Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Thick-Skinned Academics

Sigh. There's just an incredible need for our civil servants, politicians and academics to make themselves "look" really "good". First, we get "brown-nosing academics" and now, we have really "thick-skinned academics". Thanks to a reader at Sdr Lim Kit Siang's blog, we get a picture of the UM academics loudly proclaiming their "achievement" of world class university status. See picture below:

And of course, the largest picture belongs to the Universiti Malaya vice-chancellor, Dato’ Professor Hashim Yaacob (far left) - who was recently embroiled in the debacle involving Dr Terence Gomez.

It is clear that the honourable vice-chancellor is basing his loud proclaimation on the 89th placing achieved in the World Universities Rankings table compiled by the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES). Readers of this blog will be well aware of the discussions surrounding how the 89th placement was likely to have been achieved based on invalid assumptions.

I cannot help but wonder, which other world class university in world actually puts up large bilboard advertisements with the faces of the senior academics to proclaim themselves "world-class". I certainly do not see it at our neighbouring universities, National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), ranked 18th and 50th respectively by THES. And I can say with certainty that no Oxford don worth his salt will ever want to have his face plastered on such an embarrassing bilboard of self-praise, even though they are ranked the top 5 in the world.

Instead of doing the nation proud, the bilboard will merely make a laughing stock out of Malaysia's premier university. The whole episode brings to mind a bucketful of meaningful Malay idioms.

Gedang sebagai dilambuk-lambuk, tinggi sebagai dijunjung
. The honourable vice-chancellor has been proudly praising the "world-class" achievements of Universiti Malaya, whilst they were most likely totally absent.

The honourable vice-chancellor should instead pay heed to the idiom - subur kerana dipupuk, besar kerana diambak, for one's status and achievements in society is not based on one's own proclaimations, but on the recognition by all peers and followers.

On top of that, given that THES is likely to revise their methodology and make adjustment for errors made in the first edition of the world university rankings table, it is very likely that Universiti Malaya will find itself on a free-fall on the rankings table. What will the honourable Vice Chancellor say then? Will he take down the bilboard proclaimation? Hendak harum terlalu hangit.


clk said...

So typical in this part of the world.

I remember when I was working in Indonesia a few years back, a few ceremonies I attended (wedding included) where the MC read out the academic titles of the people in question after mentioning their names. So print it on their wedding cards as well.

You only blow your own trumpet when air is the only thing you have!

Anonymous said...

I take it some of the deans pictured on the promo didn't willingly agree to this? Please I hope?

Anonymous said...

You all whack like that sure the UMian susah hati mah.

Hmmm... that poster looks more like an advertisement to me. Too bad for them I never trust an advertisements.

Golf Afflicted said...

UMians don't have to be sakit hati-lah. :)

The comments did not suggest that UMians are "incompetent". It was to raise the awareness as to how some of our senior academics and administrators at our local universities are spending their time and money.

:) Tony P

Anonymous said...

Hi, do you have any resources on campus elections results of University Malaya from 1998-2004? Thanks

Anonymous said...

One sentence,

Delusional of grandeur by the people in UM.

Their work is a joke, their research is a joke. The education standard in Malaysia is so bad that itis frightening. Yet people inside do nothing about it. Good job for screwing up big time and making more politicians to govern Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

sobering write-up by WildRose ... ty

Anonymous said...

WildRose ... u shld try and get yr Masters in Singapore instead ..i think u can do well there ...

interesting article abt Singapore's education system ...