Thursday, September 28, 2006

Academic Jokes

Professor Lim Teck Ghee, a prominent academic and economic policy advisor with the Centre for Public Policy Studies revealed during the New Economic Policy forum held recently that by using market values to determine the proportion of wealth of bumiputeras in stocks listed on Bursa Malaysia, one will arrive at the figure of 45%. Official government figures on bumiputera share of the listed companies is at 18.9%, which is little changed for the past 15 years. However the government's numbers are based on the par value of stocks. (That's akin to saying a RM1 par value Tenaga Nasional stock with a market value of RM10.10 is equivalent to RM1 par value of Hwa Tai stock with a market value of RM0.66)

Malaysiakini has also reported on Dr Lim's study here and here. Cheekily, the Malaysiakini journalists sought and obtained feedbacks from some of the academics in local universities on the above findings.

Prof Dato' Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia:
“I am very sceptical about the study which has been carried out by a particular race. They (the race) usually have their own agendas,” said Shamsul. According to him, the study did not contain accurate facts.

“So I want to know who conducted the study? When was it done and which angle they (the researchers) were looking at? What is the motive behind the study? Is the research for the public or for participants at a certain forum?” he asked when contacted yesterday.
Is that an academic reply? Or is that an UMNO politician's reply worthy of the Bung Mokthar Radins and Noh Omars? What has the race of the researcher, if the research is credible, got to with it? So, only bumiputeras can research on the equity ownership of bumiputeras in Bursa Malaysia?

Dato' Shamsul Amri Baharuddin is a Professor of Social Anthropology, and currently Director of both the Institute of the Malay World and Civilization (ATMA), and the newly established Institute of Occidental Studies (IKON) at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. What worries me is that this is the same joker who has been given the task and responsibility (after many confusing U-turns by the Government) of compiling and editing the new ethnic relations guidebook since the controversial one was published by one of his peers.

Is this Prof Dato' Dr Shamsul even academically mature and qualified enough to perform such tasks when he had the cheek to ask such obviously unacademic questions?

[Update: Note that Dr Shamsul has written to Malaysiakini subsequently to state that the remarks made were taken very much out of context and was not specifically referring to the Dr Lim's report. His explanation is blogged by Kian Ming here, and published by Malaysiakini here. If the original Malaysiakini report which this post is based on, is indeed a misrepresentation of what Dr Shamsul offered, I'd extend my unreserved apologies here.]

Lecturer Judhiana Abdul Ghani of Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM):
She said many people would disbelieve the report because the distribution of wealth is not comprehensive.

“On the overall, the (30 percent) bumiputera equity ownership may have been achieved with the inclusion of GLCs (government-linked companies) but it is only focused on a small group while the rest of the community does not enjoy it. Actually what’s most important is to let more bumiputeras acquire that said equity,” she said.

Huh? So has the 45% target achievement of equity by bumiputeras in Bursa Malaysia been achieved or not? I've read the sentences a couple of times and it appears that she can't make up her mind on whether the report will be "disbelieved" or that the target "may have been achieved".

The question isn't whether the setting of such targets is relevant, but whether the target set by the Government based on the Government's valid or misguided definitions have been achieved or even exceeded.

Prof Lim wasn't disputing the fact that the 30% target for equity in Bursa Malaysia is irrelevant or at best, a poor gauge of wealth distribution, both inter-ethnic or intra-ethnic groups in Malaysia. He's just saying that based on realistic calculations, the 30% equity ownership target as set by the Government in its New Economic Policy has long been achieved and exceeded.

Prof Lim may very well be wrong in his calculations, and it won't be a first time for academics to make calculation errors. But if that is the case, then demonstrate one's logical, analytical and numerical skills to disprove the earlier findings. Please do not embarrass the Malaysian academia by spouting irrational, racially-biased and emotive barbs or convoluted and unfocused arguments. Other more competent academics at UKM and UPM must have been shrivelling in embarrassment and disgust.

Gosh, I'd probably flunk my politics and economics papers had I gotten the privilege of being under their tutelage. I just cannot imagine myself achieving their standards.


Kian Ming said...

I had to do a double take when I read Dr. Shamsul AB's response. Discrediting a study from the onset based on the ethnicity of the authors of the study? I'm sure that Dr. Shamsul didn't even read full contents of the ASLI report and examined the facts before jumping to his assertions. If the journalist had misquoted Dr. Shamsul or quoted him out of contest, I hope that Dr. Shamsul will issue a clarification statement.

I'm glad that Dr. Terence Gomez issued a quick clarification letter all the way from Switzerland that appeared in Malaysiakini today. Hopefully, Dr. Shamsul can be as quick and efficient in doing the same.

Tony is absolutely right by saying that these statements are not worthy of academics.

Imagine how Dr. Shamsul would feel if we were to debunk the Ethnic Relations course which he is in charge of designing and (re)introducing to the public universities based on the ethnicity of the authors of the course. I wouldn't think that would go done too well in UKM.

Lrong Lim said...

Haven't heard of the UPM lecturer (what gibberish is she mumbling about, anyway?) before but Dr. Shamsul is supposed to be one of the 'best known and respected' Malay scholars... but his talking about race and all that... this is no way for a so-called academician to respond to an academic issue...

Anonymous said...

I've done a bit of background check on Tony Pua. Apart from obtaining a non-popular qualification from Oxford (anyone can buy into repudatable university nowadays with a little luck, connection and money), he runs a money-losing small company (Cyber Village)!!! He has no idea how business works and obviously an academic amateur who sadly hanging on to an outdated internet-bubble joke. Tony's company are getting rat-size new contracts and these are drying up soon. No wonder he has so much time to start a mis-informative Blog on Education Malaysia. And he has the gut in his previous blog to say that he received substandard CVs from potential applications. Obviously lousy company begets lousy applicants. His main criteria are good As from GCE O or A level - maybe in his own failed message. Tony probably doesn't understand there is no direct correlation between academic and business success. I have seen unemployed Cambridge/Oxford everywhere. Maybe Tony is joining the rank soon. On the other hand, I just can't stop noticing Tony's lack of analysis capability, I have a PhD and just can't stop laughing inside in view of the shallow opinions and analysis given by Tony Pua. On the other hand, I feel sad for those Malaysians on this Blog as they keep on falling into the trap set by a self-proclaim bogus acedemia guru. I would propose to Tony to start a Blog to talk about his company failure and how MESDAQ should have been run better so that his company shouldn't have been listed in the first place.

Anonymous said...

To fake "real academia (with PhD)":

I am a chinese, with PhD as well in engineering, I find this blog resourceful and insightful, and fully support tony to continue his good works.

I strongly suspect you have a PhD judging by the way you expressed your opinions (cowardly), maybe you can publish your contact details and profession, so we can have more transparent and constructive criticisms.

Anonymous said...

There are a number of bloggers with PhDs here. So do not think by you claiming your statement having a PhD makes you superior or more superior than Tony Pua or others.

Most of us came here and appreciate Toby's b;og not because of his Oxford or Cambridge background or by his success or failure of his company.
We are not fools who easily falls for Tony's jokes.
We got brains to read and analyze irrespective who Toby is or what he writes.
We judge and not prejudge Tony. We make our own conclusions, and though at times I might disagree with a few of Tony's comments but I respect that and also with other bloggers comment.
I can see Tony is smart or at least much smarter that Anon above who comment about Tony
Keep the good work tony! You know there are many "pseudo intellectuals like the above here"
He has his own agenda....
Maybe he is one who gets promoted or enjoying the blessings of some politicians or political parties....which explains his motive

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Tony Pua might be a failu re but that does not mean he is not entitled to an opinion. After all, we all learn from everyone's experiences and thoughts in making ourselves better people (sounds idealistic, but i honestly think we all strive for that).

I've seen his previous blog comments and while some of them seem a bit harsh/dodgy, some of them are also quite valid.

That (not that i'm siding anyone) would be better than sitting back and pretending that everything is all right and not willing to comment on what is wrong right now, and how to improve it (i've been guilty of keeping mum many times as well, but again that does not mean i can't express my opinions in this matter).

So, i sincerely wish his company's luck in his future projects (even if fail, just start again man! it's all about trying and channelling your passions! Luck will always reward perseverance)

And to this PhD guy, i must admit my admiration of anyone getting that qualification. Even my dad was gasping for air when he finished his PhD in engineering, the feat only exceeded by his passion of knowledge. I've always seen PhDs as someone who encourages continual learning and passion for research ad improvement..which is why your actions to immediately ridicule Tony's company and opinions (again not siding him, just my thoughts) is somewhat unacceptable. Just do it privately (if can), or just dont use such defamatory sentences. Sorry for the long entry, just my opinions. I May be wrong

P.S - while i'm doing my entry, i found heaps of entries commenting PhD's entries. Wouldn't say i'm in right direction, but have a good feeling that my reasoning is valid.

Anonymous said...

A PhD is not the end of things! It is not in fact make you more intelligent or an expert in the field.

I have known many PhD holders who after obtaining their PhDs long ago either:
1) Forgotten their PhD subject
2) Changes to study new topic which were far from the orinial PhD topic they did.

In fact I know very well one PhD who finds more use of his thick PhD thesis to be his pillow when he rests in his lab. This is true.

There was even one eminent professor overseas who uses the thick PHD thesis for cushion on his chair!

It is just an exercise in the search for knowledge. In fact the completion of PhD is just the beginning.

It is most important not to regard having a PhD as license to " belittle" or look down on other people who have no PhDs. At present scenario, the benchmark of PhD generated by local universities have fallen. Most of the assessors for the locally generated PhDs are not world authorities,
So it is important, if you are in this category, be humble. As the Malays themselves put it..All Phd or genuine quality PhDs should be like the padi. The more knowledge you have, the more lower you bent or stooped caused you realize the journey in acquiring knowledge never ends,

Tony P and Kian Ming have done a freat service to the public. Their blogs have allowed people to channel their frustrations and views to the public. Let the public decide what they want.

Do not degrade him for his poor performance in his company. At least he tried and I respect him immensely. He struugle on hos own. His success or failures are his. Do you think you can prove yourself as good as him? or even 0.00001% of his efforts? I doubt it. You only reflect your very own inadequacies.
Learn to be humble!

Anonymous said...

I believe that readers of this blog are wise enough to make up their own minds and think critically what being posted by Tony. I am a Malay and I never feel humilated by reading this blog (I have been reading it for almost a year). I might not agree with everything he wrote but each posting is insightful to certain extent. I have not met Tony in person although I live in Batu Pahat but I believe he is a wonderful person...don't simply judge people. I am ashamed to read such comment from the 'real academia (with PhD)'...a PhD holder should act like one...

Anonymous said...

inspired says..

To that particular rude person who simply criticise and don’t appreciate Tony’s work on his wonderful education blogg here, we hope you get lost and don't ever login & appear again on this blogg.. because nobody cares what you say as you are nothing but just very jealous of Tony's intelligence and success.

Anonymous said...

Tony P and Kian Ming...our true malaysian heroes!

Your enemies are not Malays or Chinese but Injustice, Unfairness, Bigotries, Cloistered minds, Blinkered Views.

Your friends are truth, wisdom and justice
Keep up the good work! We support you both!

Anonymous said...


You have just insulted yourself, your academia, the university which awarded your PhD!

Shame! Shame! Shame!
Go away! You are not welcomed here!

Unknown said...

Hi guys,

Thank you very much for all the comments both in support and in criticism :) I've received emails to tell me to delete that "offending" post above, but I thought I should just leave it be. After all, the supposed "real academia (with PhD)" have as strong analytical skills as Prof Shamsul above. :) And when I put myself in public like on this blog, I'll take whatever that gets dished out at me, even if it is from anonymous parties who doesn't have the courage to put their names down.

This blog isn't about my company so I wouldn't comment too much about it here. However, I'll say this to concerned readers out there, that as per all businesses big and small, listed or otherwise, there are going to be good years and there are going to be bad years, especially in the early years of growth. Hence "failure" is pretty much a relative term, and making losses in certain years definitely isn't a "failure".

And for those interested, we are having a decent year this year so far with hopefully better things to come. Certainly not shrivelling contracts :)

;p Tony P

Anonymous said...

To Real Academia (with PhD)

Agree, you really got Permanet Head Damage (PhD). Tony's background has got nothing to do with the topic here. I suggest you start a blog talking about how you got PHD, the art of being a coward, the art of spinning, how to talk cheap, and stuffs like that. Judging from your comment, those will be the fields of your expertise!

Anonymous said...

...The Phd must be from....Universiti Pariah Malaysia.......I'm rude and illiterate, bite me.......

Anonymous said...

To "Real Academia (with PhD)",

For somebody who writes badly with amateurish mistakes, it makes me wonder where you got your doctorate from. Rather, from your personal attacks on Tony, you actually sound suspiciously like the Shamsul guy masquerading as a Professor.

Pray tell us, which university gave you your PhD so that I may buy one too with "a little luck", your "connection" and some "money" (which I earned fairly without a PhD and certainly with no patronage nor assistance from affirmative discrimination). On the other hand, maybe not; I would be too ashamed to be associated with you.

Maybe if and when YOUR company turns in some decent profit without sponsored crutches, I would be most willing to learn a thing or two from you, with or without a PhD.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tony. GO BATU PAHAT! Our hometown is getting bigger and bigger eh? What with Carefour and BP Mall coming up soon. And good job on your blog here. It's one of my daily blog must-reads.

And to that so called PHD holder above, did you get your PHD locally perharps?

Anonymous said...


It does sounds like that Samsul guy! Maybe he got a huge chip on his tiny shoulder and that he got lots of axes to grind!

One thing...he sure got a lot of superficial ego and pompous pride by the way he " shouted" to the world he is from Academia with real PhD..As if he is trying to say others here have no PhDs or fraud PhD. What a laugh!

I really pity the students he teach...

This guy is so myopic and suffering the " megalomaniac syndrome" but best of all I am sure he is a genuine case of frog under coconut shell. A petit bougouise

Frankly I think his anger stemmed from his cranial dysfunctional syndrome. He really got serious attitude problems. So pathetic! A case of sour grapes

Anonymous said...

A contrarian view: Perhaps the gentleman/lady commentator was writing in jest? As pointed out by Tony and "spm graduate", the entry reads just like the comments of the distinguished Professor Dato Doctor (which is it?) of UKM.

I could see myself writing it had I been a comic trying to spoof the Professor Dato Doctor (seriously, choose one would ya?). Granted, I would tone down the personal attack a tad. But as Tony acknowledged, writing a popular blog like this means he'll have to take some bashing at times.

Anonymous said...

To all the Degree, Master, PhD holders in Malaysia : How many of you really had published some commentable academic papers.

I have seen some PhD holder of IT confuse warehouse management system with Data Warehousing

You all are laughing stocks , the only thing you all have is using your working hours to blog

Anonymous said...

Anyone with commonsense will know that the bumiputras have more than 30% of our country's wealth. You don't need a PhD to know that.

Almost all big businesses are controlled by the government and Malays, and UMNOputras certainly have their hands full of the wealth there.

The UMNO-led government is very smart and not prepared to be transparent and accountable. It encourages the use of nominees.

This is the strategy for UMNOputras to squeeze the nation and to sapu as much wealth as possible for selected individuals - the rich becomes filthy richer. Poor and unprivileged Malays largely benefit a little bit under NEP.

The nation has been conned and nonbumiputras remain as the bogeyman.

OU said...

To the "real academia (with PhD)",

Have you managed to dispute any content or the argument put forward in this blog?

Most would appreciate your training and experience with a PhD qualification if you are able to dispute the fact or contribute to the discussion in the blog.

Instead, you are using ad hominem and you are not worthy of the PhD you claimed. You're a case of permanent head damage.

Anonymous said...

Tony and Kian Ming, just keep your good work. Can't you just delete comments that are nonsensical (e.g. real academia (with PhD) who doesn't even know that PPE is one of the best course in Oxford)? Anyway, both of you are intelligent not to fall for "trap".

Back to the real issue, the responses have been rather inappropriate or maybe misrepresented. BTW, the method of calculation has always been disputed (for example, do you include the Government-linked companies such as Tenaga, Telekom and Maybank as bumiputra-controlled?). However, I seriously doubt the Government will use par value to calculate the value. As a certified accountant, I find it rather inconceivable to use par value as market value.

Kian Ming said...

Actually, "Real Academia (with PhD)" doesn't sound like Dr. Shamsul at all. If heard Dr. Shamsul speak at various occasions and he's an extremely articulate, witty and insightful scholar. He's published many well-respected works on the Malay community and he still continues to do some decent work in the academic community. Unfortunately, he seemed to have put on a different hat when he made those reported remarks. I still have a lot of respect for his work but his recent remarks have led me to think about his own racial 'motivations'. We'll have to keep a close eye on the Ethnic Relations Module that will be re-introduced in public universities soon since he's the main person in charge of the course design.

Unknown said...

To Anon Fri Sep 29, 08:13:01 PM

The government does indeed calculate the distribution of wealth by ethnic groups based on par values of limited companies.

You can obtain a copy of the stats from the 9th Malaysia Plan, page 336, Table 16-6. The title of the table is "Ownership of Share Capital (At Par Value) of Limited Companies, 2000 and 2004. For both years, the equity ownership is unchanged at 18.9%.

You can obtain the links for download here.
Tony P

Anonymous said...

Having read Dr. Shamsul's latest reply, I'd like to eat crow and apologize to the professor for putting him on par with joker-in-RA(wPhD).

Sally said...

Well, actually I think Dr Syamsul has a valid reason to be concerned about the motivations of Dr Lim. In published papers, researchers usually have to disclose any financial or other interests in the work done. I don't know Dr Syamsul or Dr Lim, and I am a Chinese, but you cannot deny that Dr Lim will have his own biases, as does Dr Syamsul with his ethnicity book. This doesn't mean that I agree with Dr Syamsul. Did anyone review Dr Lim's work?

Anonymous said...

Accepting Prof. Shamsul's reply and explanation and giving him benefit of the doubt, I would also like to tender my apologies for dragging him into my comments about Real Academia (with PhD).

However, like what Kian Ming said, we would like now, to watch his Ethnic Relations module with renewed interest.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tony,

If it is any help at all, just another supporting note for all the good work you have done here.

What we want is for everyone to concentrate on the issues at hand and not degenerate into personal attacks. Incidentally, the claim of rank and educational background does not make the postings any more sensible if they are not.

Anyone who has been an academic will tell you that a PhD degree means that at best you have learnt to carry out independent research, at worst you have just done donkey work for your supervisor. So it is no big deal.

Richard G.

Anonymous said...

I can't understand why bumiputera equity in public listed company is 18.8%, it is a well know fact that all public listed company in KLSE must allocate 30% of it's share to Bumiputera before the compnay is listed.