We have always known that the art of currying favour is pervasive in our political circles with one always trying to outdo another in the attempt demonstrate one’s “absolute” loyalty to a senior politician. This is done in the hope that he or she will be able to gain, whether financially through contract handouts or other pecuniary gains through appointment to influential positions such as town councillors. This culture of currying favour is to be abhorred, although we tend to be more tolerant of it if it’s limited strictly to the sphere of politics.
However, when this “art” permeates into the culture of the elite academia of Malaysia, that’s when you know that things have really gone way too far. Where can you find clear examples of this culture in our universities? Well, they are really not hard to find at all. In the case of Universiti Malaya, you will find them on newspaper advertisements and large billboards and posters. But after a quick search, you can find it right on the university’s website itself!
Here’s some examples of how the university, clearly directed by the vice-chancellor utilises the crude version of the art of flattery and grandeur on his direct and indirect superiors:
UNIVERSITY OF MALAYAForgive my lack of understanding and comprehension of what the above statements. Maybe that’s why my English did not get an ‘A’ at ‘O’ Levels. I am completely gobsmacked as to what the above means.
BEHOLD THE MASTERY OF THE OLD GLORY.
Witness ISLAM HADHARI at work in UM!Yes, our Prime Minister will be most pleased with being mentioned in some of the most ungrammatical sentences you can find on the website. There is just so much enthusiasm in attempting to show that the vice chancellor and “his team” are “completely” in line and smitten with the Prime Minister’s vision and philosophy. If only they could channel these enthusiasm more productively, like towards actually constructively improve the standards of the university. The above is not the worst of it. There’s more:
The Prime Minister, YAB Dato’ Seri Abdullah Hj. Ahmad Badawi wants the nation to be Cemerlang, Gemilang & Terbilang and the nation should produce towering personalities. His Islam Hadhari wants Malaysia to prosper and move forward.
The Minister for Higher Education, Dato’ Dr. Hj. Mohd. Shafie Salleh has diligently toiled in raising the standard of higher education. Through the PM’s and Minister of Higher Education’s untiring and sincere leadership, the nation is witnessing the rise of the universities and other institutions of higher learning.Now, if the above statements are not meant to bodek the Prime Minister and the Minister of Higher Education, I don’t know what it is. Such statements really have no place in a university. Try searching the top universities in the United Kingdom, United States or even Australia – their vice-chancellors would probably rather one walked over their dead body than to condone such blatantly contrived statements of flattery.
Of course, the vice-chancellor cannot but help himself to end his eulogy with the following:
This year alone, it has done the nation proud by being named as one of the 100 best universities in the world.Now this brings us back to the original debate. The vice-chancellor probably hasn’t had time to have his web development team update his website yet. Anyway, today you’d find the in the Star letters column, the first of probably many letters to be written by the deans of Universiti Malaya, coming to the defence of their beleaguered vice-chancellor. The letter, written by Prof Dr Mohamad Rom Tamjis, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, was entitled “UM Falls in Ranking But is on Right Track”. Hmmm...
Prof Dr Mohamad Rom Tamjis wanted to highlight certain “points” which the public may not have been “aware of”. He takes credit for the university’s credible ranking of 82nd in the area of biomedicine. Yes, his is the dean of the Faculty of Engineering. Although he wasn’t absolutely clear, he probably correlates the performance in the biomedicine sector to his 10-year-old biomedical engineering programme at UM.
No, Professor, the field of biomedicine is not equivalent to the degree in biomedical engineering. It is the field which in all probabilities is dominated by the faculty of medicine. The other subjects covered will be pharmacology and possibly biology, biochemistry and biomedical engineering. Is this an attempted case of trying to “hijack” credit?
Prof Dr Mohamad Rom Tamjis was also very proud of the fact that
… graduates from this course are well sought after by employers. There are graduates who even changed jobs three times in two years.Err… is that actually a good thing? I’m now worried about the career guidance tips that our professors are providing our fresh graduates. But that’s probably something to blog about at another time.
Finally, Prof Dr Mohamad Rom Tamjis concluded, predictably as follows:
Testimonies and acknowledgements from international peers are very encouraging. For all these, UM truly deservers world recognition.Sigh. Is this another case of the practice of the art of flattery and bodek at our local premier universities? Is there truth in the allegations (see comment made by an anonymous reader here) whereby the vice chancellor “only nurtures half witted dimwits who will shower praises upon him”.
Is this letter an attempt by the Dean of Engineering to repay the vice chancellor’s role in promoting him?
The promotion exercise is done as if he is the King bestowing datukships. The promotion board consists of his spineless sidekicks who dare not oppose him. Therefore candidates who are not fit to be promoted are promoted… He promotes underachievers like Rom Tamjis who took two attempts to do his Ph.D to become the Dean of Engineering. I am told that the Peer Assessors at Engineering recommended that he be not even shortlisted for promotion.Are the above allegations true? Are our local premier universities becoming permeated with the culture of unashamed flattery and grandeur all the way from the vice-chancellor down to the lecturers? I’m not an alumni of Universiti Malaya, but I’m hugely saddened by what is happening to our premier local university suffering under a vice-chancellor who has a penchant for grandeur by being occupied with actions such as directing “all faculties to hang his portrait everywhere”.