 2004 from the disciplinary committee stating that the pair had broken the code of conduct, they were also accused of failure to report for work on completion of their doctoral studies in the United States.

Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara started their doctorate program in 1997 (I'm guessing the fall of 1997 when most US universities start their academic term).

The same Malaysiakini report stated that:

They had gone to the US in 1997 and had then written to UUM on Sept 5, 2004 to ask for no-pay leave extension up to September next year (which means Sept 2006, I think), citing a need to stabilise their personal financial situation as the reason for wanting to prolong their stay.


So, the period of time from Sept 1997 to Sept 2004 is roughly 7 years, and including the 2 years that Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara was asking for, means that it would be roughly 9 years before they would return to serve UUM. During this time, according to a lawsuit recently filed by UUM Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara were paid their salaries as well as monthly expenses totaling RM1.25 million.

Some of our readers have commented on why it cost UUM RM1.25 million to fund Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara. For those who are unfamiliar with the US education system, it costs roughly 50,000 US dollars a year to fund a PhD student. My costs are being borne by the department of political science at Duke University. I've said in a previous post that it would eventually cost roughly RM900,000 to fund me for the 5 years of my PhD program (God willing I'm be able to finish in another 2 years). If it was the three years of sponsorship that UUM gave to Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara, it would cost roughly RM600,000 each (depending on the exchange rate and cost of living, which is higher in NY than in North Carolina) which would work out to the RM1.2 million or so cited by UUM.

I'm not sure if the school fees of Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara were waived by Columbia (which is roughly 30,000 US per year) but regardless, the RM600,000 or so spent by UUM on Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara respectively is not extravagant and in fact, well within bounds of two graduate students living in NY for three years. In fact, RM600,000 is roughly what JPA will spend to support one student for 4 years here in the US or the roughly RM500,000 JPA will spend to support a student for 3 years in the UK. I don't need to remind many of our readers that many of these JPA scholars fail to return to Malaysia to 'serve' out their bond or that even if they return to Malaysia, many of them end up working in the private sector. This is not to say that I support anyone including Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara to break their bonds which have been paid by taxpayers money (although the circumstances facing Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara were different, more on this later) but that our readers who are critical of the amount spent on Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara should be equally critical of JPA sending undergraduates to study in the US or the UK!

OK, back to the question of salaries and expenses. What is unclear to me was whether UUM continued to pay cost of living expenses and the salaries of Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara during the period in which they requested for the 4 extensions asked for.

Again, according to Malaysiakini,

It said the couple had also asked for extensions on four occasions to complete their studies, and this was granted with their monthly salaries paid and their expenses financed by the university despite being absent from duty.

This seems to imply that they were paid their living expenses and their salaries while they were on each of their 4 extensions. But was this sufficient for living and supporting a family in NY?

For those of you who have not had the experience of relocating to another country with your entire family without the support of a corporation (like the many MNCs which help transfer their staff from one country to another), it is a very traumatizing process. Fitting into a new culture, finding schools for your kids, transitioning to a new and demanding academic environment.

My wife and I found it hard enough to transition to life in Durham, North Carolina, and we were relatively 'lucky' in the sense that we don't have any kids, we were able to purchase a car relatively quickly, I was being funded by two scholarships (Duke and Fulbright), she managed to find a job relatively quickly (she's an architect by training) and the cost of living in Durham is much lower than that of major cities in the US, not least NY.

Most sponsored PhD students from Malaysia choose to go to 'easier' places such as the UK and Australia where (i) there is already a large support group of Malaysians there who can help a family settle in relatively quickly (ii) which is closer to home (Sydney is 8 hours from KL, London is 13, compared to the 20 plus hours of traveling time to NY and add another 10 or so hours if you have to transit another time within the US) (iii) there are few pre-PhD dissertation requirements.

Point (iii) deserves further elaboration. Unlike most PhD programs in the UK and in Australia, most, if not all, PhD programs in the US require a student to take between 2 to 3 years of coursework before they are even allowed to start working on their PhD dissertation. That is why it takes much longer for a US Phd student, especially those in the humanities and the social sciences, to finish their Phd. The average time for my course is 6 years. For those in the religion department, which have much tougher language requirements, it usually takes an average of 7 plus years to finish a PhD.

While Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara might have taken a bit longer (I think it took them a total of 9 years to finish their doctorate dissertations), this has to be seen in the context of their personal hardships which included the Asian financial crisis in 1997 / 1998 which probably cut their living expenses (including their ringgit denominated savings and salaries, which probably was used as part of their relocation costs) significantly and the 9/11 attacks on the US and NY specifically, which might have pushed their dissertation work back as much as a year. Both of them, for legitimate reasons, have wanted to keep the personal side of their circumstances private since they don't think that that was what led to their subsequent firing but in the end they decided to reveal some of these circumstances in a public letter which was published in Malaysiakini on Aug 9, 2007.

Would it have been easier if they had decided to do their doctorates locally in Malaysia or in the UK or Australia? Of course it would have. But getting into Columbia is no easy feat and it presented them with a once in a lifetime opportunity to study and work in one of the best universities in the US, if not the world.

For those of our readers who wondered why these scholars had to travel all the way to the US to write about Cyberjaya or the MSRMs, I would say this in reply. Being in an academic environment such as one in Columbia allows you to learn different theoretical approaches to one's subject of interest which one can then apply in the study of that subject. In addition, one can also learn about comparative examples (from other countries) in one's subject of interest. I don't exactly know what Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara wrote their respective dissertations on or if they brought in many comparative examples from other countries but I can illustrate this point using my own personal situation.

In the course of my studies here in the US, I've learned a semi-sophisticated statistical technique which can help one estimate racial voting patterns in ethnically divided societies. Using this method, I've been able to estimate ethnic voting patterns in Peninsular Malaysia from the 1959 to the 2004 elections. Using data which my research collaborate, Dr. Bridget Welsh, from SAIS in Johns Hopkins, at the polling station level for the 1999 and 2004 elections, we have managed to estimate racial voting patterns at the polling station level. Would I have been able to learn and apply this if I did my PhD in Malaysia? Probably not! So while I might be writing about elections in Malaysia, I'm using relatively sophisticated tools and theories which I've learn throughout the course of my studies here in the US. I'm willing to bet that Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara have benefited similarly from their US experience.

For those readers who are wondering why Dr. Azly had to take so long to finish his dissertation and why he couldn't just 'transfer' credits from his previous Masters degrees, this is what I have to say in response. Most US PhD programs actively discourage the 'transfer' of credits, if you will. There are a few reasons why this is so. Most schools want you to fulfill a number of credits in terms of courses because they want you to be familiar with the theoretical approach which a particular department or faculty member takes in regards to the subject of interest. In addition, this is a good way for a doctorate student to get to know faculty better so that one can better pick and choose faculty to be on one's committee. So even if you could transfer credits, you might not want to because you want to take certain courses under certain professors.

To illustrate how difficult it is for one to 'transfer' credits from one program to another here in the US, let me give you a few more personal examples. I have an MPhil in economics from the University of Cambridge. I toyed with the idea of applying to do a PhD in Economics in the US after my Masters in Cambridge and I found out that I couldn't 'exempt' myself from the coursework components for all of the top schools in the US. A friend of mine who recently transfered from Duke to Berkeley also faced a similar quandary if you will. She did two years of coursework here at Duke, including a Masters dissertation, but she has to repeat another two years of coursework at Berkeley even though she will be in the same field i.e. political science. Hence, the notion that Dr. Azly could have 'transfered' credits from his previous Masters programs is not a very realistic one.

I also have to mention that one needs to take a 'qualifying' or 'comprehensive' exam at the end of the coursework period and one needs to pass this exam before even starting one's own dissertation.

They could have given up even before they started on their quest for their respective doctorates because of the Asian financial crisis. They could have given up halfway through their program especially after the 9-11 attacks on New York. Believe me when I say that if you take a straw poll among many sponsored academics in the public universities, you'd find a significant number who only returned with a Masters degree after 4 or 5 years abroad or that they had to come back and finish their PhDs locally. Kudos should be given to Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara for 'braving' it out in NY and finally finishing their respective doctorates despite their difficult circumstances. Instead, many of our readers have chosen to disparage them, perhaps out of a lack of knowledge of their personal circumstances as well as the a lack of knowledge in regards to the US doctorate process. (I hope that none of the critical comments were 'planted' by members of certain political parties as a way to 'sabotage' this blog)

Back to the chronology of events. After asking for a no-pay leave extension for 2 years starting from September 2004, the disciplinary committee made a decision on December 7, 2004 that the two were 'found guilty' and that they would be fired with effect from Dec 9, 2004. The grounds of the firing were twofold - firstly, because they had not reported back to work at UUM after the completion of their doctorates (it is unclear to me if both of them had finished their doctorates in 2004) and also because of their refusal to sign the 'Akujanji' pledge.

They were sent a letter , dated Dec 23, by the disciplinary committee which 'also gave them 30 days of receipt in which to lodge an appeal, which they did on Jan 1, 2005'.

Now, I've been told by some of my lecturer friends in the public universities, that it is very difficult to fire a civil servant, especially lecturers in public universities. It takes a series of steps culminating with some sort of signed document on the part of the minister in charge (in this case, it would be the Minister of Higher Education, previously it would be the Minister of Education). This kind of move is highly unprecedented, especially given that Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara were sponsored students and a significant amount of resources had already been spent on their obtaining their respective doctorates. In fact, Dr. Azly speculated that they were probably the first two academics to be fired because of their refusal to sign the Akujanji. This leads me to believe that their firings were more about their refusal to sign the Akujanji rather than their requests for a further no-pay leave extension until 2006. To have the approval of the Minister for the firing of two highly qualified academic staff is no small matter.

It also had to go through the then VC of UUM, Dr Ahmad Fawzi Basri (now deceased), which from his writings, I gather that Dr. Azly was not on good terms with. In a letter dated June 13, 2007, he listed some of these issues including his reputation as a dictatorial VC and as someone who regularly suppressed freedom of speech among students and who seemed to specifically target Dr. Azly. Of course, Dr. Basri cannot defend himself now that he has passed away but clearly Dr. Azly saw the potential that Akujanji could be used against him by the then VC if he signed it and later returned to UUM. (For those interested, you can read a report on Malaysia Today on allegations of corruption brought up against the same VC)

The fact that their respective terminations had to go through a vindictive VC is only further proof to me that they were targeted more for their views and their seeming 'disobedience' against the administration of UUM than for their request for a no pay leave of 2 years.

One should look at the case of Terence Gomez, who at one point in time, was 'forced' to resign by the UM, under an unpopular VC, when he was appointed to a position as a research coordinator at UNRISD in Geneva, Switzerland. He was later reinstated at the intervention of Pak Lah. Or one can look at the case of Prof Ramasamy of UKM whose contract was not renewed probably because of his outspoken views against the Malaysian government.

At this point in time, I should remind our readers that Akujanji was only introduced after Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara had left for the US. It was not part of their 'contract' agreement with UUM when they left for the US as sponsored students.

Why not just sign the Akujanji and be done with it, some of our readers might ask? I firmly believe that Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara did not sign the Akujanji as a matter of principle and not because it was an easy 'cop-out'. Here are some of the reasons behind my thinking.

If Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara had wanted to stay on in the US and earn the 'big bucks', as some of our readers have speculated, then, the easy way would have been to sign the Akujanji in hope of getting the 2 year no pay extension. Even if they had wanted to stay on in the US indefinitely, it would have been easier to 'dupe' the UUM authorities by showing a certain amount of pliancy and sign the Akujanji and then after the 2 years of no-pay leave, ask for another extension or just not come back at all and ignore UUM totally!

By refusing to sign the Akujanji and by asking for continual clarification in regards to two clauses within the Akujanji which can potentially be abused, they took the risk of getting their request for a no-pay leave extension rejected.

I certainly don't think that Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara wanted to be fired from UUM so that they could be freed from their bonds. By being fired, they risked losing their pensions which they could have built up by continuing to work in UUM after finishing their doctorates. They also risked not being able to be employed by any other public university in Malaysia (all of whom have Akujanji pledges) because they would probably be 'blacklisted' by the MOHE as well as the public universities. They would also know that by being fired, they risked UUM going after them for the amount of living expenses and salaries paid to them while they were studying in the US (which is what is happening now) and that UUM could go after their guarantors if both of them remained in the US (which is what is happening now as well).

No, by not wanting to sign the Akujanji pledge, Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara were taking a high road and standing by their principles and they are paying dearly for it now, having been fired from UUM (and probably losing the pensions which they have built up there from working before going off to the US) and probably not able to seek employment elsewhere in the public university system and on top of that, being sued by UUM for RM1.25 million.

How would our readers feel if the government decided to target a few JPA scholars who have come back to Malaysia but not served out their bond and instead went to work for opposition parties and sued these individuals while letting those scholars who are working for MNCs get off 'scott-free'? Wouldn't you be criticizing this policy instead of asking only for these few JPA scholars who are targeted to quit opposition politics? (And Dr. Azly's 'crime' is much less 'serious'. He didn't join the opposition, he only voiced out his opposition against Akujanji)

As for the question of them taking the 2 year no pay leave to 'stabilize their financial situation', could we really blame them for doing so, especially if they had run up substantial debts for the medical bills of both Dr. Mutiara and at least one of their children? Taking this no pay leave and working for a US based institution for 2 years doesn't 'cost' UUM anything and in fact, they could potentially benefit from Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara's experience from teaching / working in these US based institutions. If they decided that at the end of 2 years that they didn't want to come back to UUM, they could still be asked to pay back UUM the amount they owe plus interest over the 2 years.

I firmly believe that if UUM had allowed Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara to have that 2 year no pay leave and allowed them NOT to sign the Akujanji as a way of compromise, I think both of them would be teaching in UUM right now. Earning the so-called 'big bucks' in the US would still take Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara a long time to pay off the 300,000 to 400,000 US dollars (depending on the exchange rate) owed to UUM. Perhaps it will take less than the 5 lifetimes that Dr. Azly mentioned but it certainly wouldn't be paid off in a few years, especially with bills to pay and with children to support in the US.

I firmly believe that Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara were and still are committed to improving the state of our public universities in their own respective areas. Just read this excerpt taken from a letter written to Malaysiakini by one of Dr. Azyl's former students, who did not agree with Dr. Azly's decision to remain in the US:

I studied under Azly way before he went to US for his doctorate. Even then, he was, to me, an outstanding educationist. His approach towards learning was different from other teachers, not that I am implying that the others are bad. Azly’s approach is different. He taught us, among others, how to think critically and how to approach a problem and find the best solution. His style of lecturing kept us awake, with him inserting current issues with facts learned, making us voice out our opinions and creating many discussions one after another.

I can remember many of us coming out glimmering from his class, eager to share the knowledge gained with others who were not so fortunate to be taught by him.

Being a true visionist, Azly had so many ideas on how the education system could be improved. Even with all the bureaucracy in MRSM, he and his wife did all they could to make education fun while at the same time making learning as effective as possible. I remember one time when we were a part of an English club which hosted a Drama Night with dancing, singing and a live band performance - something that was truly unheard of in the MRSM learning system.

After that, some of my friends who were originally quite shy, including myself, were more vocal in class and not afraid to give our ideas which completely reversed our personality. Sorry Academy Fantasia, we were performing way before you (only not on a national level).

As a true educationist and after gaining so much experience abroad, I am sure that both Azly and Marina are eager to part with their knowledge only be bogged down with bureaucracy that will only degrade what they have learned. As an ex-student of Azly, I can vouch that he does care for his students. Many, however, may feel threatened by him because of his approach and how much students responded to his way of learning.

Yes, I agree with Ariff that Azly and Marina should come back and just sign that ‘Aku Janji’ pledge and prove themselves to this country and how classroom teaching should be. But then again, as an educationist with a vision that is beyond the standards that are here, I wouldn’t blame him if he wanted to stay in the US where he would be truly appreciated and given the opportunity to expand his talent.

As Malaysia heads for 2020, ‘Aku Janji’ and the University and University Colleges Act should be scrapped, giving freedom to both educators and students to express themselves without fear and prejudice, creating the right kind of mentality to appreciate Vision 2020.


Lastly, for those who want to cast aspersion on Dr. Azly's Doctorate in Education (EdD) instead of a PhD in Education, I'll just point to this Columbia link which says that an EdD requires more credits compared to a PhD (90 versus 75) and that an EdD usually takes longer to complete compared to a PhD. As far the difference between the two, I'd just say, based on my limited knowledge that the EdD focuses more on the 'practice' while the PhD may focus more on the 'theoretical' aspects of education. (Perhaps similar to the different between a DBA - application of theory - and a PhD in Business Administration) Please remember that this is Columbia University, a distinguished and reputable university, unlike some of the more dubious ones which we've highlighted in this blog in the past.

I think I've gone on long enough.

I'd like to recap the main points made in this long post:

1) That the RM600,000 or so spent on Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara respectively is not an extravagant sum and is roughly what the JPA spends on a single Malaysian student studying in a private college here in the US, many of whom don't return to serve out their bonds

2) That the US Phd process usually takes longer than the UK or the Australian PhD process because of heavy coursework requirements as well as the need to take a 'comprehensive' or 'qualifying' exam.

3) That it would have been easier for Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara to sign the Akujanji pledge to obtain their no pay leave extension

4) That it doesn't make financial sense for Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara to renege on their bond to UUM so that they can work in the US

5) That they took a principled stand against Akujanji and paid the price for it

6) That they were targeted by the former VC and perhaps the former Minister of Higher Education because of their stand against Akujanji rather than because of their request for a 2 year no pay leave

7) That they went through many trying personal hardships including the 1997 / 1998 Asian financial crisis, the 9-11 attacks on New York and the many illnesses and deaths in the family and still managed to finish their respective doctorates

8) That they were and still are committed to returning to Malaysia to teach and contribute to building up the capacity of our local public universities

I hope that I've answered many of the criticisms targeted at Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara in this post.

And I sincerely hope and pray that with a different VC at UUM and with a different Minister of Higher Education, the situation facing Dr. Azly and Dr. Mutiara can be resolved in the near future (perhaps with the intervention of Pak Lah?) so that these two scholars can return to Malaysia and contribute their expertise, their passion for teaching and their knowledge to building up our public universities.

Thanks for your patience in reading through this long post and apologies for any grammatical and spelling errors (of which I'm sure there are many).

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now KM this is indeed a very long post.

But in any case, i think i can understand the hardships the couple have to endure during their term there, especially the strong anti-Muslim movement in the US. But i still feel that the couple somehow is making use of the conditions to not coming back and honor their contract.

Next, i don't think that we have to involve Pak Tak-apa Lah in this issue. If we think carefully, everything that happened in the country so far has to be intervened by him. So what use are those cabinet ministers for if they can't carry out their duty well, and have to push to the PM? Pak Tak-apa Lah should instead downsize his cabinet to save resources. These amount can actually contribute to the poor and lift their socio-economic status, rather than letting those ministers "makan gaji buta." Don't you all realise that our ministers are getting more arrogant day after day?

In a nut shell, do not push everything to Pak Tak-apa Lah to decide. He already has three portfolio in the cabinet, i.e. PM, Finance and Internal Security. Let him fulfill his final days well.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you are going to get much sympathies from people who previously posted in your Aug 14 posting. You failed to understand why many people are upset with these two. There are many Malaysians, especially non-Bumis, whose families have to struggle financially to further their studies in the US. These Malaysians would love to have a portion of that RM1.25 millions. Many of these Malaysians return home to work, whether in the private or public sectors, all without the support of the Malaysian govt. To see these two going scot-free without having to return and fulfil their obligations claiming all types of sufferings is an insult to all hard-working Malaysian students who even endured worse situations. The problems with scholars are that you all are spoilt to the extent that you believe society owes you for the time and suffering you all have to go through and expecting the govt to reimburse you for the traumatic experience of relocating. I also take issue with your comment that readers of your blog made critical comments out of "a lack of knowledge in regards to the US doctorate process" or that "the critical comments were 'planted' by members of certain political parties as a way to 'sabotage' this blog". It just shows that you are out of touch with the plights of ordinary Malaysian students. I am one of those who commented in your previous posting and I am a non-Bumi prof in a US university who gets to where I am after years of hard work all without the support of the Malaysian govt. I was a janitor in my early days as a graduate student and took buses and subways unlike you who have the money to own a car. Let me know to whom should I charge for my traumatic years as a graduate student?

Anonymous said...

Irrespective of the long statement made by KM (Yawnnnnn!!!!.....) I still feel the main contention is the contract signed between Dr Azly and Mutiara and UUM.

He broke the contract! And he knows he broke the contract and so did UUM.

Thats all to it.

P/s: In UK the DSc is higher than PhD. Its awarded to outstanding scientists or scholars who have reached the high standard in a particular research as judged by the number of significant research papers in that research topic

The examiners are usually three eminent professors in the established field who attect to the candidate's significant reseach contribution.

It is not measured by numbers or credits taken
And it is not easy to get the DSc D Ed LL D watever

Anonymous said...

to anonymous 8/19/2007 11:39:00AM

You have just motivated me to work harder!! Thank you so much.

DKR said...

My sympathies lie with Dr. Azly and his difficult time abroad. I totally agree with his stand on the akujanji issue, and I am under no illusion about the costs involved in living and studying abroad. And I don't have a problem with him taking extra time to do his research either but the bottom line is that they were sponsored by UUM for they're time abroad and now they have the other end of the contract to hold up, they're service. And they're not doing it. I know lots of other JPA scholars abscond from their service to the government or work in the private sector, but they do so privately and quitely. By becoming a mainstream media darling and using political will to help him, Dr. Azly has become a pretty recognizable figure in the media. And when you're in the media you tend to come under scrutiny. Still, that doesn't mean that it gives all other scholars the right to abscond. I am very disappointed that Kian Ming can't see that this is a fairly clear cut case of a scholar trying to abscond from his contract by clouding the issue with political interest. And the worst bit is, the summary of the points made at the end of the post reiterate this perfectly.

Dangerous Variable said...

I think the best course of action for these 2 poor fellas is to take on the government, move your family to Singapore or some other countries and start applying for an academic positions there.

Malaysian universities are not going anywhere with this sort of persecution on academicians!

Anonymous said...

(I can see KM now thumping his head against the wall....:)) )

The score is now:

KM: 0 POINTS
ANTI KM: 6 POINTS

Anonymous said...

Banging against the wall still fine, but don't scratch your head too much. Hair drops easily and you don't want to ended up bald....

Anonymous said...

Anyone spending more than RM40,000 on a doctorate without working full time is wasting his time in Malaysia.

Secondly, anyone borrowing more than RM40,000 whether be it from private or public funding is wasting precious resources which can go towards helping the poor in the country.

Third, the amount spent on one PhD in the US can be spent to help impoverished high school leavers to go to university here in Malaysia.

Fourth, anyone thinking that graduating with a PhD from the US and UK has an easy ride is going to be sorely disappointed unless he/she sticks to academia, the commercial world doesn't give a hoot.

Fifth, some Nobel prize winners don't really need a PhD to prove a point. They just need the brains, accumen and insight into the world's problems.

To conclude one shouldn't give much respect to PhDs unless they can contribute back to the common good of society.

Anonymous said...

First, RM40,000 could be earned back a lot quicker in the US compared to working full time in Malaysia.

Second, spending RM40,000 on good education could not be regarded as a waste of resource.

Third, RM40,000 could purchase a temporary fix for many primary schools like a new school books or a basketball court but it would not pay for new buildings. If it means promoting a high potential teacher, its worth the money.

Fourth, the commercial world does employ many Phd graduates. If they developed specialties in their respective field, they are in high demand. (e.g. US emissions controls)

Fifth, many Nobel Laureates has a Phd or MD. In 2006, all but Orhan Pamuk has a doctorate degree (although he did however receive an honorary Phd). Phd is merely a more orderly way of developing brains, accumen and insight.

To conclude, one should not dis PhDs.

That said, I've a few points I want to shout out.
1. 9 years for a Phd is a very, very high number! Who are we kidding here?

2. I'm not one of the numbers in the straw poll. It is highly uncommon for graduate to take more than 2 years for a Masters Degree unless one adds on a co-op or internship. I know of none that took 3 years or more and I did mine under 2 years in the US. It appears Dr Azly himself did his Masters in 2 years.

3. I realize support for Kian Ming is a little short. Many readers (this site attracts many non-bumis) see Dr Azly and Dr Mutiara having the wonderful opportunity to study at Columbia University paid for in whole by the government, not accounting for potential sponsorships for his other 4 degrees. It is perceived such an opportunity is given unfairly compared to the stories such as one by Anon 8/19-11:39am. The automatic reaction by readers: "come back and serve!".

I humbly ask they choose their fights carefully and please come back and serve. The teaching conditions at our universities are not ideal due to Akujanji but we always need more high caliber teachers. Being out of the country does not help.

Anonymous said...

I think KM is again attempting to defend the indefensible through a series of assumptions and conjectures. I do not know about writing thesis, but points are not given for sheer length in the blogs if the position sought to be defended is so totally out of whack with common sense of decency as expressed by almost all respondents here and to KM's ealier post.

I did wonder if KM is in this instance really intending to come to their defense more strongly as he declares, or is he now attempting to defend, not so much the scholars (whose action and utter bad faith are really indefensible anyway), but KM's own raison d'etre for the earlier post.

I do suspect this is turning into a classic case of attempting to cover one earlier mistake with another bigger one.

On those 2 scholars, I have one comment to make. In my more than 20 years as a commercial law practitioner, I can say from my experience and quite categorically that people who walk away from contractual obligations are people who will, later on in their lives, again and again consistently demonstrate their lack of integrity and a willingness to do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

I think its not right for KM to assume that the comments (esp negative ones) came from people who have had no experience being oversea pursuing their studies.

There are a lot of Malaysian's who have been sent out overseas to study with the help of some form of Malaysian govt scholarship.

At the same time, there's probably many more who were unable to secure financial help to study overseas and who had to pursue hardship securing funding.

Azly and wife did not have this problem - at least for 7 years!

For them to whine that live is hard is indeed an insult to a lot of people who had worked hard.

The bottom line is this:

Azly and wife signed a contract that came with conditions, probably with a max time limit to complete their studies and serve UUM.

They signed it. No one put a gun on their heads and made them to.

Now, they didnt keep their end of the deal and UUM wants the money back.

So KM, its not the Aku janji. There's no conspiracy going on. Its plain and simple that Azly and wife abused their privileges and failed to deliver.

The 1.25 million is likely to be the total amount of fees and living expenses, and the salary at UUM, which was paid throughout the entire time they were in NY.

Heck, they have no shame at all.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Kian Ming, but your sympathy is misplaced.

I think if you do a bit more digging you will find that there is no evidence that Azly Rahman and Mutiara are distinguished scholars and little that they are inspiring teachers. It seems quite likely that they have exploited the Malaysian public to finance their careers in the US and have raised the Akujanji as a device to evade contractual and moral obligations.

Let me go through some points. First, as you have pointed out, Azly and Mutiara registered for a program that required 90 credit hours of course work. While Ph. D. programs are reluctant to accept transfer credits, this does not seem to be the case with the Columbia Ed. D. program, which specifically states that 45 credit hours are transferable from accredited graduate schools.

It is true that the Ed D requires ninety hours of course work compared with 75 for the Ph D but this is balanced by the Ed D program allowing 15 more hours of credit transfer.

With the full 45 hours of credit transfer Azly and Mutiara should have been able to complete the course work in three semesters. Even if they had no transfers at all six semesters or three years should have been enough.

The departmental examination consists of an 8-12 page essay written over three hours. I doubt that that would take very much preparation.

Azly took 7 years until 2004 and Mutiara six years until 2003 to obtain their respective degrees. Once again the dissertations were not Ph D dissertations. Azly’s was a bit more than 200 pages long and Mutiara’s even shorter. They both analysed documents and did not do field work, observation, statistical analysis or archival research. I urge you to look at the first few pages of these works which are accessible from UMI. Frankly, they do not seem to be very much more substantial than a typical master’s thesis although written in fashionable post-modernist jargon. Possibly, they learnt a new theoretical approach while at Columbia but three years of course work should have been more than enough to do this.

And how on earth could 9/11 have pushed back their dissertation work by as much as a year? They were not working on archives in the World Trade Center or doing field work at the Pentagon.

Did they really have anything to fear from the UUM administration if they signed the akujanji and returned to Malaysia? After all, they had had three years or more of financial support and four extensions.

Their objections to the akujanji seem rather hypocritical. They had been employed by UUM and had two stints abroad. They must have signed many similar forms and undertakings. Why suddenly strain at this particular gnat after swallowing all those camels? Corporate employers around the world routinely impose much more onerous restrictions than these.

If Azly and Mutiara were opposed to the akujanji on principle they could simply have offered to return the money that UUM had spent on them. Do a few sums. 600,000 ringgit each repaid over 20 years is 30, 000 a year or about 600 ringgit a week. If they had returned to Malaysia and worked in the private sector they could have done 12 hours tuition a week at night each for 20 years to pay off the UUM money. Onerous? Maybe. But this is what the sort of thing that working and middle class Malaysians do without complaint to put their children though secondary school and college.

A little bit of net searching reveals that Azly is now an adjunct professor at a respected university in New Jersey and has taught at least three different courses there. An evaluation on the ratemyprofessors site contains the interesting remark by one student that he or she had Azly in high school. So he has been a high school teacher also.

Incidentally, Azly gets a very poor overall rating as a teacher on this site. One student remarks “good luck finding him”. Yes, I know that four respondents is not a basis for a valid assessment. But it is four times more than the number of students you quote as praising him.

As for being a distinguished scholar, although Dr Azly claims to have “published more than 150 scholarly articles and opinions on education, politics, history, and cultural studies in various online forums”, the only item that shows up on Google Scholar is a four page book review.

I wonder if Azly and Mutiara are really committed to returning to Malaysia. Azly has apparently suggested that he could fulfill his obligation by supervising doctoral students. This is what ordinary Malaysian academics get paid a few hundred ringgit for doing.

The suggestion that it makes no financial sense to renege on the UUM bond to work in the US is plausible only if Azly and Mutiara were earning less as high school teachers and/or adjunct professors in suburban New Jersey and/or New York than they would as professors in Malaysia and if it was certain that UUM would be able to enforce payment of the bond. One might also note that their older children must by now be approaching college age and presumably would qualify for cheap or low tuition at New Jersey state schools.

Sorry that this comment has taken so long but there are many more people deserving of your sympathy. Why not let the subject drop?

One final point. At Fairleigh Dickinson University, Azly is teaching a course on imperialism, colonialism and dependency. Since he has, in effect, got the Malaysian public -- and ultimately that means rubber tappers, factory workers and fishermen who get sacked when they don’t show up for work -- to pay 1.25 million ringgit to train one or two high school and college teachers for the United States, he does indeed seem well qualified to talk about imperialism.

Anonymous said...

Azly and wife are not the first govt scholars to not serve their contacts.

There are many govt scholars who had left their faculty positions in public unis once they have completed their studies. Some have left after serving less than what's required in their contracts.

However, usually, these people are the exceptional ones who have completed their studies on time and who think they can do better elsewhere. The lagging ones like Azly and wife, usually just return home and try to make up their failures with some far out stories, usually lame ones.

Anyway, many of those talented ones who decide to leave will somehow find a way to deal with the contract.

Some have wealthy family or spouses to pay them off. Other, rely on their talents to have their new employers to buy them out of the contract.

Nevertheless, the right thing to do is what these people do - find a a way to negotiate to pay the money back (by installments or in a lump sum) or find other methods through dialog, but in private.

Instead, Azly and wife seem to try to muddy the waters by diverting the attention of readers by blaming UUM and aku janji.

Azly and wife seem to have the traits of local "lecturers" who tend to have problems with their studies overseas:

1)They served at UUM for years and years before finally going for their PhDs. Some keep trying to get their PhDs and in the process fail to do so and end up with Masters degrees. Azly has 4 Masters degrees by the time he went for his EdD, and was probably over 40 if not late 30s.

2) They bring their whole families overseas (all expenses paid for by the govt)during their studies and enjoy their lives. Azly had 5 children by 2004 and all were with them throughout their studies (maybe some were born there).

3) When they fail to complete their studies, or face delays, they come up with the lamest excuses, such as what's listed by Azly.

4) Once they get their doctorates, they insist EVERYONE refer to them as DR, and use it EVERYWHERE.

Say Lee said...

Be warned that this is a long comment but I think it will add to the discussion. Just hear me out.

If I may, I would like to quote a personal case example distilled from my Ph.D. transcript so that readers who do not have a chance to study for an advanced degree in US would get a fair idea of the rigorous (or otherwise) requirements entailed vis-à-vis the academic loads shouldered by Dr. Azly and his wife, albeit the latter from another US academic institution better know for its overall academic reputation. Suffice to mention here that for graduate schools, the quality of the academic degree program has less to do with the overall reputation of the institution than the professors affiliated with the particular academic program:

Ph.D. Coastal Engineering, U. Florida, Gainesville, FL
Starting Semester: Fall 1991
Passed Qualifying Exam: Spring 1993
Final Semester: Spring 1995
Total Credit Hours at Graduation: 141
Coursework credit hours: 71 (out of which 7 are individual studies and the balance, lecture/lab classes)
Graduate seminars credit hours: 8
Advanced Research credit hours (taken after passing qualifying exams): 32
Transferred Credit Hours for Masters from another U: 30

What I’m trying to show by going public with the record, at the risk of being sounded off, is that the requirement for 90 credits of coursework in an US doctoral degree program is more often the rule rather than the exception. So anyone who enrolls into one knows what he/she is getting into in the long haul.

If you were to talk to my academic advisors and fellow grad students, they will tell you that my academic load and duration of study are neither onerous nor fast compared with my cohorts. In other words, my academic performance fits the statistical average, which is not too surprising since we all survived the attrition exacted by the much dreaded Qualifying exams.

I also shared two other similarities with Dr. Azly. Like him, I was a serving government servant and sponsored by the Government of Malaysia for my doctoral study, my family included for moral support, the difference being I was a government engineer and hence my scholarship award came under JPA. Also, I was asked to sign the Akujanji, after I have already been confirmed in my post. But there’s where the similarity ends.

I signed the Akujanji (and I must admit that the threat of being victimized unfairly never entered my mind then, not with all the restrictive provisions already in place via the General Orders, aka GOs), and I returned to serve out my bond of 8 years, and then some.

But before anyone says “Ah Ha!”, there is yet one more difference, a huge one. My sojourn of more than 4 years was much less eventful, for want of a better word. Mid-way through my wife did have a miscarriage, and we were told that she had some abnormal tissue growth in her womb. So she was on monthly checkup for more than a year before she was finally cleared of any abnormal cell development. That was definitely a traumatic, albeit a relatively short one, experience for me and my family. One just has to have trust, in this case the medical staff that treated my wife, and be strong for one’s family.

So I definitely can relate with Dr. Azly and his wife during the prolonged medical emergencies, with double compression from academic and family commitments. There is no standard protocol to handle such personal traumas, each can only handle the situation the best way one sees fit. The fact that my academic progress did not get derailed does not mean that another person in similar shoes would not.

And of course during the same period, the exchange rate between RM and US$ was on an even keel, about 2.5:1 I think. That was before the days of the financial debacle of 1997.

As for disaster, man-made or otherwise, the closest was Hurricane Andrew of 1992, but it occurred more than 300 miles away near Miami. And the most serious man-made threat was the spate of UF student killing occurring a few months just before we arrived at Gainesville. There is something in life that we can only truly experience when we live through it.

Extending from my own personal experience, I can empathize with the plight of Dr. Azly and his family. We are only human, and we can only be human if we are able to commiserate with others’ misfortunes.

But are these enough to legitimize breaking the contract bond that one has willingly entered into? No, it being a character thing. But are there extenuating circumstances to plead leniency? Definitely yes. Both parties just have to sit down and work that out.

I think the seeming chasm between how KM feels about the case and the majority of the negative comments arises because each is comparing different things. KM compares the courage of Dr. Azly in confronting the issue with JPA bond breakers whereas the negative commentators were comparing the “luxury” bestowed on government-sponsored scholars and the other students at large who depend on Moms’ and Pops’ toil to pay for their academic pursuits. There is perceived injustice in both and somehow both has to settle on the same level before both can find the common ground, or agree to disagree.

In my pervious posting, I have said that the akujanji has to be treated as a separate matter, simply because it affects the entire civil service. It’s naive to even think that UUM will acquiesce on this matter for it won’t, or more correctly, it can’t. UUM simply has no power to deal with such a matter that affects the entire civil service. On the last matter, I stand to be corrected if proven wrong.

Say Lee said...

A correction in my previous comment:

Starting semester: Spring (Jan - May, 1991), and NOT Fall (Aug - Dec, 1991) as stated.

Anonymous said...

Say Lee, what are you trying to say from your posting about your experience and asking for Azly's leniency? You sound like another govt scholar expecting to be reimbursed for the suffering as a graduate student. You don't seem to appreciate the moms' and pops' toils of thousands of Malaysian students without a sen of govt support. Those are not sufferings?
Now even Hurricane Andrew comes into the picture. Those govt scholars in LA, MS, and Texas..you better not post about Katrina.

Anonymous said...

I just don't understand this Dr Azly.
He is only an adjunct, which is a part-time instructor, and has to work in a high school, obviously to make ends meet. If he really has 150 peer-reviewed scholarly articles, he wouldn't be an adjunct but would be on a tenure-track senior position in a top tier US university. That number of publications would have been outstanding considering that it is much harder to publish in the fine arts and humanities areas. So, apparently that 150 include articles and comments made at Malaysiakini and other blogs. Having to hold multiple part-time jobs, life is not easy for him and his family. So, why didn't they come back earlier and be treated like a hot-shot prof at UUM? I guess he burnt his bridge years ago thinking that he could get a better deal staying in the US. One of the key factors in getting hired as a prof in the US is that the PhD research must be relevant to the research interests of the dept doing the hiring. Why would a US university be interested on his EdD thesis on Putrajaya? I think this is a good lesson for those Malaysian students who think it is easy to make it in the US.

Chen said...

Wah this guy so terror. He got all his fees and living expenses paid for by the gvt and yet failed to complete his studies.

After that, still want to bit the hands that feed him? From other sites it says the Dr is an adjunct faculty at some small college called Farleigh college in New Jersey.

If he claims to be so good (yes I noticed he put so mch effort to stress how good he is), why cannot full time job in a proper university in US? Dont have to be Columbia lah, can be New York uni or any other decent uni. Only adjuct position. Whats wrong? Also, why take 9 years to complete EdD?

One more thing described on other blog is that Dr started his EdD in his 40s (or late 30s). Why so late? Late developer kah?

Busy making babies and enjoying life kah? That explains his struggle with his studies. Must have been makan angin using our money loh.

Anonymous said...

There seems some people in MT who think that Azly Rahman is right and that UUM is wrong:

http://malaysia-today.net/blog2006/azly.php?itemid=7356

Anonymous said...

Right said. Azly's thesis was on Cyberjaya, which can be partly accessed here:

http://proquest.umi.com/pqdlink?did=765209371&Fmt=14&VType=PQD&VInst=PROD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1187556253&clientId=79356

Since he studied Columbia (although he was actually in an affiliated teacher's college), why couldnt he get appointed as a fellow within that insitution, at least in the interim? If he was any good, he could have easily gotten a postdoctoral position.

Its obvious he included his Malaysiakini articles and other blog writings to come up with his "150" publications list. As mentioned by others it looks like this guy is cooking the books in order to look good.

If in reality he has 150 publications in peer-reviewed journals, he'd be tenured by now. But the truth is he just graduated in 2004, probably at age 45 (or so?). And thus, he's merely an adjunct.

But when you have at least 5 kids like Azly, you need all the jobs you can in order to make ends meet.
These kinds of traits are common among local uni staff who are sent overseas, especially the weak students.

Anonymous said...

Kian Ming and Say Lee, thank you both for taking the trouble to lay out your thoughts, as carefully as you both have here. Many weblogs and comment forums tend to attract a range of opinions that detract from following through with decided points and a line of thinking. I admire the method of thinking, although I disagree philosophically with KM.

Say Lee, you quite accurately point out that the moral senses expressed here are 'comparing different things.' The seeming integrity of Azly in Akujanji and bond-breaker matters is clouded by the process by which he gained his degrees - through policies of opportunity that continue to cause resentment in Malaysia. The larger context of this weblog's audience, many of whom do feel bitter for having to navigate around disadvantageous policies, are unlikely to feel sympathetic when Azly chooses to 'commiserate with others’ misfortunes.' This is a secular idea of humanism. Malaysia is not a country that ennobles citizens with a sense of the secular, although (like citizens of many Commonwealth countries) we do like to talk about these ideas in the abstract. The practice of these ideas in dialogue is another matter - which is why I appreciate how both of you, Kian Ming and Say Lee, have posted in a manner that is evidently from academic training, to present points in a classically reasoned way.

The outcry against Azly is prompted by ongoing resentment against Malaysia's federal policies. Repeat: federal. That federal law allows civil services to grant opportunities to some and not others, is the root cause of this resentment. Azly is simply another symptom.

Anonymous said...

What is the point of having all these PhDs when they can't even come down from their high perch and do the menial task that is done by mere mortals?

Secondly, what good is a PhD when many of them I can think of later go into education and cheat students of their monies with exorbitant and extortionist fees?

Third, what good are PhDs when all they can think of is tell everyone else who don't have one how to run their lives?

Fourth, what good are PhDs from Ivy League universities who can only exploit situations without the common good of mankind?

Fifth, unless they can prove that they have worked for a long time in basic menial tasks and earned their respect in society, PhDs should not be accorded all that respect from everyone.

Finally, PhDs are preachers to some extent but take Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Li Kah Shing and Lim Goh Tong, they didn't need a PhD all they needed was practionner's skills and mindset!

Anonymous said...

The final analysis, PhDs spend so much time doing research that they are historical in their view of life. When do find something new, they can seldom find the funds to commercialise it. The funds are held by non-PhDs which is abit ironic. One more thing I despise the concept that just because one has an ivy league pedigree one can gain respect. How wrong can these individuals be when they are out in the bigger wide world of people who don't give a darn where you are from and what school you have gone to. It may apply in the US but really the US economy is in the dumps with subprime so really you are left in a connundrum.

Anonymous said...

Well, it wasnt a Bill Gates or a Donald Trump who worked years to develop vaccines, antibiotics, and surgical methods that has now extended our live span.

You need those scientists and researchers with PhD, esp in the west, who are toling day and night for the good of mankind.

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) alone has a budget of US 28 billion per year just for scientific research involving health care.

That's why you need PhDs and researchers. Gates, Buffet, and fellow money rollers fatten their bank accounts and broaden their personal estates. They dont need a PhD to bullshit. Science, doesnt run on bullshit. You need the proper training, which includes getting a PhD, MD, and other advanced degrees.

If the US economy is in the dumps, what about the already puny economies of the third world? It's the US economy that still rules the world, because it is the biggest. Just its domestic economy alone will enable it to sustain itself, unlike a third world country.

Anonymous said...

The case of Azly can be comparable to some VIP who has absconded tax payers money.

When caught with his pants down, excuses flow liberally, although most of them are an insult to anyones intelligence.

The bottom line is that in order to maintain his integrity,Azly must stop painting a picture that he is being discriminated or victimized against. The issue is the study contact.

Azly failed to complete his studies in time, and further failed to return to start work. Like anyone out there, if you dont come to work, you lose your job.

Especially in his case, RM 1.25 mill was already spent, which includes multiple extensions. He should have the decency to at least come home and negotiate with UUM, even if he'd rather stay in the US.

Instead he chose to publicly condemn UUM and burn his bridge wit them. At the moment, both his guarantors, who are most likely in the country, are being served court papers to pay up the money Azly owes.

Where's the justice in this?

Ahpiau academic said...

Dear KM,

As much as I admire your passionate musing on these two academics....I must agree with the majority of the comments here...

A contract is a contract...

Sorry mate...

Anonymous said...

I stand corrected. His thesis was about Cyberjaya not Putrajaya.
I just got thinking about counting articles at weblogs as publications. I never thought of that before. I wonder whether KM is doing the same. He must have written numerous articles here. Lim Kit Siang without a PhD must have written over 300 postings. We all read and made critical comments. So, that is peer review. Can or not? Can lah.

amir said...

nope,
For Dr Azly and others who broke their contract there shouldn't be nay excuse.

Like the rest of the ppl who studies during 1997-98 my livelihood is affected as well. However, its part and parcel of studying.

Just imagine how many can benefit from his RM1.25M. A new school can be build with that kind of money.

Hafiz MZ said...

People will only undertsand when they are in those two shoes.
Bear in mind, its not that those two dont want to contribute back, but they make it hard for them to...

Anonymous said...

Its about contract. Other issues are secondary!

Anonymous said...

Imagine you are a trader, and take goods with a promise to pay in the future. Then some calamity befall you, eg, the Kota Tinggi floods or the katrina typhoon. You lost your entire life's savings. And some loved ones were swept away by the floodwaters.

Would your creditors, whose goods you have taken on credit, so willingly forgive you, because you were able to list out all of the above "reasons"?

Of course not! Show me a person who says the creditors should forgive that poor debtor of the debt, and I will show you either an untruthful hypocrite or a person who has never lent any money that has become a bad debt.

So what happens in the above example? The debtor will have to ask for favours, ask for discount, ask for time. Maybe the creditor will be compassionate and give the requests due consideration. But no way if the debtor then starts to argue that all those things would not have happened but for the creditor not doing this or that; or that, merely because there was a flood, there is therefore some divine right bestowed on the debtor not to have to repay the debt.

People! Is that really so difficult to understand? Hafiz said "People will only understand when they are in those two shoes". Is there something else to understand, really. I would like to welcome Hafiz to the real world. Not the world of academia.

Hafiz and those who think alike, please begin to lend large sums of money to others, moneys that are hard-earned by you, then tell me you understand when your debtors ran away after throwing eggs at your face.

Yeah, lend me money, and I will pay you if you come to Timbuktoo on February the 29th at a minute just after midnight. What? You dont want to go there at that time? Come on, I want to pay you, so please dont make it hard for me to pay you! Jeez. What a novel argument! Please dont take any sholarship yourself, Hafiz.

Hafiz MZ said...

Thx for the analogy
Dont get me wrong, I agree, every debt, need to be paid back, no matter whats the circumstance.
Its just that some of the comments above dont even hv a tiny bit of sympathy towards those two

Anonymous said...

Hafiz,

Sympathy for what?

1) For getting a scholarship for thier studies?

2) For getting 4 extensions to their original scholarship, which were kindly extended by UUM

3) For not completing his thesis on time?

4) For refusing to come back after he benefited from tax payers money?

5) Started web blogs that bad mouthed UUM, which gave him the money in the first place, instead of negotiating like a gentlement that he claims he is?

6) For putting his two guarantors on the frontline to bear his debt of RM 1.25 mill?

For a man who preaches moral rights and philosophy, he is doing the total opposite.

He gave his word by signing a contract, which was funded by our money. The least he could do it to negotiate with UUM to find a solution, and not go on a rampage claiming AkuJanji is the culprit.

He should stop using aku janji as a smoke-screen to cover up for his lack of integrity.

Sympathy? Like is hard. We all go through hardship. This guy is the epitome of a regular local faculty member who's sent overseas that ends up wasting tax payers money.

雨城浪客 said...

As a lot of points raised by Kian Ming are based on assumptions which may or may not be right.

I guess Kian Ming should forward these two articles and comments to Azly and wife for them to answer or clarify about sinze they know the truth themselves the best.

I guess the public is equally as interested in this "private matter '' as suggested by Azly as the public matter "the Akujanji"

Since they are public sponsored, the issue becomes no longer private. The issue of the public sponsored students failed to honor the contract or pay back is equally as important as the Akujanji issue if not more.

Azly and co should elaborate furter rather than just harp on the Akujanji issue.

Anonymous said...

I do not read through KM's opinion.

But, a contract is a contract where the signer MUST obey all the rules stated inside the contract. If he think the contract is not right, why he still sign it?

Besides, once you borrow money from someone else, you should pay back in any mean according the rule set in the contract. I am quite pity about the guarantor. Many people wan to borrow money and go study oversea, after completed, then refuse to come back or serve bond.....well educated people..LOL.

Anonymous said...

As expected KM is very quiet on furthering this issue! Come on KM put more salt in your argument...
I have no pity whatsoever for Azly and Mrs.
They looked for trouble themselves.
I only pity their guarantors who have to cough out the money
The score as of today on this issue:

KM still zer0
Anti Km: 200

Anonymous said...

For a guy who preaches morality and ethics, Azly does not walk the talk.

Azly benefited from a UUM scholarship until he finally graduated from the US.

He requested, and was give, at least 4 extensions to his scholarship until he finally completed his studies after 7 years. He should be grateful he got these extensions, let alone the scholarship in the first place.

But no, he continues to request for leave of absence despite taking longer than he should have to complete his studies. UUM said no.

At that point, Azly, if he was ethical, should have reported for duty at UUM. If he had a problem with aku janji, that could have been discussed while he was in UUM, in service. If he was fired after that, hell the whole country would be with him.

But instead, Azly, thinking he was a hot-shot decided to be his own boss and did what he wished. He stayed on in the US, perhaps with the notion that some Ivy league uni will beg him to work with them.

But things went wrong when he realized than in the US, with a doctorate, you're still a nobody unless you're realy good. He couldn't get a decent full-time faculty position anywhere, except adjunct and part time teaching stints.

But by then, he'd shot thunderbolts at UUM and its VC, and bad mouthed them in the media. He burned his bridges with them. Little by little, realizing he needed to come home in order to have a better qualit of life than what he was having, he decides to advocate his reappointment at UUM. But it's too late. UUM is not having it anymore with someone with no integrity like Azly.

Azly preaches that universities must be separated from political influences. Hiring, firing, promotions must not be politically motivated. But then, here he is now, using all the political fire-power he can find to bully his way back into UUM. He is using the ministry of education to support his return to UUM, and hoping that some political magic wand can be used to get his job back.

Hypocrite? Not just a hypocrite.
Using the words of the great George Costanza, "it is Azly, the lord of the hypocrites".

In the mean time his guarantors wait in fear and hope to an end to Azly's bullshit and self-admiring behavior.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Azly,

If you are reading these comments, please join us and provide your views.

It may help answer some queries raised on this topic.

Kiam Ming, please urge Dr Azly to join us so that we have his input.

Anonymous said...

A senior colleague of mine (non-Malay) was sponsored by my University to do a PhD in US few years back. She finished in time and decided to stay there. She negotiated her contract, and all went well. And there must be many more cases as hers.
I also remembered many years ago a court case where JPA sued a student who failed to serve the government after being sponsored, in the end she lost and was asked to pay the government back, which she did in installments. This was way before Akujanji.

Anonymous said...

Knock! Knock! Knock!....

Kian Ming, are you there?

We are eagerly awaiting for your comments and rebuttals as you are the 'sworn in saviour' of Azly and Mutiara.

johnleemk said...

I think Say Lee is right when he says that the problem is different frames of reference. Kian Ming is comparing Azly Rahman to the typical person who breaks their bond with JPA; the commentors are comparing Azly Rahman to the typical person who never got aid from JPA.

I think that at the very least, Azly Rahman and his wife should repay their loans. They may have a good moral (but I doubt legal) ground for breaking their contracts, but that does not mean they have no moral obligation to repay the public money used to fund them. I am not entirely sure whether they were granted loans or a scholarship, but if they are not going to return to serve their bond, morally they ought to repay the money they received.

On another note, I'm just wondering - who broke the contract? Kian Ming says that UUM fired them, which would indicate that it is UUM who broke the contract, as, according to him, the akujanji was not part of the contract they signed (thus meaning their refusal to sign the akujanji did not repudiate the contract).

Anonymous said...

The contract would definitely have included a clause which requires the student to:

Complete his studies successfully and return to serve the uni for a certain period (6 years, I gather).

Azly did not return to serve. He stayed on in the US, despite his mutiple scholarship extensions and delays.

He broke the contract. UUM fired his asss.

Aku janji has nothing to do with Azly's firing. Azly failed to report for duty. HE was fired.

Anonymous said...

Haha, you guys all got pawned.

The blog authors didn't even respond and chose to continue with other posts.

ipta said...

Academicians who are unwilling to sign the Aku Janji letter can sign a separate declaration form provided by the Academic Staff Union. Basically the declaration form states that the undersigned is signing the Aku Janji not on voluntary basis and disagree to Aku Janji. In other words, the individual will sign two documents instead of one. First being the declaration form provided by the Academic Staff Union and the other is the Aku Janji form. THe declaration form is then submitted to the VC by the Academic Union. However, I am not sure if such declaration forms is available at UUM. Since most academicians disagree to Aku Janji, I believe the Academic Staff Union in IPTA would come up with something like the declaration form.

Hence, I am inclined to believe that Azly is using Aku Janji as an excuse to renege on his contract.

Aku Janji and returning to serve are two different issues. Azly should fulfil his scholarship contract by reporting to duty and then fight against Aku Janji later. Moreover the reasons given by Azly for not reporting back is more to do with how difficult his PhD was and not so much about Aku Janji. Besides, all PhD candidates have their own "horror" stories to tell...hence, are we all going to use that as a leverage to renege on a contract??

Anonymous said...

KM,
Why so quiet?

We are waiting for your response!

Anonymous said...

I think we are not going to hear from KM or Azly in this blog. KM is definitely on the same boat as Azly that's why he has the urge to support Azly.

KM is doing his PhD in his 40s, most likely to spend many more years trying to complete it, and more importantly, like to think of himself as a hot-shot when in reality is Mr Zero.

Azly is actively defending himself, albeit unsuccesfully, at http://malaysia-today.net/blog2006/azly.php?itemid=7356

Perhaps those with Qs can direct to
"Dr Azly Rahman" (boy I'm sick of this guy's "I love myself so much" attitude.

I think we should use this opportunity to ask him directly before he disappears.

Say Lee said...

Thanks to the anonymous post above for the redirection. Apparently Dr. Azly has decided to stick it out on a single front at Malaysia-today-net, rather than engaging "the enemies" on muitlple fronts. A smart strategy no doubt.

But I do think the 2nd para on the same post is uncalled for. One doesn't have to belittle another to make a point.

Say Lee said...

Apologies for the typo.

It's "multiple fronts".

Anonymous said...

And what's this with neverending argument about "top universities" and who's longer and bigger and harder?

And more on look at me, I'm really a hotshot since I'm doing a PhD.

What are you guys? Idiots? There are so many PhDs and MDs, and other doctorates around. What's the big deal? The degrees mean nothing unless you contribute to knowledge AFTER you get your degrees, not brag until kingdom come BEFORE you even graduate.

Its really amusing so see so many clown argue day after day with which uni is better, from Taipei uni to UK to US, to UKM while no one discussed if any one of the potential student is any good?

If you're an idiot, you're an idiot. No uni can help you.

The rest of you, just get accepted into a uni, and do a good job and graduate for f^%$s sake. If you're in the middle of you studies now, whichever uni ur in, just shut the f^%$& up and finish you studies.

It's just so amusing to see problem students like Azly Rahman and likes to be the most vocal. This is like those drivers of Kancils in Bodohland - they need the loudest exhaust because they have the gradest delusion they have a fast car. Same bull here.

And those of you who're studying because they want degrees to brag (like KM and buddies) and to make money, guess what, you're not going anywhere in the real world. You can only be a local champ in Bodohland, and a Mr Zero in the real world.

Idiots.

Anonymous said...

he hehe!

Well said to the above!

Let us follow the good example of the old retired academician...'Learn From History'who used to comment regularly in this blog

He is wise, he has been through it and he dont talk non sense. He got his PhD while you are all floating in your mother's womb

As usual empty cans or half empty can makes most noise!