So apologies for the delay. I've taken the family back to kampung to visit the grandparents for the weekend. Anyway, I'm still back in Batu Pahat, but I thought I'd put in a quick word on Datuk Rafiah Salim's appointment.
Here's a brief on her profile, based on the little information I've gathered through the various news reports e.g., here and here.
Rafiah is currently executive director of the International Centre for Leadership in Finance and had served as lecturer, deputy dean and UM Law Faculty Dean.You can also read a glowing reference of her career to date, which was probably the citation given to her when she received her honourary doctorate from Queens Univesrsity, Belfast.
Born on May 13, 1947, Kelantan-born Rafiah made a career move in 1989 to become the head of Malayan Banking Berhad’s legal department. She was Bank Negara Malaysia’s assistant governor from 1995 to 1997 and United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management from 1997 to 2002.
Rafiah received her Bachelor and Master’s of Law degrees at the Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland. She obtained her certificate in legal practice in 1980 to become an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Malaya.
I'm in no position to make a fair assessment on the capabilities of Datuk Rafiah Salim, particularly on her suitability to be the vice-chancellor of Malaysia's premier university. As mentioned in an earlier post to the "mistaken" report by the New Straits Times which suggested that it was Dr Sharifah Hapsah was appointed, "I'm not one who will prejudge her appointment for I hope that she will be able to prove herself worthy of the position given to her."
However, it is interesting to note that the Ministry of Higher Education has not selected a candidate who have received his or her doctorate and has undergone the "full" academic experience. As commented by several readers and fellow bloggers, to a certain extent, this is contrary to the 9th Malaysia Plan's target of having at least 60% of the university lecturers being PhD holders.
It also appears that the criteria of administrative and management capabilities carried a tad more weight that the candidates academic credentials. Was it a case whereby the evaluation committee decided that UM required somebody to whip it into shape first before focusing on the academic aspects (after all, UM is beset with a whole host of non-academic issues as well) or that the management skills and achievements of Datuk Rafiah Salim well compensated the weakness in her academic credentials? As suggested by Kian Ming in one of his earlier post:
As a leader of a research university, one of the VC's most important tasks is to promote the growth of academic excellence in his or her university. Only a person who has had extensive experience within the academic setting would know how to effectively accomplish this objective.On a slight more positive note, it was revealed for the first that there is an "evaluation" committee set up to selected the vice-chancellor from a shortlist of 11 candidates. The committee comprised of the following individuals:
- Tan Sri Abdul Halim Ali (Chairman), Employees Provident Fund and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s board of directors chairman
- Tan Sri Syed Jalaluddin Syed Salim, former Universiti Putra Malaysia vice-chancellor
- Prof Tan Sri Abu Hassan Othman, former Universiti Malaysia Sabah vice-chancellor
- Tan Sri Azman Hashim, AmBank Group chairman
- Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Khoo Kay Kim, Universiti Malaya lecturer
Hence, my 2-cents advice for the Ministry of Higher Education to further improve the process of selection of vice-chancellors:
- Make permanent a search and evaluation process for the appointment of vice-chancellors (and their deputies) at our local public universities. There should be some form of permanence in the process to instil a culture of transparency and integrity.
- Enhance the independence and credibility of the "evaluation" committee to be a "search and evaluation" committee. Our local universities should follow the best practices of the world's best universities by advertising the vacancy in the position in the academia globally. Resumes should be collected and headhunters appointed to seek the best for our universities.
- The shortlisted candidates should then be evaluated by both the university and the selection committee (comprising of eminent academics) before the best is chosen.
Irrespective, we wish Datuk Rafiah Salim all the best in attempting to return Universiti Malaya to its former glory.