Wednesday, January 11, 2006

UTM vs Minister of Higher Education

As blogged earlier, the vice-chancellor of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Datuk Dr Mohd Zulkifli Ghazali has not had his contract renewed for another term by the Minister of Higher Education (MOHE), Datuk Dr Shafie Salleh, who appears to be flexing his muscles.

However, it appears that the university itself is not giving in to the wishes of the Minister without a "fight". As reported here and here by the New Straits Times on Friday and Saturday last week, more than 30,000 students, lecturers and staff of UTM are apparently planning to submit an appeal to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, "to extend the contract of the varsity’s former vice-chancellor". The representatives from UTM’s two campuses in Johor Baru and Kuala Lumpur hope to submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister’s office earlier this Monday.

The Higher Education Ministry, which appoints vice-chancellors of public universities, has not announced a successor or an acting V-C.
UTM Student Council president Saiful Islam Mat said 26,000 students from the Johor Baru campus and some 3,000 more from the Kuala Lumpur campus had signed a petition to re-instate Zulkifli until his retirement in 2007.

Five presidents of UTM staff associations have also endorsed the memorandum. They are claiming that Shafie had acted unprofessionally in leaving the university without a leader by not naming a successor or an acting V-C.
It is unfortunate that our universities appears to be governed by moods and sentiments, instead of professional integrity. It has been widely alluded and reported that "Zulkifli’s contract was not renewed due to his difficult relationship with Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Shafie Mohd Salleh."

If the contract with the former vice-chancellor was not renewed due to issues of competency and performance, the non-renewal will be perfectly valid and justified. However, if it's an issue of personality and whims, then the non-renewal is disgraceful.

As it is, UTM is without a vice-chancellor or acting vice-chancellor and no timeline has been given as to when such appointments will be made. From the experience of the method in which the new vice-chancellor was appointed at Universiti Putra Malaysia, it doesn't give us much faith that the new vice-chancellor for UTM will be selected based on openness, transparency, merit and credibility.

Datuk Dr Shafie Salleh, please prove me wrong.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

By right, those leading the education ministries shouldnt have link with politics arent they? Like Musa during Dr Mahathir's reign. Dr Mahathir did mentioned before that Ministry of Education must be free from any political power to ensure neutrality. Is this practice still on?