Sunday, June 12, 2005

Dr Terence Gomez Reinstated

As the PSD "top student" scholarship fiasco comes to a "happy ending", another less expected surprise was lying in store.

Our Minister of Higher Education, Datuk Dr. Shafie Salleh "has approved two years' unpaid leave for Assoc Prof Dr Terence Gomez to take up his post with the United Nations in Geneva" as reported in the Star and Malaysiakini today.
This means Dr Gomez will now be able to take up the post of project manager for research in identity, conflict and social cohesion with the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) without resigning from the Economics and Administration Faculty of Universiti Malaya (UM). [The Star]
Dr Gomez was evidently pleased (see picture here) with the outcome.
"I am very grateful to the prime minister for responding to my call to intervene in this matter." [Malaysiakini]
While I congratulate Dr Gomez on his reinstatement, a clearly positive outcome for our education system, once again, there are plenty of questions in the way our system is run.

  1. 1. As raised in my earlier blog on the scholarship fiasco episode, "Why does it take our Prime Minister to discharge his "powers" before the "right" things are done for simple and fairly routine exercises?" No Prime Minister should have to deal with such "micro" issues, which should be carried out competently by our civil service. While Pak Lah has yet to make any official statement on the issue, I'm fairly certain he was the hidden hand behind the reinstatement, although the message was carried by our Minister of Higher Education (who is embroiled in another university controversy reported in the Star, here, here and here and highlighted by Lim Kit Siang here).

  2. Is this "U-turn" a clear slap in the face for the Vice Chancellor of University of Malaya Prof Dr. Hashim Yaacob? Dr. Hashim had yesterday defended his position not to grant Dr Gomez unpaid leave to take up his project manager role at the UN. In a press statement by opposition leader, Lim Kit Siang, Dr Hashim has offered some irrational reasons in defending his position:

    Hashim had compounded the offence when he insinuated that Gomez has not sufficiently loyal to Malaysia or fully committed to the University of Malaya and the country in accepting the two-year appointment with the Geneva-based [UNRISD] when he said that "any individual should consider the interests of their 'students, country and thenation' before deciding to resign".
    Is Hashim seriously suggesting that should a day come when a Malaysian is offered the post of United Nations Secretary-General, this offer should be turned down in favour of such a Malaysian being able to continue to serve inside the country?
    Dr Hashim, in his statement has depreciated both his intellectual competence as well as the reputation of University of Malaya.

  3. And finally, it strikes me as a tad "scary" the reply made by our Minister of Higher Learning, Dr Shafie Salleh when asked about Dr Gomez's resignation by the Star reporter:

    Dr Shafie said: “As the minister, I have the power to hire and fire, so I have revoked his resignation."
    Why is our academia subjected to such absolute controls from our political Minister? How are we to create "Towering Malaysian personalities" as espoused by our Prime Minister if our academia is subjected to the whims and fancies of the Minister? From the quote above, you can almost tell how proud Dr Shafie is, to have such "powers".

For those attending the "Solidarity with Dr Gomez" dinner - the dinner is definitely still on. It's now:

"Celebration with Dr Terence Gomez!"
Hosted By: Lim Kit Siang (Parliamentary Opposition Leader)

13 June 2005(Monday) 8.30pm

Click Here for Location)
RM40 (Public) RM20 (Student)
First-Come First-Served!
Contact: 03-79578022 ( John/Ms Lim)

See you all there! :)

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