Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Support for Dr. Azly Rahman and Dr. Mutiara Mohamed

The issues facing Dr. Azly Rahman and Dr. Mutiara Mohamed has been highlighted in this blog before by Tony and myself. With UUM firing the next salvo against Dr. Rahman and Dr. Mohamed, I can't help but even sympathize more with the plight of these two distinguished Malaysian scholars.

It was recently reported in Malaysiakini that UUM is seeking 1.25RM million in compensation from Dr. Rahman and Dr. Mohamed and at the same time, casting aspersions on the character of both these academics in regards to the reasons why they didn't want to come back to UUM. It was not really because of the reluctance on their parts of not wanting to sign the Akujanji pledge (which sounds like a bad word to me) but that they didn't want to return to Malaysia despite being given four extensions by the university.

In return, Dr. Rahman and Dr. Mutiara wrote a reply outlining the circumstances under which they had to do complete their PhD including:

* Having to endure extreme financial, and economic hardship as a direct aftermath of the Asian financial crisis of 1997 that happened at the beginning of our studies, in which we were suddenly living below the American poverty line with the loss of 75 percent of our finances and had to take up minimum-wage jobs while attending graduate school and supporting our family,

* Having a loved one with a terminal illness that consequently resulted in death,

* Dr Mutiara Mohamad experiencing years of debilitating medical condition in which it has recently culminated in a major surgery,

* Undergoing numerous hospital and specialist's visits when one of our children underwent diagnosis for the causes of his unilateral loss of hearing,

* Undergoing the long process of rigorous requirement of Columbia University doctoral candidacy (90 graduate credits and two comprehensive exams plus a dissertation),

* Having to go through the long and arduous process of preparing a Columbia University dissertation report,

* Needing several changes of dissertation advisors, and having to coordinate for the availability of the full dissertation committee for the final defence,

* Experiencing the emotional trauma from the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers which happened literally in our backyard,

* Enduring the discontinuation of scholarships and all forms of financial aid from UUM towards the end of our studies, and a host of other hardships we which finally overcame and persevered through even when all means of economic resources had dried out.

Being a PhD student myself, I can totally empathize with Dr. Rahman and Dr. Mohamed's situations while they tried to complete their PhD. New York is an expensive and often difficult place to live in, especially if you have kids and are living on graduate student wages. Their personal circumstances and other extraordinary events, such as the 9/11 attacks, could only have made a difficult process even more difficult.

Asking for extensions is quite normal for a US PhD student since most Malaysian universities give only 3 years for a PhD to be completed while a US PhD usually takes 5 or 6 years to complete. What more, given the personal circumstances of Dr. Rahman and Dr. Mohamed.

My brief reading of both their bios (here and here) indicate to me that these are two highly capable academics, the likes of which Malaysia should be proud to have. Both completed their PhDs in Columbia, one of the top universities in the US and one which few Malaysians are accepted to at both the undergraduate but especially the graduate level.

The fact that these two obviously capable and well published academics are not treated with respect by a local university doesn't give me confidence that our public universities with be able to attract enough of this type of talent to take our public universities to the next level.

On my part, I'll be hoping and praying that Dr. Rahman and Dr. Mohamed manage to resolve their issues with UUM and perhaps one day, even teach and contribute to the building up of our public universities, which from what I've read, both are keen to do.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I have to beg to disagree. I don't feel sympathy after all they were on government scholarships, expenses paid for them and their families. This has been going on abit too far on tax payers money which is getting ridiculous. Further, what about those without scholarships, get written off by the bank or declare bankruptcy. It is about time these academics learn the process of paying back and being accountable and stop blaming scapegoats. At the end of the day it is you and I who suffer as we pay taxes to subsidise people like this.

Anonymous said...

bE PRACTICAL.....tell uni to go to hell with akusumpah.....and bring these people back for the students....all these people are playng a fool with tax payers money.....otherwise Azly goes to a lawyer to declare contract null and void in view of conditions posted after contract signed and join one of the other universities......time o be sensible instead of all this sandiwara, vengeance, etc

a returned former scholar said...

I no doubt have great sympathy towards the health difficulty that Azly and especially his wife have endured.And also, I agree that AkuJanji should not exist in the first place.

But let us focus on the so-called "private" issue that Azly and UUM have revealed. The fact that Azly and wife are sponsored by the UUM , which is bankrolled from the tax payer's moeny, this is definitely of public's interest (not as claimed by Azly that it is no so).

I would like to raise attention on a few points.

Firstly, recalling from my previous experience, government sponsors always give out sufficient living allowances for a modest life abroad. Also, the living allowance is fixed at denoted local currency. This means if u are entitled for let say 300 US dollar a month, no matter how badly ringgit is depreciated, u are still getting 300 US dollar. So, I personally think that 1997 crisis shouldn't have affected Azly's economic status dearly unless his condition is otherwise. Azly should have felt lucky since at that time, many sponsored students have actually been terminated their studies overseas and called back to be arranged at local uni.

Secondly, I think academic pressure is a norm in every student's life. although Azly has been coupled with many other complications at the same time, Azly and family have been granted extension for 4 times (which is the maximum times of extension one can request under government sponsorship). Hence, it can be said UUM has actually given a lot of flexibilities to Azly and family.

Thirdly, I guess taking odd jobs during studies are a norm for students studying overseas especially in US. I have many frens over US that took up part time jobs during term time , be it ot get quick cash or working experience. Hence, I think doing part time job shouldn't be a hindrance to academic excellence to a scholar like Azly.

Personally and with all the information I have got from Azly and UUM revealation, I think there are substantial causes that Azly should either return to serve his contract (as he claims he is always willing to serve in the country) or pays up the money he owes. 1.25 million ringgit is a whopping amount that can benefit many in M'sia but if Azly is teaching at an American university earning US dollar annualy, he certainly doesn't need a life time to pay back the moeny. After all, after conversion, RM1.25 million only equals to no more than 400k US dollar.And the average annual salary of an American gradute is 60k US dollar a year. and perhaps Azly as a PHD student and professor will have earned much more.

In short, I think both the public and private issues relating Azly and UUM are equally of public's interest for the fact that Azly and wife are sponsored on tax payer's money. We shouldn't be diverted by the public issue on Akujanji, but ignored the "private" issue on sponsorship dispute.

Azly should either return to serve or pays up , apart from championing to remove AkuJanji.

Anonymous said...

I have not scrutinised the issue carefully (simply because I don't wish to bother about the personal affairs of others) but I think the posters before me are a little bit naive and unfair.

Firstly, neither UUM nor anyone else should involve personal matters to resolve business matters. You may fight during business meetings, but still laugh over a beer afterwards. This is world class mentality.

Secondly, Azly comes across as a decent scholar and deserves his scholarship. If we wish to argue about taxpayers' money, then let's sort out this huge log that is racism in selecting the right scholars and also the majority of the receivers who cannot even graduate with a 2nd upper. Azly's case seems to me as just a tiny speck which probably brightens up the view rather than blocks it.

~

Anonymous said...

He received the goverment scholarship and should serve the sponsor or pay back as according to the contract, period.

Everyone has personal problems, financial, family, study and etc. Why is his case so special and be treated differently ? Why do other people under the same scholarship manage to graduate and has no problem ? Business is business. Personal matter should set aside.

Say Lee said...

Strictly from the contract point of view, UUM is seen to have discharged their duties properly, having issued 4 extensions.

Anything more than that would be discretion, which the UUM officials may or may not have been granted the power to act accordingly.

And we all know how discretionary power has been abused, and its effect, benevolent or otherwise, is oftentimes applicant-, not necessarily case-specific.

It's fair to say that I have seen my fair share of JPA scholars returning without a Ph.D. degree.

As for the adequacy of the funds, my own experience indicates that it is insufficient for a decent living, especially with dependents. Oftentimes one would have to resort to home pays, meaning RM, to supplement. I think it's in that context that Dr. Azly's claim of fund shrinkage to the tune of 75% is believable.

As for the duration of study toward a Ph.D. degree, a lot depends on the type of courses. Those in engineering and the hard sciences tend to graduate earlier, say 4 to 5 years, though 3 years is doable. For those in the social/humanities/education, 5-7 years can be considered fast.

As for a change in the makeup of the supervisory committee, it can happen, and can be within or beyond the control of the student, but the consequence is invariably a longer duration to graduation.

As for exigencies like sickness and even, God forbid, death, in the family, we all know life's vagaries, and misfortunes can strike any time. In those cases, the aggrieved parties should receive special consideration, if nothing else then on compassionate grounds.

While my sympathy is definitely with Dr. Azly and his wife, judging from the resolve they have shown in finally completing their studies despite all odds, and their eagerness in coming to a satisfactory conclusion of their predicament vis-a-vis the ultimatum from UUM, I could also understand the position of UUM in not wishing to unwittingly set a precedent by letting go Dr. Azly and his wife "scot-free", for want of a better word.

My view is that since Dr. Azly and his wife are willing and ready to come to the table, with suggestions of how to end the impasse, the least UUM could do is to listen and explore the middle ground, with both parties leaving their egos at the door.

As for the pledge, I think it's best to deal with it separately as a collective fate for the academics and all the other government servants.

Anonymous said...

Anon above mentioned that the money from the govt was not enough. Why don't you tell us how much the govt paid you a month? Malaysian students in the US can then judge whether that is enough or not.

Anonymous said...

Are Dr Azly and Mutiara DAP or Keadilan Party members? Just asking.

Perhaps if they are not, things could be resolved easily...hehehe

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, when you agreed to the terms of a contract and signed the contract then you have to live by the terms of the contract whether you profit or not. In this case, if a student is supported, whether partially or fully, and signed a contract to return, then the student has to return upon completion of the studies. That is just commonsense.
Why did you sign a contract if you think you can get a better deal on your own? The point to note is that a student may not be good enough to be admitted to a top university with full financial support such as graduate assistantship. But if you are ready to pay your own way and you have the basic qualifications, then any top university would take you in. Malaysian govt has paid for many students to be admitted to top universities on that basis. These are the students who would otherwise not get admitted because they are not good enough for one of the graduate assistantships. In a way, the govt's financial support makes a difference to get a student in. A student cannot turn around and claims that he did it on his own and that the Malaysian govt does not deserve the credit. If a student can get assistantship from the university in the US on his own, then why accept the Malaysian govt's contract in the first place?
In the case of Dr Azly and his wife, I am not sure whether they have tenured positions in the US. Otherwise, their positions there are precarious. To offer to serve the university as a foreign-based collaborator is not the same thing as returning to teach. It is like getting steak from the govt and offering ikan bilis in return. Malaysian govt can get research collaborators like that for free without spending millions of ringgits.

Anonymous said...

I suspect I am missing something here. It seems that the grant of the scholarships is now blamed and criminalised for the hard times those 2 scholars have gone through.

It seems to my simple mind that the argument being put forward in this post is this - because UUM did not give the scholars all the money needed to overcome all those problems they experienced in the US (which, as the argument goes, arose only because UUM put them there), so they need not pay back nor serve nor in any other way comply with their part of the bargain. Eh???

I have absolutely no respect nor regard for UUM, but double standards proposed by Kian Ming cannot be supportable. Why are we saying that some people are entitled not to fulfill their scholarship obligations, while crying foul at the majority who just waste away taxpayers' hard-earned money?

Were UUM wrongful in discontinuing the scholarship, ie, without grounds, could not such brilliant scholars resort to legal means of redress or to cancel their obligations? All the other "justification" listed by Kian Ming makes me sick.

Take for example this excuse, "Having to go through the long and arduous process of preparing a Columbia University dissertation report". So, it is difficult, dont need to serve; if easy only must come back to serve. Eh????

Hello! When I went to Ossie to do my Masters (with my own hard-earned savings and exhausting it) I did not have my family with me. Because I had no scholarship, they had to remain in Malaysia where my wife had to hold down a job as a single parent to 2 kids to sustain the family. Our scholars had their families with them in the US. And they are complaining!!!

I am so stupid I cannot understand these scholarly arguments.

Anonymous said...

Haha, this goes back to the same old sweet question.

Who the hell takes a scholarship with the intent to serve the country?

Answer: My foot.

All hail bond breakers.

poor common citizen said...

backed only by my most limited understanding of the situation, i'd like to sincerely point out that this is an issue of sheer display of egoism projected to a 3rd world nation by these two so-called academics who were so regrettably funded millions of 3rd world taxpayers' dollars, who were so generously and sympathetically sponsored to one of america's finest universities, in hopes that they would, after their many years of knowledge accumulation, return to their fair country in service to the people who have laid down their own opportunities RM1.4million could bring them, in favor for mr azly and his wife's education overseas.

alas, after the money was taken, the degree granted, perhaps an american education has spurred some of the creative juices of mr azly's mind as to the many excuses/reasons so conveniently expressed by mr azly to justify his "technical inabilities" to return to the very institution and peoples who paid for his school fees abroad.

his so-called private matters, ranging from terrorist attacks to living along the american poverty line, to the arduous journey of an ivy league PhD, are mere excuses, and nothing else, and they can be easily refuted.

in regards to the terrorist attacks, indeed it could be quite an extraordinary experience. however, the question is, just how much impact had the event caused upon you as a foreigner in the country? i absolutely understand the horror and sadness associated with the loss of human life in the tragedy, even more so if there were loved ones among the victims, but then, were there in the case of our dear mr azly? were you preoccupied with rescue operations which might had taken up some of your research time in university, which you were so dearly paid to do so by your compatriots at home? just how long were you struck in the moment of stasis, shock after the event? perhaps those occasions had caused some long periods of non-productivity towards your education? sad and horrible events happen everywhere mr azly, america, the united kingdom, even our doorsteps in malaysia, we could face violent robberies, death, etc, and yet we resume to do what we have to do, which includes studying for some. many refugees, asylum seekers, students from impoverished nations have seen wars and death in their homeland, and yet strive and work hard, even harder when offered a scholarship to study in a 1st world nation, in hopes to bring back to their countries civility and peace. emotional trauma? i thought that was only an excuse americans always use to win more money in the courts.

sickness and death in the family can be quite a burden. i wish to express my profound sympathy to the chain of unfortunate events that had befallen upon your family. i am fully aware that these occassions could be a hindrance to any aspect of life of any person. you may well apply for the extensions which UUM has already granted with compassion, in the taxpayers' expense of course. however, you did understand that there were work to be done? and that UUM has given so generously the maximum number of extensions it could grant according to the rules and regulations so fairly applied to all students across the university? we share your grief, but as with all persons, life goes on, especially when yours were already paid for. just to relieve you of some of your stress in case you were further financially burdened by the astronomical american medical costs, foreign students are recommended to have adequate insurance before embarking overseas, but i am sure you already know of this, you were a PhD student afterall.

already admitted to PhD level study in an elite institution, challenge is expectedly to be expected. were you not consulted that PhDs in columbia university are long and rigorous before you applied to study there? were you of the impression that a PhD was just a simple paper of multiple choice questions when you put your signature upon the scholarship agreement? did you not foresee that a change in supervising staff could occur when you were planning your days in new york? if these hypotheses of mine were true, then you are unfortunately misinformed, misguided, and lazy on your own part to clear whatever doubts or questions in regards to the processes of obtaining a PhD in america. now you seek compensation for the position you are in by virtue of the naivety and ignorance you once had, extremely convenient i'd say. otherwise, if you had already done your homework on the rigours of a PhD, had foreseen the probability of a changing of supervisory staff, or had even expected that UUM only sponsors 3-4 years(?) of PhD education in america where a PhD normally takes a longer period than that to be completed, i see no reason for you to, at this stage of time, make complaints on your dissatisfaction of the above issues. if you were, honestly, already abhor how scholars are (mis)treated and inadequately supported, you could always choose NOT to undergo signing of such a "terrible", "inhumane" contract. your behaviour of taking the money, and degree, then complain, absolutely undermines our faith on how education educates its people on basic ethics.

living in new york is not the most economical decision for a foreign student, but not to be unexpected. you even had the luxury of bringing your whole family to one of the most expensive cities in the world, from this decision of yours alone, i could see that you did not study economics for a PhD. you have incurred upon yourself huge expenses, BY CHOICE, i'm sorry to say. if all malaysian students who study overseas brought their whole family with them, their spouses and children if they have them, or their parents if they are not married, would this be a cheap option to go for, especially in your case where you so constantly pleaded for "mercy", "sympathy", "understanding", or "more funds". as a mature PhD student, i thought you'd know more about the virtue of frugal living in a foreign land.

in any case, you have signed the contract, lived in new york paid by the taxpayers, got your degree sponsored by the taxpayers, and have chosen not to fulfil your part of the contract due to some luxurious demands of yours that fall short of granting you a european car or a chateau in the south of france. the malaysian people have had it, keep your precious degree, keep with you all those new york memories and networks, what we want is the return of our taxpayers money which should not had been granted in the first place to such an ungrateful wretch who have sucked the country enough by virtue of his cunningness, deceit, plot, and heritage.

i myself am just a common citizen in my twenties, without a university education, not even a diploma. yet i could not give any much respect to the "educated", "upper echelons of society", "cream of the crop", "leaders of the nation" as these.

dear mr azly, you are dear to us, perhaps as dear as how much we had paid for your education. if you truly want to contribute to better the nation, come back, without excuses, without conditions, and not hide in some american institution garnering american dollars for retirement. do fight the akujanji contract, but fight it here on this soil, while in the pay of the malaysian peoples, not foreigners.

poor common citizen said...

its me again.

after browsing mr azly's blog, i noticed that he has got one bachelor degree, four masters degrees, and a doctorate, as well as multiple certificates under his belt. i must say i dun see malaysians living along the poverty line everyday while having a bachelor degree, four masters degrees, all from top americaan universities, as well as membership to multiple honoured societies. i did not mention the PhD because he was still "struggling" to earn it in the midst of "poverty".

he and his wife, both have exceptional and enviable academic pedigree, just how many couples in malaysia where both possess ivy league PhDs? they are among the elites of society, well qualified to demand more out of the pathetic 3rd worlders like us malaysians. what a delicate but utilisable leverage.

Anonymous said...

poor common citizen said: "i myself am just a common citizen in my twenties, without a university education, not even a diploma.."
Without a diploma?.. and you wrote better English than many Malaysian graduates I have come across. Comeon..who you kidding? How did you know about the medical insurance required of foreign students if you are just common citizen without a university education? Only students going to the US would know that.

A Malaysian without home said...

Well, the more obvious reason is the "AkuJanji" thing. As already being pointed out by fellow readers, the reasons given by them contained absurdity. To be frank, those outlined by both of them are just to shun away UUM's request without explicitly rejecting the "AkuBullshit" pledge worked out by UMNO. In that way, they protect themselves and UMNO's face. Life is just that simple.

I respect both of them as the neo-Malays whom will lead the country further, and in which Malaysia is seriously lacking. To the contrary, UMNOshits are increasing. Sigh....

Anonymous said...

Whether it is the "akujanji" thing or UMNO or whatever it is. Whoever that has the privilege to get the scholarship should honor their contract. If you don't like the institute who sponsor you, you're free to leave and pay back according to the contract.

I'm not sure whether Azly was politicizing the "akujanji" thing for his own good so he and his wife could avoid paying back the money he received from the goverment or they really wanted to contribute building a better education system in Malaysia.

If he is really fighting for the interest of the public, why did he drag along some datuks to see the minister of MOHE and send a praisal/begging email to the VC of UUM.

Isn't it sounds something similar to the fiasco created by a former teacher who turned politician some times ago ?!?!

Well, even if he is truely fighting for the good of the future academician in Malaysia, there is still no reason why they shouldn't pay back the scholarship they received.

My main question is, are they just using the "akujanji" thing as a reason so that the UUM can fire them and let them free from the bond and work in the more lucrative US university earning USD without paying back the taxpayer's money.

Anonymous said...

When they realised that they could get better pay in the US and peanuts at UUM, then they tried to stay in the US. The akujanji is just an excuse for the larger audience. Notice that he offered to serve as a US based collaborator instead of physically coming back to serve. If he is idealistic and a man of principle, then he should just reimburse the govt. They would stand to lose their US jobs especially if they are not tenured if the Malaysian govt goes after them in court because US universities do not like bad publicity related to any of its faculty members. Let's see how far the govt would go to get its money back or it would just close one eye.

poor common citizen said...

to anonymous 8/15/2007 10:04:00 PM

uhmm, yeah, i really am speaking the truth, i dun have those fancy degrees or diplomas to back me up, yet. i'm still working towards that goal, have to get enough money first, havent i? its always recommended to buy insurance when you go overseas, especially so when you are actually going to a country where healthcare cost is near impossible for the uninsured, such as america, where mr azly had been for several years. even if i did not possessed this common sense, i've got friends to tell me about it. even if i lived like a hermit without friends, there is always the internet :)

thats why i am usually at awe with people who are so lucky(we have to admit people get scholarships from the government for reasons more than academic potential nowadays) to obtain scholarships to further their studies up to such a high level, and we expect them to do good for the society, you know, we hope that the enlightened could show us uneducated barbarians the light to rome.

what mr azly's true intentions are, only he himself knows them. with all the hoo hah about seperating academia from politics, he has enlisted the help of, guess who? politicians, to fight for his cause, rather hypocritical i'd say. just come back and do what you must mr azly, stop whining like an american teenage girl who only has a $100'000 birthday party instead of a $1'000'000 one.

Anonymous said...

I too have seen his bio at his blog. It is really strange why he needed so many masters. Seems to me like this is another one of those professional students who kept taking courses and refusing to graduate, mainly to stay in the country. Having more than one masters or PhDs in the same area does not increase one's employability because in the US, many Master's degrees are given for those who flunk the PhD qualifying exam. I think in the UK, the equivalent consolation degree would be an M.Phil. In this case, this guy's bio is really strange.

SHYLOCK said...

Simple!

A CONTRACT IS A CONTRACT!

res ipsa loquitor

Anonymous said...

This recalls to mind a dear friend of mine. A Bumi and a devout Muslim who never failed to pray five times a day.

This dear friend left a comfy job at a GLC and went to Singapore to do a second bachelors degree. All on his own savings. He even told me that, up till the fourth year, MARA here refuses to give him a loan to help with his finances (he was not asking for a scholarship even) on the basis that they do not lend to "second- timer" undergraduate. Yet this friend was qualified to be admitted to NUS, and went over there with no promise of any employment upon his return.

He was in Singapore alone, wife and kids up in Penang. And where is he now? Back home serving his countrymen. Shame on those 2 scholars, really.

Amir said...

I have great respect for Azly and wife however the thing that he have to endure is something that nearly all PhD candidates have to go through.

I have worked as a cleaner/janitor and other minimum wage jobs to support myself (in between grants). But I come back and served my sponsor at lower salary then the not sponsored colleague.

Now, I'm elsewhere after serving the required years with the sponsor.

Anonymous said...

frankly, i'd like to know what kian ming and tony's responses are as learned ppl and fighters for justice not only for academic integrity but also for the common folk who's RM1.4million is hanging in a limbo now after so many commentators condemning the actions of mr azly and his wife.

Anonymous said...

If one wants to be a public figure, then one has to be squeaky clean. Otherwise, people will criticise him as in this case. I know many non-Bumis see him as a neo-Malay with a more progressive philosophy and wish many more are like him. But, it is difficult to stomach when he did not live up to his obligations. There are many non-Bumis deprived of the opportunities he got and it is disappointing to see him as one of those bond-jumpers no matter what reasons he gave.

Anonymous said...

It appears to me that Kian Ming approved of the scholars' actions and has started this post to lobby support for them. I am disappointed. Is it just blind camaraderie amongst scholars, or is there really some sort of justification for those 2 not to honour the document they had set their hands onto, that almost all of the respondents above cannot see?

Or is it simply that they are all good friends, so close in fact that all those values of Kian Ming (and Tony) that I had so appreciatively followed in this blog can be so readily compromised for their sakes?

Please read what Raja Petra said about writing the article about Zaid Ibrahim in Malaysia Today, and later allowing Zaid Ibrahim to post the latter's reply - that Zaid Ibrahim is a friend of his, but friendship must never stand in the way of principles. I think it is only with such discipline can any blog lay claim to integrity.

Or is not integrity a part of our Malaysian culture anymore?

Clearly Kian Ming is entitled to his opinion, but is there really any doubt, if only from the point of common decency, that what those two are trying to do is wrong?

I will put this issue to my son who is overseas. On our own moneys, of course. If he so much as suggest that the 2 scholars has any right not to come back for any of the reasons listed, I will be so heartbroken, as it must mean that I have failed to bring him up with honour.

Anonymous said...

i now suggest every scholarship holder to cite "rejection of akujanji", "having to work part time jobs overseas", "uni work was too hard and arduous", as valid justifications for them to default their bonds.

now we can finally have the legal and ethical basis as supported by the academia to break our bonds!

academia wills it!!!

Anonymous said...

One thing should be made clear. Azly Rahman and Mutiara Mohamed do not have Ph. Ds. They have Doctor of Education degrees which are not quite the same thing.

The first 24 pages of the two dissertations can be accessed via Google Scholar and Proquest. You can make your own decision about their academic merit but one question immediately springs to mind. Was it necessary to remain in the US after completion of course work and comprehensive exams to write rather slender dissertations on Malaysian topics, Cyberjaya and MRSM?

Anonymous said...

maybe the hustle and bustle and the glamour of new york were too alluring, who wants to come back to cheap, dirty old msia if everything in new york was paid for.

oh, now we noticed that it was actually a EdD instead of PhD, we were all misled by kian ming from the start. excuse us for our ignorance and stupidity for being so gullible, we are but plebians without terminal degrees.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, if their dissertation is about MRSM and cyberjaya, I don't see why is the reason they need to do their PhD in Columbia at the first place. Is that because they can gather more information on that topic easier in US ? Certainly not. Logistically speaking, wouldn'r it be more convenience to conduct the study at the place where the event is happening (in this case, MRSM and cyberjaya in Malaysia). Why need to go so far away to study a local/regional problem ?

I wasn't that their topic is on Malaysian issue at all. I thought they took on some global event like globalisation, freedom of speech and etc. The more it exposes, the more ugly the story became. It make me questions why do they take on a local subject and spend million ringgit to get their so call "PhD". It's totally waste of money.

Anonymous said...

What ?!?! 9 years and 1.4 Million for a EdD !!!

Anonymous said...

well, its not their money, thats for sure. anyone wanna sponsor me to new york or london or tokyo to study the history and culture of msian joget? its not very expensive, RM1.4million would do, no bonds attached of course.

Anonymous said...

That is the major problem with some goverment servants. They seems to feel that spending goverment money is like nothing and they are eligible to do it as they want. You can see so many overseas trip sponsored by goverment are total waste of money.

Anonymous said...

No PhD? Yet they are referred to as "distinguished Malaysian scholars". Yeah, right. RM1.4 million (give or take a couple of RM100,000) is a very distinguished sum.

Are all 30+ of us respondents unjustly wicked in our remarks about their actions?. I think not. I think RM1.4 million can comfortably pay for the educational textbooks, shirts, pants, shoes, stationeries, etc, of at least 100 poor rural students all the way through primary and high schools. Imagine losing the opportunity to improve 100 lives, and maybe the additional 500 proud and rejoicing family members.

Anonymous said...

I think that the readers here have totally diffrent view than this blog :

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

Most of them support "Dr" Azly eventhough they are not coming back to serve the country and believe that it will benefit the country even more by staying overseas ?!?! Note that I used "Dr" as I'm not sure whether he has received his PhD or EdD.

Anonymous said...

There are some more questions that need to be asked.

It seems that Dr Azly is now Adjunct Professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. He is not described as a Visiting Professor. Does this mean that he has acquired permanent residence in the US? If so, when did he start the application process? Or does FDU merely think that he has?

UUM appears to think that Drs Azly and Mutiara went to Columbia to get Ph Ds. Are they confused about the difference between a Ph D and a Doctor of Education? Or did Azly and Mutiara change programs after arrival?

Dr Azly had already received bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Ohio. Who paid for those? And wouldn't he get credit from the Ohio master's course towards his Columbia degree, thereby reducing thew time needed to complete his course work and write a not very substantial dissertation?

Anonymous said...

Adjunct professor is just a part-time professor and not a permanent member of the faculty.Usually he or she is somebody working fulltime somewhere else (industry, govt, etc.) and teach a course at the university on a temporary basis. Sometimes, the position is just in name only without actually coming to teach. Another possible arrangement (especially with industry or govt lab) is that he helps supervise (or host) a visiting graduate student from a university at his industrial or govt lab. One poster here also mentioned "tenure". If you are not used to the US system, you can go to wikipedia and look up "professor" to see all the terms.
In this case, this guy does not have tenure and the position is only part-time. He may already have PR.
I have read some of his writings at Malaysiakini, Lim Kit Siang's blog, etc., and I have to say they are very difficult to read because he like to wrap up simple or even trivial messages or ideas in bombastic and abstract words.
Those multiple masters took time and it appears they are paid for by the govt.

poor common citizen said...

yes, in some ways he does have the knack to obfuscate simple and trivial matters into florid verbosity. perhaps it is some way to justify his gaining a terminal degree from one of the most illustrious and expensive institutions of the americas. all rhetorics, and no substance, however, to his defence for his non-obligation to return.

david said...

dr azly rahman writes pretentiously and has a very shallow knowledge of critical theory, marxism, and western philosophical tradition, to which he so fondly likes to refer.

his understanding of marxism and critical theory appears to show that he has probably only those popular introductory books on the topics.

i am actually quite surprised that columbia university allowed him to pursue the dissertation topic in this manner.

his dissertation-according to the abstract-is to analyse how hegemony or the rule by consent is imposed via cybernetics in the form of cyberjaya.

right away, the premise of the thesis is laid.
there is no analysis of why such an hegemonic construct--the cyberjaya--comes into existence.

there is no analysis of the raw materials--which is the needs and culture of the masses--that cyberjaya is trying to manipulate.

there is only the assumption that social consciousness is blocked from development by reification.
western marxists use reification to describe how human relationships become transform into relationships between commodities.
this means that relationship between commodities dominate and structure human relationships.
think of how in ancient societies, human beings erect before them idols of the jackals and how they allow the idols dominate and structure their lives.

in such a scenario where reification is so pervasive and extensive that critical consciousness cannnot at all emerged, what possibility for progressive change is there?

in such a scenario, dr azly rahman will argue that the role of the intellectual elite, intellectuals such as he, the modern prince, the educator of mankind, becomes important.
miraculously, while all of us whose critical consciousness have been blocked from development by hegemonic construct such as cyberjaya, the intellectual elite, who has read the critical theory of the western marxists, is able to escape from such a fate.
The intellectual elite, who can still think crtically, therefore plays the role of the vanguard of social change.

for detailed criticisms of dr azly's approach, see the comments by max and david in the threads: shopping malls and cultural imperialism, ketuanan melayu, and mantra of cybernetics.

i was doing my graduate work on european intellectual history in the usa many years ago, but had to quit due to financial problems.
i had to come out to work and be contented with just a ba.

dr azly is very lucky.

he goes on government scholarship, studies a discipline which he is intellectually ill-equipped to understand, obtain not just one degree but several degrees, stay in the usa, screw the government of the day in malaysia in his blogs, and gets away with it.

so for uum to sue him amd ask him to pay back the money, i think it is fair.

dr azly should pay his dues and come back to work for the government.

if dr azly decides to come back, i pray that the uum authorities would just allow him to teach english and not philosophy or sociology, the more fanciful stuff.

if dr azly wants to teach critical theory, then he should go do his graduate work all over again at a university--not necessary an ivy league school--where the system makes sure that you really know your stuff before the phd is given.
this time, of course, dr azly will have to pay for himself.

Azly's Son said...

I AM THE SECOND OLDEST SON OF AZLY ABDUL RAHMAN AND MUTIARA MOHAMAD. One thing clear here is that academicians and scholars have truly become more and more underappreciated in the public spectrum around the world.

I am devastated by these comments to say the least, not only because the subjects at hand are my parents, whom I respect and adore more than the world itself, but because of the ignorance and ill-advised opinions ANONYMOUSLY shoved into this opinion box.

The intention of my message here is to offer a completely different perspective. The intention of this message is not to seek sympathy, or discuss any legal compromises at hand, but to offer a son’s message and personal point of view. I have always shied away from the political quagmire that has so long plagued my family, my parents, and my four siblings in the states. I rarely read my father’s blogs, not for the lack of interest or ignorance towards his political agendas, but because I only know him as Abah and to my mother as simply Mama.

As I read these blogs for the first time, I am awestricken. It is devastating to read that some think that he is “hiding in some American institution garnering American dollars for retirement” and that my father’s time here was “a total waste of money” and that “they seem to feel that spending goverment money is like nothing and they are eligible to do it as they want.” When did it become so simple to list a man’s deeds with bulletpoints, weighing out his options, tallying his marks? And to question the validity and hinder tragic events that happened to our family is even more disheartening, to say the least.

Please understand that for over a decade our family has endured great trials and tribulations. Nevertheless, we have also achieved great feats.

Their children are all successful in everything they do. The eldest (24): a business maverick who has found more and more profound ways to become an successful entrepreneur. The third son (19): a marvelous artist who paints murals for school libraries in Nigeria has permanent murals painted around his high school, seeks an architectural degree in the states this year. Their daughter (17): recently inducted into the National Honor Society hopes to one day become a doctor or a psychologist when she enters college. The youngest son (14), who is the protégé of a youth soccer organization, has now been sponsored to travel and play with club teams and hopes to become an engineer one day. And their second son: now at twenty-two, I aspire to one day become half the man my father is, and make my mother the proudest she could be. I have traveled on my own expense this summer to gain experience as an intern at a firm here in Kuala Lumpur, where I promised her I’d one day become a great architect to build her a home.

What does all this mean? Let me relay this message to you that the sacrifices and losses my parents endured during their time in the states has opened a world of opportunities for us, their children, their true legacies amidst a “bullet-point list” of all the circumstances we faced during our time in the states. Here I am giving you five more bulletpoints of their greatest accolades: insurmountable to any degree or doctorate could offer; their five children.

I remember my father’s first job, moving boxes at a local pharmacy, and my mother’s first retail job at a local shopping mall.

I remember my soccer tournament in 1999 when my father’s old caravan broke down a half a mile from the field, and my mother and I ran to the game so I would make it in time for the whistle.

I remember my father’s graduation from Columbia when we scrambled for money to buy his blue and gold Columbia University gown, my brothers and I chipped our bus-boy money so he’d be in proper attire for his ceremony.

I remember my brother being accepted into college but could not go because my parents simply could not afford it.

I remember my mother crying late at night; unable to come up with next month’s rent as I wrapped my arms around her and promised her we’ll be fine.

Amidst all that we’ve been through, my parents still found ways to scrape just enough for us to play, to learn, to see museums, to sing, to dance, to live. Five children. No relatives. You can tally up those bulletpoints.

This is not to lull you over with some “great new york memories” or corny family moments in the family history of Azly and Mutiara. This is our real story. This is my family and those people are my parents.

Please understand how a son feels when his mother and father are subjects of ridicule and public scrutiny, mobbed and challenged everywhere he goes, even during Raya at New York’s Malaysian embassy. These are the people who I live for, who have lived their lives for us.

It is not my intention to wow the audience here, to tell a nice story about our family, to persuade sympathy or condolence, but to ask you to listen and respect the sacrifices my parents made over a decade. Respect what it meant to us when they requested an extension to stay: for me to complete my final high school senior year; the year I was named the most valuable player in high school, and the following year: the year I was inducted into the National Honor Society and Dean’s List. And the following year: the year I won first prize for a regional design competition for architectural design.

Do not undermine the sacrifices that my parents made; sacrifices insurmountable to any amount of dollar or ringgit that have also cost them their decorated careers.

At twenty-two years old, I have seen the highest and lowest points of my family and I am ever determined to uphold their names in honor. God, family, pride, and honor, something even Tok Mak, (Azly’s mother) always taught him, now passed onto his children. It is incredible to witness so little support and so many people quickly belittle the accomplishments and accolades my parents amassed. They have become objects: without first ever understanding “who they are” and “why they are”.

It baffles me to read, “it is really strange why (Azly) needed so many masters. Seems to me like this is another one of those professional students who kept taking courses and refusing to graduate, mainly to stay in the country”. It devastates me that I only share with my family the pride and joy of witnessing my parents’ accomplishments, how I admire their progressive their vision and attitude towards education and learning for Malaysia’s youth has become and could potentially become, yet ridiculed by the people and nation they sought to address.

An anonymous wrote, “maybe the hustle and bustle and the glamour of New York were too alluring, who wants to come back to cheap, dirty old Msia if everything in New York was paid for.” Life wasn’t that easy, ladies and gents. My father recently returned home in effort to mediate some of the issues at hand here. And it baffles me even more now that I am here, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur City Center gaining valuable experience in my short time as an intern at a great architectural firm in KL. One day I hope to become a great architect… No, better yet, an incredible architect so that at each and every living moment, my parents would be proud of the way they raised their children, to repay what they have sacrificed, to secure their legacy. My parents’ only crime is to think of us before them. I hope that you too would some day be proud of all of us, be proud of them… and recognize your true “anak anak malaysia.”

Mazlina Ahmad said...

Salam to all...

Anip! way to go! This is Mak Na, your mom's close friend at Ohio University when we were students together, and I am so very proud of you to write all these truths about the sacrifices endured by your parents and I know the tough times they had to go thru in new York to finish up their studies, raising you guys, the emotional turbulences both had to face...I could go on & on. I KNOW...cuz your mama and I have been sharing a lot. May Allah keep a special eye on you & your beloved family, amin

You talking to me? said...

9 years and 1.4 Million for an EdD on MRSM and Cyberjaya.

If this is not a waste of tax money, what is. Azly and wife signed a contract with UUM for their studies. UUM kept its part of the deal and sponsored these people until the very end, extensions and all.

In return, if they have any integrity, Azly and wife will have to keep their part of the deal. If they don't want to return to malaysia, or don't want to stick to the agreement, they should negotiate a way out with their sponsor and not go MIA and go nasty on UUM.

A contract is a contract. And a contract like this comes with guarantor. Azly's guarantors are now facing the heat of leagal action while he's out there trying to justify his actions. It's irresponsible and unethical for Azly to even allow his guarantors to be subject to legal action because he failed to keep his promise.

Azly should either do the right thing and resolve his contract issue, or cut the bullshit and serve his contract out. For a guy who blogs as "....virtue", his reflection is grotesque.

Anonymous said...

you have done the best you can to support your parents Anip...by the comments left.i know you when you were a lil boy back in mrsm perlis. i was your parents former student...
there are many people here still supporting your parents including myself.
people can easily voice their opinions here be it the negative or the positives.
Just beleive in yourself and your parents..life is never fair anip..Nothing in life is to be feared..it is only to be understood.
take care.

kakak 4 optimis.