Sunday, November 06, 2005

More "Praise" for Universiti Malaya

Calvin & Hobbes is my favouritest comic. I have it's entire collection! And this panel "dugged" up by the Discordant Dude, portrays with the greatest understatement, the malaise in our higher education system.

Having written an earlier letter to highlight aspects of the quality of Universiti Malaya (UM) in the letters column earlier in the week, Prof Dr Mohamad Rom Tamjis has written another one, this time to the letters column of the Star Education pull out in praise of UM.

I commented on his earlier letter in the blog post - The Art of Flattery @ Universiti Malaya, and it appears that Prof Dr Mohamad Rom Tamjis will continue to provide "rock solid" support to his Vice Chancellor who promoted him to the Dean of the Engineering Faculty. While the previous letter was entitled "UM falls in ranking but is on right track", this one is entitled "Done well despite national demands".
Despite having to shoulder the duty of upholding the government’s policies and ensuring their successful implementation – which universities in other countries may not be subjected to – Universiti Malaya (UM) has performed very well in the international arena.
Let me see if I understood the above statement correctly. Is Prof Dr Mohamad Rom Tamjis alleging that "the duty" to uphold the government's policies comprised the standards at Universiti Malaya? Hence the reason why UM did not perform as well as "universities in other countries" as these other universities are not subjected to the same constraints? Interesting, we would definitely be interested in finding out what exactly are the government policies which are hindering the achievement of excellence at our local universities. These hindrances should definitely be voiced so that our universities will be able to achieve higher standards.
With regards to UM's world ranking this year at number 169 compared to 89 last year, it must be noted that this time, the evaluation criteria is more encompassing and comprehensive.
Errr... Prof, doesn't that mean that the previous year's ranking in which UM managed to squeeze into the Top 100 was an anomaly because the evaluation criteria is less "encompassing and comprehensive"? Why should we be happy about it?

And as expected, he ended the letter on a "high", asserting that UM should still be "congratulated". Interestingly, he also appealed for "concerned citizens" of the country to defend UM's image:
Only the best 200 universities are listed and UM is in the list... UM should be congratulated for its excellent performance at the international level. I hope that everybody, including those in UM, will continue to support the university to achieve a better performance in the future.

As UM is an icon of Malaysia, I feel that it is the duty of every concerned citizen of this country to defend its image and continue to support it for the good of our country.
Both Kian Ming and myself are extremely concerned citizens of Malaysia. It is because of our concerns which we feel that it's absolutely necessary to highlight the arrogance and malaise in the current administration of the university, which can only at some point in time, lead to further deterioration of standards at not only UM, but also other public universities in Malaysia.

We would argue that the manner in which both the vice chancellor of UM as well as Prof Dr Mohamad Rom Tamjis have been "defending" the image of the university have instead served to further heap dirt on Malaysia's premier institution of higher learning. Their statements have been dogmatic, arrogant, recalcitrant, constricted as well as analytically and intellectually unsound. We are providing constructive criticism to ensure that UM will not become a fallen icon of Malaysia, which will in effect make it's image indefensible except by parties whose sole interest is to "curry favour" the superiors.


Kian Ming said...

If your reputation is secure, there is very little need to 'defend' it. After all, there are very few people who would argue that Harvard doesn't deserve to be ranked at no.1 or that Cambridge or Oxford are not world class universities. Even then, Oxford and Cambridge have come under serious scrutiny as the US universities have poached their best academics with offers of more research funding and better pay. If Oxford and Cambridge has to respond to these competitive pressures, how much more does UM need to do to increase its reputation and standards?

Anonymous said...

They are doing damage control that is basically what they are doing. People in authority do that when something bad happened to them. The way to do it is like one of the blog mentioned, blatantly deny the results and still claim that they are good.

These people hold absolute power in the academia. So for all you know they wont even care what other people say about them. To implicate them, they must be discredited continously in the face of the public using consistency of proofs and results.

After all, they are denying all the results published by THES themselves, and the underlying point of arguement they are using is THES is using new stuff to measure result hence not accurate let alone not consistent.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree with anon. Remember when Malaysia was ranked low in some survey or other, and even Najib our No. 2 man started to use the same tactic by expounding spin that Malaysia is still far ahead of Nigeria/Nairobi or some other ridiculous thing.

Yes, one way to fight this is to continue to highlight them. But we must be wary of descending into hatchet jobs. There must be proof.

One of the reasons why Kerry lost against Bush was because they resorted to haphazard finger-pointing without proof, the malice of which turned people off and discredited themselves.

Maverick SM said...

It isn't about the art of flattery that matters, or even bother us. It is the art of fallacy and fallacious contentions that pricks us. It's bodekism that ensures those incompetent would survive within the system.

Anonymous said...

How long more do you want to be bullied by the racists in Umno?

How long more do you want to be treated like second-class citizens?

How long more before 5% discount on houses is abolished?

How long more before the Internal Security Act is repealed?

How long more before a non-malay gets to be VC at a public university?

How long more before racist MPs are forced to resign?

How long more before all the tollbooths are dismantled?

How long more before we get to scrutinize the Petronas accounts?

How long more before we get a free press?

How long more before you can accumulate enough money to send your kids to study overseas?

How long more……….?

I assume this reply was meant for some person.

He supports having Umno* stepping over his rights and that of his brethrens.

He likes to be treated as an outcast. A Chinaman, an immigrant who does not belongs in this country - penumpang.

That is his definition of being "Malaysian".

*Umno - being a majority party, suffers from insecurity and denial syndrome. It is a big bully. Surprisingly, a lot of Malaysians enjoy being bullied.

Anonymous said...

Well, special rights are for the equitable share of bumi wealth. The opportunities are also there for the cronies who have enriched themselves tremendously.

The kampung people remain poor. They continue to eke out a living farming rice and fishing. They are kept shackled by their religion with their lives resigned to fate. That's why we have the opposition. Getting their support means there has been a failure to equally share wealth among the malays.

And now we have bumis who are more equal than others. I know that the bumis in Sabah and Sarawak are not equal to those in the peninsula.

Why is it that after 48 years of independence we need to perpetuate these special rights for special people? Why are these rights entrenched in the fabric of life to the extent we have seen an exodus of other races to foreign countries? And no one is to question such rights unless they get thrown into jail.

The NEP is upheld for the rich and not the poor in Malaysia.

Inevitably, special rights will be abused because this is a blunt tool that can never be efficient. The more people benefit from it, the more it will be abused.

The real issue about special rights is how long we can afford for it to be abused before we have to remove it. This was the main point of argument by our founders.

There can never be equal footing - not even among people of the same race. The point of affirmative action is not equal footing but rather more to create a reasonable safeguard against not being excluded, i.e., marginalised.

Diversity is a strength and benefit to society and this must be the goal rather than equality. This is also why quotas are illegal as affirmative action in other countries.

The truth is that the malays of this country partly owe their independence to the non-malays. The reason was that the British refused to give independence without an agreement from the non-malays.

Given the leverage of the non-malays, there was no reason to give up equal rights.

It is a shame that our history has been constantly twisted so that our younger generation has no understanding of Malaysia's foundation and its true aspirations.

Anonymous said...

I am a Chinese Malaysian and I am a firm believer of affirmative action which in Malaysia, we see implemented through the conference of special rights and privileges to the bumis after the unfortunate 1969 incident.

However, looking at the results of the implementation of the special rights system in our country, it should not be a surprise that the non-bumis have grouses against the system.

And I think that like-minded Malaysians are missing the real point of the unhappiness felt by the non-bumis, i.e. the abuse of the system. This is the same reason why there are also bumis who are equally as unhappy with the special rights and privileges in Malaysia.

Whether we admit it or not, the problem is that the special rights and privileges given have now resulted in only a selected few bumis getting richer and richer. The bulk of the bumis, especially in the rural areas are not benefiting from the system.

I share this as one who is from an East Coast state. In the vote swung to the opposition in the East Coast because the malays there were fed-up of a system that has not benefited them and only served to line the pockets of the elite few.

An implementation that fairly distributes opportunities to the poor and deserving bumis would not bring about unhappiness from both non-bumis and bumis alike.

Also, an affirmative action plan should not be something to be taken for granted and mocked at by the recipients. Again, I share from a personal experience. I was a recipient of a scholarship from one of our local conglomerates, fortunate enough to be selected through the gender and race quota process.

I have also learnt to empathise with my bumi friends who are really smart and intelligent but come from middle and lower income families. Their frustration is very real.

Thus, the special rights and privileges system in Malaysia really needs to be reviewed. It is sad that something that was much needed once to re-engineer the social and economic structure of our country now causes much resentment among the non-bumis of this country, as well as the bumis themselves.

Anonymous said...

Yes! There are now many malay millionaires and billionaires.

Numbers can be made, especially through abuse of NEP to enrich a few malays while ignoring the majority except a few months before election.

Look malays! Wake up! In Malaysia, without an iota of doubts, Chinese dominate the economy. And we can see Chinese are more prosperous as a race than malay or Indian.

In an open competition, the best wins. The question is, why malays loose out?

Forget Umno! 50 years after Merdeka, their whatever policies such as NEP, are only good on paper but have failed miserably to empower the malays due to abuses.

After 50 years, Umno annual conference still talk about how to improve the malay lots. What is this? After 50 years, the malays should now have been an empowered race, who can compete fairly with our Chinese friends. Who can compete without the need of government's tongkat.

Again, the faults is of malays, not Chinese. Malays should make a major paradigm change to improve their lots and be able to compete fairly with their Chinese friends.

I dream of that day when malays will have fairer share of economic pies from their own hard works.

Anonymous said...

The foul play of meritocracy system only can fool the people in a confined environment but not in today's competitive globalization market place. The "blind" attitude has to be changed.

If you are not really selecting the best from the people, then your team can always remain the most as a mediocre one. The so called "among the blind nation, the one eyed man is the king" applies.

You just do not have the competitive edge in the global market. Meanwhile the good woods are flowing out of the country and let our competitors to use them against our advantage.

That explains why 80000 graduates are unemployed. Degree is simply a product of a rubber stamp work. When you do not have the materials, whatever name you have equates to zero.

It is a joke when the graduates are sent back for retraining of how to use a computer, how to speak English, how to learn good manners for interview. When could these people wake up!

The IT graduates are mediocre in their computer works; most of the government websites are poorly maintained such that PM Badawi at one time was so angry about it. The banking system; just a few months ago in the paper, a small branch manager of a bank in Masjid Tanah Melaka could siphon out RM16 millions from the depositors over a couple of year. The bank only knew that when a depositor could not withdraw his own money.

What a system and what a joke! That is the type of our accountants trained under default meritocracy system. There are countless similar examples.

If we still do not wake up and continue to waste our time and energy in this kind of unproductive prejudice i.e. default meritocracy system, we will be thrown out far behind others.

As time goes on, the difference will be exponential as we can see today we can't afford even to hire our own experts back if we want to.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

It is better that you leave Malaysia. This country is full of crap. Everything is crap here. There is racism and lots of red tape bureaucracy. Malaysia don't practise meritocracy.

If a bumi is not even capable in comparison with a Chinese or Indians, he will still get all the goodies and left the shit to the other races. I advise the government not to help the stupid bumis but to give equal rights to everyone and also judge a person based on his merits and not his background or race.

If the government continues to help those incapable bumis and not cutting those red tapes, I think Malaysia will not meet its 2020 vision. Also my advise to those bumis: To the Hell with you!!!

There has been a survey done to investigate whether Chinese, Indians and Malays are hardworking. They found out that malays are the ones to be lazy. Lazier than Chinese and Indians. They do not have the motivation to strive harder.

Most of Malaysia's success come from the hard work of other races while the malays just reaped the fruits that the Chinese and Indians sowed. The Malaysian government know about this fact and that's how they implemented to protect those bumis from lagging behind the other races.

If you agreed with what I had said, you know that this is making sense. However if you disagree on my views, here is 2 possibilities ---

(1) you are a bumi that is receiving help from the government and hence you don't make any contribution to the society.

(2) you are a corrupted, biased person that is easily influenced, just like our police force. Think about it.

Anonymous said...

I read noneedname letter and immediately told my wife that it felt like I was looking into a mirror. You see, my family and I have, like noneedname and his family, decided to leave Malaysia.

Certainly, it is my belief that if I do not take my family out of this country, I will continue to subject my child, and her children after her, to the continuing injustice of this contract. I often thought the new administration under our new prime minister presents new hopes for fairer treatment.

just as the previous PM was an exciting breath of fresh air some 22 years ago but proved so putrid much later on, I feel I cannot subject my child and her children after her, to the same risk. That risk being that this PM too, may abandon fresh hopes for justice in exchange for immediate gains to himself, his family, his supporters and his race.

I had the chance of a quick brush with a young man, who represents the future of the ruling party.

He was trying to explain what went wrong in respect of the many who could not be given places to study medicine in local universities, despite scoring top marks. He thought it had something to do with the fact that the assessment procedures were totally academic, and as academic capabilities of students reached a plateau where many scored top marks, another dimension needed to be introduced, to further differentiate these talents.

This was necessary as there were simply not enough places for medicine in local universities as more and more scored top marks. I kept very quiet as he did his quick discourse.

I thought it was painfully obvious the shortage of places came about principally because there was a backdoor through which many entered and took up seats. While many more scored top marks in STPM than before, many continue to gain entry without having to.

If a bright, very well-educated, articulate young man espoused thoughts which totally ignored the fundamental injustice of our system, what future does our country hold?

If this is future prime minister material, then I really feel people like noneedname and I are doing the right thing by taking our children out. Bright people may not be just people. No matter how bright and well-educated our future leaders are, if they choose to continue to hold on to an obviously unjust system, we cannot subject our children's future to these leaders.

My father did not have the opportunity to leave. I now have to pay the price of starting anew - abandoning a secured and well-paid job - so that my child escapes the injustice.

Am I enjoying life here in KL? You bet. Like noneedname, my wife and I draw incomes for lifestyles too painful to sacrifice.

Yet, if we choose to be concerned only with our own job security and comfortable lifestyles, our child may one day be faced with the decision I now face.

What if she does not have the same opportunity to leave for another country? I feel I must leave now, while the window remains open.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Little Baba: Mr master UM, is that true that UM is improving?

Master UM: Yes, yes my dear little baba, look, can't you see, can't you smell?

Little Baba: I am sorry sir, it smells rotten cat and shit, and what are those little worms there?

Master UM: these are our official "cemerlang winners", look at them, they do not think, they do not speak, they eat, eat and sweat and enjoy their mediocrity.

Little Baba: But, Mr Master UM, Sir, whay are they always looking at me, why they stop me from doing my job, why they will make sure that I will never be given a lab, why are they insulting me continuoulsly?

Master UM: because you are good and honest.

Little Baba: Isn't it two major qualities to success as academe?

Master UM: Ah! Ah! Ah! very funny little fellow. WE DON'T WANT GOOD AND HONEST FELLOWS, WE WANT SNAILS, SNAKES, LYERS, BLACK MAGIC EXPERTS, LAZY FAT ASSES, LOOSERS, we want the shitiest fellows possible.

Little Baba: But how shall I success?

Master UM: You are not a worm, we will never recognize your achievments, like every one: black mgic, blackmail, back stabbing, mobbing, insults, you also poison.

Little baba: why your are not helping the productive academe to escape from politic traps. Do you care? They are the one who keep UM floating?

Master UM: Oh! Oh! Oh! we don't care, it is part of your job, you must be able to let our friends split on your face and you must continue your duties with a smile. We do not want to float, we pretend only, we do not care about UM, we use it, we suck it dry, we bluff the ministry of education, we bluff the society, Ah Ah Ah We are protected, no one can touch us, we do what we want. We are dirty pretenders and as long as the guys in the ministry will give us grants and supports we will rule, anyways they are so dum.

Little Baba: But I will become ill

Master UM: Ah! Ah! Ah! we don't care about that because you are not a worm. We want you out now.Remember the brilliant professors are all out now, our little worms with stupid faces and brand new Honda are our worms,let them destroy what was once the best university in the region.

Little Baba: And the students, do you care?

Master UM: Hee Hee Hee so funny, we don't care of these fools, we just use them for politics.

Little Baba: Mr Master UM sir, isn't it a bit depressing?

Master UM: No my dear, join the worms, yes, eat, eat, inflate, please stop thinking, yes , inflate, yes, warm your chair and become dum, yes my dear, like this.Gossip, wear your slippers, yes sleep all day, yes give some cash, yes bribe your clercks, and remember: expel the good people.

Little Baba: But why should we all eat?

Master UM: To peform the best we can do here

Little Baba: What?

Master UM: Hummmmm....... prrrrrrrooot: FART

Anonymous said...

New Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic of UM: UM shall rest in peace

Today is a great day for UM's vision and mission, our dear Deputy Vice Chancellor academic has managed to remove without noise some top researchers and internationally renowned writers who were bringing UM name in top research community. The VC is a smiling lady who cares for a diabetes before all, and the DVC academe is running the show, silently behind the scene, .. secret agenda...hee, hee, hee..

Dear so called deputy vice chancellor academic, why are you continuing to satisfy the greed of brainless politicking loosers, why are you not keeping productive lecturers?. Everyone says, UM must go up, and exactly at the same time you are doing the opposite by removing the last brains.
What are you doing in UM mister DVC? what is your vision:" UM will be mine, I do not want to keep intellectuals, only .ss kissers, but I must please my friends, I crave for power, I MUST LOOK GOOD".
The DVC academic recently nominated is the type of individual who will sink UM faster. He dreams of climbing the stairs, but we know who you are. We wish you all the best in your work and we hope that you will reach your plan: to transform what was once a diamond of knowledge in a sekola kampung.