Thursday, November 10, 2005

Consultant for USM?

It was recently reported that USM has engaged a consultant to report the reasons why USM dropped out of the THES rankings of the top 200 universities in the world. Tony has already blogged about it here and I want to add my two cents.

Is the hiring of this consultant really needed? For the sake of argument, let's give USM the benefit of the doubt. It might be a useful exercise for USM to confirm that the reason why they dropped out of the top 200 was because its international faculty and student scores were miscoded in the 2004 rankings. While Tony and I strongly believe that QuacquarelliSymonds Limited made the mistake of coding Indian and Chinese students and lecturers as foreign, we have not confirmed this. If USM gets this news from the horses' mouth, hopefully the VC would be more careful in the future in 'using' these rankings for self-promotion. And he might want to pass on the information to his fellow VC in KL. (We're assuming that the consultant hired by USM is indeed QS Limited)

But the report should go beyond this. If its worth the money that USM is paying them (and it cannot be peanuts), then QS should give USM a lengthy description and explanation of their methodology and hopefully the VC and his staff would come out of it a little bit wiser. For example, I would be interested to find out how the employer survey was conducted. Did QS send questionaires to local companies, regional companies or global MNCs? Did QS asked these companies to rank the quality of graduates coming out from universities only in their country or was the net spread wider? It wouldn't surprise me that surveys of this sort, which always has a cost constraint element, fail to have a sound enough or comprehensive enough methodology for some sections especially on a new score like employer rating.

The more important question is this - what is USM going to do with the consultant's report? It is very unlikely that it will make its content publicly available. More likely, USM will select and pick parts of the report that it can 'use' to its advantage. And if the USM VC is really smart, he'll be able to 'use' the report to try to 'boost' the ranking of USM for the following year. He can try to provide internal 'data' to QS Limited to be used in next year's ranking or he can try to find out who QS sends the peer review forms to so that he can try to 'influence' some of them.

Therein lies the danger. The report will be used not to introduce real and substantive change in university policies but to cover up the real and substantial shortcomings in the teaching and research standards in our local universities. I was hoping that perhaps, this report can be used by the VC to highlight the shortcomings within the system and in response, introduce real reform on the pretext of needing to be internationally competitive. But this is likely to be false hope.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

No way the Malay is going to do that for the non Malay. It is because they pride themselves so much to be the privileged on the upper echelon. After all, they do have unquestionable special rights in the Constitution to begin with.

So with that as a start, they would want everything to themselves. They think they deserve everything to themselves within the country. The recent outburst in the Parliament where one of them mentioned "Kalau take suka, keluar dari Malaysia !"
Well my rebuttal would be "Jangan berperangai macam budak manja, saya tidak suka tapi saya masih tidak akan keluar. Kalau boleh keluar, awak bagi saya PR USA atau UK."

I mean come on, these people are spoiled brats themselves who resort to these kind of talk when they failed to get what they want. There is no analysis and thinking in that head of theirs. Is like a 7 year kid throwing tantrum when mommy and daddy refuse to give in to you.

So if the educational institution is as good as they claimed to be, the very fundamental skills, which are critical thinking and analysis where people are suppose to learn in university has failed to surface.

So the question to be asked here is, are they spending money on consultation to have these problems conceptualize to be solved or for the sake of self deception. Its not that I dont trust the VC, but history and results speaks the loudest volume of ones incompetency.

Anonymous said...

The special position of the malays as prescribed under Article 153 of the Constitution is limited in scope to only the reservation of reasonable quotas in these 3 sectors: public services, educational places and business licenses.

Hence, the present rampant racial discriminations practiced on almost every facet of our national life are mostly violations of the Constitution. Examples of these violations are:

(a) Racial discrimination in the appointment and promotion of employees in publicly funded bodies, resulting in these becoming almost mono-raced bodies. These bodies include: the police, civil service, army and various semi and quasi government agencies.

(b) Imposition of compulsory share quota for malays in non-malay companies.

(c) Imposition of compulsory price discounts and quotas in favour of malays in housing projects.

(d) Completely lop-sided allocation of scholarships and seats of learning in clearly unreasonable proportions that reflect racial discriminations.

(e) Blanket barring of non-malays to publicly funded academic institutions (that should include the Mara).

(f) Barring of non-malays from tenders and contracts controlled directly or indirectly by the government.

Our Constitution provides for only one class of citizenship and all citizens are equal before the law.

The presence of Article 153 does not alter this fact, as it is meant only to protect the malays from being “squeezed” by other races by allowing the reservation of reasonable quotas on certain sectors of national life.

However, this Constitution has now been hijacked through decades of hegemony of political power by the ruling party to result in the virtual monopoly of the public sector by a single race.

The ensuing racism, corruption and corrosion of integrity of our democratic institutions have brought serious retrogression to our nation-building process in terms of national unity, morality, discipline and competitiveness of our people.

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Anonymous said...

This is a little off the topic, but just to comment from Hero's first paragraph.

I remembered my grandma gave me a 'general knowledge' question when I was very young. She lived through the Japanese Occupation and she had many stories to tell. Her question was like this.

There are 3 main races in Malaysia. They are the Malays, Chinese and the Indians. Can you tell me, where did these 3 races came from. Her answers were, Sumatra, China and India.

When I attended primary school, there was a general knowledge competition during Moral lesson. My teacher asked us all to prepare a question each.

I wrote the same question. To be safe, I checked with the malay teacher to make sure I don't give the wrong answers to my own question.

I still remembered her reaction very clearly. She told me, 'Tak ada soalan macam tu. Melayu memang dari Malaysia' with a stern look.

From then on, I kept my mouth shut regarding that question.

Anonymous said...

We will be celebrating our day of independence but somehow or other, that sense of joy or pride is totally absent in me, and I guess with many others too.

As usual, government leaders will be coaxing the public to be patriotic by flying our flag and yet, until today, I don't see many doing it unlike past years.

In any case, I am writing this letter with a sense of despondency that Merdeka Day has hardly raised any excitement in me anymore, and perhaps I know the reason why.

As a citizen and a non-malay, we have been branded with all sorts of names - 'pendatang', terrorists or extremists.

As a non-Muslim, I live in apprehension everyday because for some rhyme and reason best known to Umno, we have suddenly been declared an Islamic state even though our sacred Constitution states otherwise.

When we question the Islamic state declaration, we are told that if do not like it, we can get out. I am wondering what our East Malaysian brothers (Ibans, Kadazans, etc) have to say about this.

We have an Umno leader who has to go on a 'keris' wielding spree during the recent Umno general assembly. Would it not have been appropriate if Umno leaders - on the first day of their meeting - release white doves as a symbol of peace and wish all Malaysians well?

We are not getting any more united than 10 years ago. Today the racial divide has gone from bad to worse and if that is not all, religious divide has also encroached into our way of life.

It is such a big let down knowing that I am not even considered a part of the Malaysian community on this auspicious day.

One thing I am looking forward to this Merdeka Day is to sleep late, have a good rest and be ready to toil again after Aug 31 just so to put food on the table for my family.

Anonymous said...

Some have claimed that the bumis dominate the banking industry, I would agree. And dominate the automobile industry in Malaysia.

Out of the 10 anchor banks in Malaysia, only Hong Leong Bank, Public Bank Bhd and Southern Bank are controlled by non-bumis.

Again, after Oriental Holding Bhd lost it franchise and dealership of Honda. Hyundai franchise has been acquired by Sime Darby. Only Tan Chong which holds distributorship of Nissan remain under non-bumis.

Actually, it is ridiculous to excluded Government Link company (GLC) on it calculation on 18% ownership. If included GLC, bumis control more than 50% of Malaysia economy. All GLCs are head by bumis and majority of its staff comprises bumis plus it has the bumis culture.

Other than the two industries highlighted, they fail to include plantation industry. With the GLC control of Sime Darby, Guthrie and Golden Hope, bumis actually control the majority of the plantation land in Malaysia.

It just that it yield of the company unable to compete with those control by non-bumis like IOI Group, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd and PPB Oil Palms Bhd. Thus, it's time to improve efficiency and competitiveness rather than improve percentage of ownership.

All the plantation company also has a property development arm to capitalize on the landbank like Sime UEP, I&P and Gutherie Land.

Bumis also control all the free to air TV via Media Prima Bhd. Holding company of TV3.

At one point of time, bumis control the whole Kuala Lumpur transport system via IntraKota and Park May Bhd. However, both have been acquired by the government due to inefficiency and unable to pay its debts. Again, this is a question of efficiency and not a question of ownership percentage.

I have several remarks to make on Vision 2020. However, with the present state of mind in the country in which alternative views are seen with deep antagonism, I doubt we can make it. We cannot have sound advice and have prejudice in its implementation. Our stumbling block is our prejudices, racial or otherwise.

To talk about the NEP and achieving a 30 percent share of the wealth sounds myopic to me. If the third-rate politicians are allowed to continue with this propaganda to get elected, the electorates deserve what they get. By continually shouting these slogans, they actually give the bumis a sense of inferiority complex.

We are only less than half a percent of the world population. Why don't we open our eyes and look at the other 99 percent of the world market instead of looking just at the wealth of the non-malays in Malaysia.

The solution lies with the politicians and the people.

Edmund Terence Gomez says it who owns corporate Malaysia, and he is absolutely correct in observing that the Chinese Malaysian entrepreneurs have not managed to develop brand names or move up the technological ladder as a result of the NEP.

And I am glad to read that the likes of executive director of the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) agrees that another NEP policy like the kind that we have had before is not a wise move.

If not for the NEP, one would argue that by now, Malaysia would already have produced super companies and super brand names like Samsung and Sony.

Instead, Malaysia continues to drive her most gifted Malaysians such as engineers, entrepreneurs, managers, researchers, scientists, etc out of the country to work for other world-class companies.

If the whole idea of another NEP policy is still to try to get the bumis to own 30 percent of corporate Malaysia, then we'd have missed the big picture altogether.

Because there is a bigger pie out there and corporate Malaysia has to get serious about competing globally rather than to still try and decide how to divide our own little pie amongst ourselves.

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