Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tony's points highlighted in parliament

Hot off the press - in today's Star, it was reported that MCA parliamentarian Dr. Wee Ka Siong (Ayer Hitam - Johor) raised the issue of how Malaysian public universities were wasting public dollars by participating in meaningless international trade fairs to 'exhibit' their so called 'technological innovations' and products. I've met Dr. Wee before in a wedding in Johor (before he became an MP) when I was just starting out as a political analyst (so happened that I was seated next to him in a totally random seat allocation) and I've followed his career closely ever since. He generally makes good points in regards to educational issues and kudos to him for raising this point in regards to these 'dubious' international trade fairs. But if he or any of his staff had been reading this blog, he would have realized that Tony brought up this very point as early as 2005.

Tony first critized our public universities for publishing their 'achievements' in the form of gold, silver and bronze medals won at these international exhibitions in November 2005 and subsequently followed up this post in April and Dec 2006. I think he got so sick of it that he stopped blogging about it.

I think bloggers have been taking a bad beating in some newspapers of late but the points highlighted by Dr. Wee illustrate the importance of blogs such as this one. We have an electronic trail which can be traced so that we can go back in time to see when these issues were first highlighted. It can be a useful tool for policy makers, journalists as well as researchers who are interested in educational issues in Malaysia to peruse.

Hopefully this kind of press will put a stop to our taxpayers money being spent or more specifically wasted at these international trade fairs. Kudos to Tony for first highlighting this!


Anonymous said...

It's good to see someone from somewhat 'muted' party raising up the points regarding the 'medal buying exhibition' in parliament. He's definitely an exellent choice for the party president post to succeed the incompetent incumbent top gun OKT.

Anonymous said...

oops sorry not in parliment but the press. My mistake...

Anonymous said...

Who to blame for this? I think the problem first start from the government, who pays peanuts and thus get monkeys to teach at our public universities. when those monkeys can't compete with foreign universities by publishing good academic journal papers, this is the short cut to console themselves.

Anonymous said...

kudos TP

thanks OKM for the good news.

Anonymous said...

As a Malaysian who has been so proud to be totally trained locally up to Ph.D. level and now living overseas for 4 years now, I can tell you all how utterly disgusted and embarassed I am to claim myself as a Malaysian after all this idiotic exercise. Tok Pa and his team should be sacked for continuing to ignore this public wastages after so long.

Just check on our local varsities' websites on awards and recognitions- you'll know what I mean...

Why all the obssession about making us the laughing stock for everyone else in the world to see?
Are we suffering from a form of psychological self-mutilation?

NATIONAL DISGRACE..I think Sdr Lim Kit Siang and DSAI must speak on this!

Anonymous said...

So that's why we are waiting anxiously for Tony to be the next Yang Berhormat. We need some quality please.

And Kian Ming, waiting for your turn. When are you coming back from the States man? More quality in parliament please.

Anonymous said...

Look at some of our younger and older politicians, so-called "educated" leaders performed in parliament. Do they display strong moral character? Do they give us the impression that they are civil and decent who speak through their conscience on matters of national importance? When our local top politicians send their children overseas for an early education, only show how confident they are towards our own local education system.

Anonymous said...

Part of the millions of ringgit squandered in these overseas exhibition comes from the 30sen per litre hike in petrol price since early 2006. So remember--when monkeys are elected to power, the monkeys will make donkeys out of the people who elected them.

H said...

Well yes, It’s not a ‘nobel prize’ medal. But, I think it’s a great way to commercialize our product, taking into account the reluctance of Malaysian company to mass produce these universities findings.
For those who don’t understand whats the exhibition really is…
Please download read from the pdf documents below

“A survey of the participants of the last exhibition revealed that licences were negotiated for the sale, manufacture, distribution or marketing of more than 45% of the novelties shown. The business value of these contracts exceeded 30 million US$.”

Anonymous said...


Just tell me how many percent of the 'inventions' really end up on the market?

Give me real facts!

How many millions or billions we made out of the inventions?

Stop pipe dreaming!

Anonymous said...

Hi, when I quickly browsed through the headlines this morning before to work, I said to myself "This looks familiar. Somebody here thinks alike, but then I was wondering how they would response to this embezzlement of funds for some showpiece and to make themselves look good."
Wondered if Tony's earlier posts about this grab the headlines, they would have an arsenal of retorts to shoot him down? Hahaha!
No way, no way. Tony is all armed to shoot back. Hahaha.

Anonymous said...

Mere marketing...friends.

Do you guys know that:

1) Out of 1000 inventions, 45% of the inventions exhibited were the object of negotiations worth over 30 million US Dollars.

2) All negotiable inventions were negotiated but not necessarily had the deal closed.

Yes, it is not a lie more than US$30 millions worth of business negotiated. However, does it mean deal closed? Yes, we had negotiated the deal... but no one wants to buy... sad!

Anonymous said...


I try googling for more information.

Try this link


Meng said...

Maybe he had read the blog....oh yes, according to Nazri, only opposition people read blogs.

Anonymous said...

If you really have great inventions, you don't have to attend this kind of exhibition, bcos eveyone knows that this is just a fake show for the dubious academics to console each other and scratch each other's back. What you need to do is to file an international patent and publish your finding in a good journal. Someone will finally come to commericalise your invention if it is really good. You need to wake up, especially UNMO and the Malays! Stop this stupid act and don't further disgrace the name 'Malaysia'!!!! Look at the state of UiTM, one of the worst univeristies in the world, and a malay-only university, then you know what I mean!! To build up your reputation, you need real hard work, no short cut!!!

H said...

Anon above,
I just wanna share some facts regarding this issue.
Quote from you "everyone knows that this is just a fake show for the dubious academics to console each other and scratch each other's back">>>Tell me, is this a fact?
And why everything has to be blame on UMNO and Malay? Oh my. What have you done to contribute to our nation? Wake up my fren!

Anonymous said...

I agree with hafiz we should not blame malays? they did not asked for this.

I'm not very sure of the standards of the awards, but will it really help the university commercialise their products? I guess they didn't really get any products commercialised since there was no news about it.

hafiz, perhaps you think it is a good platform to market the products, but whether it really worth that kind of investment is another question. However, some universities made connections that those awards represents superiority in its education standards has over-done it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Hafiz,

I'm sure it's hard for you that you see many posts here talking about how horrible UMNO or the Malays build the nation. This would be the case especially if you are the rare ones who really worked hard for the betterment of the nation. I do admit there are many great Malays out there and many respected ones too. Even the often criticized Dr. Mahathir has contributed a lot to nation building and bringing us to where we are today.

However, sometimes as much as many Chinese won't see your frustration with all these sweeping statements, it's also tough for you to understand the frustration of non-bumis who suffered from the so called affirmative actions in Malaysia. Could you imagine if you're often sidelined from any privileages with the excuse that you are rich even when you're from a middle class family and then see your friends of other races who drives BMW get them?

Alright, I will also have to admit here that Bumis are not the only ones guilty of corruptions and incompetencies. There are some high profile cases of corruptions involving non-Bumis too. And yes, MCA and MIC has their part to play in nation building too; even the opposition parties.

I realize that most topics in this blog will slowly evolve into a racial topic no matter how it begins. It really shows the sentiments of non-Bumis in this country and maybe it's above time something is being done.

Finally about you mentioning if it is a fact that everyone knows about those fake shows. I believe many people do not. Frankly I really believed it was genuine until I read Tony's blog and did some further researches. However, my opinion is that academics should at least be more aware about all these since it's within their industry and they should have gotten feedback from their peers if it has been a practice for as far as 15 years.

Anonymous said...

Maybe public universities should show some proof of their commercialized products by displaying on its website all the R&D that has been done and what are the products ready for commercialization. With this, any venture capitals can easily access to understand more about it and decide if they would like to fund any of the projects, generating income for the university too.

From my understanding, APIIT has some research which they display information on their website. I dare not confirm this but I heard that some of these products are commercialized in Europe.


If private colleges can do this, public universities too should publicize their successfully commercialized products to proof the relevance of their courses to the industry. This may be more important than having medals to show.

Anonymous said...

Invention and Innovation competitions are not new to this region. In a letter to The Star in 2005 (24 July), I had referred to the example of the Asian Innovation Awards instituted by the Far Eastern Economic Revue. In 1998, an award went to a laboratory in a neighbouring country for advancement in oil palm breeding. The award citation read: “One of their main achievements is combining the best of male and female fruits. The trick lies in crossbreeding the two (dura and pisifera varieties) so that the resulting fruit has a thin kernel and rich fruit content. That’s the hybrid, tenera”. Unfortunately, no one told the judges that the science behind the tenera hybrid had been discovered in the late 1930s. Far from being a new discovery, practically all oil palms under commercial cultivation were already the tenera hybrid. I noted in my letter that judges of invention competitions did not always have the background to judge technical inventions competently. It was true then as it is today. Academics should bear in mind that success in invention competitions cannot substitute for publication of their research in reputable journals.

Anonymous said...

Hafiz, 'everyone knows that this is just a fake show for the dubious academics to console each other and scratch each other's back', the 'everyone' excludes those are still reluctant to wake up to the reality and under the protection of the corrupt regime - UMNO. What have I contributed to this country? A lot, one of the most important responsibilities is to wake up malays like you to the real world before the country sinks further and to accept that fact that our PM is corrupted, thus it's time to give opposition to rule the country. BN's endless blunders, people suffer!!!

Anonymous said...

I personally think those innovations are better than the APPIT ones. Just that it was made use of for the wrong purpose.

Anonymous said...

i mean, APIIT.

Who am I? said...

To the belivers of such exhibitions,

Why do you have to go to the other side of the world to market/show your products? Are you saying that the malaysian commercial and industrial sector is not entrepreneurial and opportunistic enough to take up some invention/innovation(s) that are worth USD $30 million (which is equivalent to over $100 million ringgit... and that's a lot of money!)

If so, given the government has been so desperate to increase the 'innovative-ness' of the local industry, why can't they at least do something about it by encouraging the bumiputera producers to produce it and export it to other places? Or are you assuming that the country could not produce such products given the constraints of technology? And above all, if the government can single handedly announce a RM 400 million deal to build something that is more of a white elephant, a couple of million dollars for an innovator to develop his ideas should be kacang putih to the warchest.

Hell, I will produce them myself if I can. If you can't market and sell your stuffs in our country of 24 million, then I think you have a serious problem man. If you can't sell it in a country of 24 million, then what makes you think that you can do darn well in a country of say, a couple of hundred million? Producers aren't dumb, and I don't think the participants would overlook the local producers if they are smart enough to innovate something that is considered a breakthrough. As matter of fact, people wouldn't even dare enough to have a trial-run in the country if everyone thinks it won't sell/work. And more to the logic still, if the
universities can consistently produce that many winners, why not make the prospective investors/industrialists come here?

Our country is currently saturated with lots of people who are willing to market anything that can sell (Amway, Lamp Berger, you name it). Marketing wise, that shouldnt be problem. So the issue is more of people not seeing the worth in the so called innovations. You can have alot of so called 'innovations' but still
that doesnt prove anything (remember the hat with a fan that would blow the hot noodles while you are eating them?).

The more questions I ask, the more dodgy it sounds to me.

coleong said...

To me, if the university is serious about marketing their innovative products, they should set up an office that deals specifically on patent issue and marketing. In most cases, the academician and researcher might be good in their field but inexperience in dealing with the legal aspect of marketing. For example, you can’t simply change a chemical structure from someone patented compound and claim it your own. You can spend lots of money on trying to make those compounds and yet it’s useless if it can’t be patented.

The quality of the research/product and documentation is another major weakness. In a lot of cases, when the researcher in the university claims to have discovered something new on the newspaper, it’s in fact a follow up work by someone’s discovery. The public media or at least the university should be more vigilant on this issue as it could cause legal action against such a falsified fact/hype.

If the university really wanted to focus on marketing their innovative products, they should be more selective in funding only the potential projects. A few successful products are better than many unwanted innovations.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tony and KM for bringing this up earlier on and for resurrecting the issue!

Looking at all the posts so far, I'm glad this discussion isn't heading the racial-economic debate.

Let's keep our heads clear and discuss the major fact that honestly, millions of our money have been wasted on those useless expos. Once those expos are proven to be dubious, we have actually given all those people (expo contingent) an all expenses' paid holiday.

I sincerely wonder if this will lead to corruption charges in embezzlement of public funds. Probably not as one can give all kinds of so-called valid excuses, just like what Hafiz did.

If only we have a shred of conscience in us, I think, we will have immediately stop this stupid exercise of self-glorification and pull down our so many IPTA websites on those awards and recognition.

I hope that in this year's survey, the Times Higher Education Supplement will highlight this issue and I will not be surprised if Malaysia drops out of the world university rankings. Frankly I hope so as it is a NATIONAL DISGRACE.

So, the earlier we admit that it was dubious, stop the practice and focus on getting international recognition from real peer reviewed publications instead of going to the press to announce thos so-called discoveries, the better.

We are now a laughing stock of the world.

Wake up, Malaysia! Let's not fool ourselves anymore.

Recognition comes from hard work, not from buying them.

I find it really encouraging that people like Coleong and Clayton dare to speak up.

Hafiz, you really have to front up with real facts and not just be cheated by those statements you find from the expo organizers.

As an overseas Malaysian scientist, I can tell you that for every single cent of money spent on research, all is accountable and vigorously scrutinized! One has to justify the outputs from the money spent- to the public.

It is sad, how in our country, people can get away with that , simply by using the media. Imagine the current culture of publishing everything in the newspaper first.

What has happened to our country?


Anonymous said...

If our universities can come out with an economical fuel alternative, I'd say that's really a breakthrough. Patent the formula and the process, publish that in technical journals, tones of investors will rushed to mass produce it for ya! Your university ranking will jump straight up!

Anonymous said...

Hafiz is behaving like the po;iticians in our country using terms like:

'..akan di kaji'
' akan di pertimbangkan..'
' akan di teliti'

All words meaning nothing concrete. As he said it..." contracts are being negotiated"

Hehe,,,guess Hafiz is a nincompoop or he think we bloggers here are real fools!!

Anonymous said...

If I am not mistaken one of the medal won is about the cane for the blind using sensor...

I thought this is old news and even have been made by some school students competition

This proves beyond doubt that UM status is as good as " Pantai High School"

Anonymous said...

Let's not turn this discussion into a Hafiz bashing session.

By the way, I remember some years back that there was this liquid that was sold in the market that claims to increase power of automobiles and improve petrol consumption of vehicles; all that needs to be done is to add a little of the liquid after each re-fueling. I remember vaguely that there's the Geneva Gold Medal on the bottle and said to be made in Malaysia.

Anyone with any idea of that or came accross something like that before? Did that product actually worked? If it did really work then I believe it's an invention to be proud of. But judging from the fact that I don't hear about it anymore, either the marketing is bad for it didn't work as claimed.

Anonymous said...

Did a google on it and found the product I was talking about on MATRADE website.


Sadly the company's website is no longer available though. Does that mean that they are already out of business?

H said...

Thx Clayton for being rational

Ive heard that there are innovations that had been commercialized, thats why I'd highlighted the "so called valid excuse by an Anon".

Quote from USM website...

source: http://www.usm.my/bm/pages/gen-view-all.asp?id=2752&idform=7

"Kejayaan Prof. Asma dalam mengkomersilkan kit-kit diagnosanya, yang kini 8 daripadanya telah pun dilesenkan kepada syarikat tempatan untuk dipasarkan manakala dua lagi yang memenangi pingat perak di Geneva baru-baru ini iaitu EZCampy DNA dan EZ Typhi Carrier DNA dalam proses rundingan.
"Semasa di Geneva terdapat beberapa syarikat deari luar negara memohon untuk menjadi pengedar pengedar di luar negara yang menunjukkan kemampuan produk penyelidikan tempatan untuk dipasarkan di peringkat antarabangsa,” kata Prof. Asma.
Menurut Prof. Asma lagi, USM berupaya untuk menerokai pasaran dunia melalui penyertaan dalam pameran-pameran seperti di Geneva ini kerana adanya usaha yang teliti terutamanya dengan membimbing para penyelidik tentang teknik-teknik untuk berhadapan dengan bakal pelabur dan komuniti perniagaan."

However I agree that the amount of medals won in the exhibition is not an indicator of research success. I just wanna emphasize that, Geneva is an exhibition and not a 'nobel prize award'.

And please take note that I'm not affiliated with UMNO, BN, politician or anything every Anon here try to suggest. Stop generalizing people my frens.

H said...

URL for the EZDNA Id mentioned above

Other recent USM innovation that had been commercialized via Geneva participation

Brugia Filarial Detection Kit

Multimedia Conferencing System

Other products from our local public uni R&D

Anonymous said...

Hafiz, my point is, to some extent, if the intention of attending this kind of expo is to really commmercialise your invention, I have no objection that tax payers' money being spent on it. But since it's too easy to 'win' these medals, it's should not be used as a platform by academics to replace journal publications. I believe many local academics have misused this expo to create fake imporession of academic excellence.

H said...

I understood your point LOL
and its not my invention LOL

R&D and commercialized innovations from UPM

Anonymous said...

Obviously, apart from misrepresenting these medals from trade exhibitions as achievements and trying to pass them off as academic brilliance, these trips to those fairs are also paid holidays for those involved.

We have became a society with little shame and even less self-esteem, seeking every opportunity to hoodwink our fellow countrymen.

I congratulate Hafiz for standing firm in light of the bashing he is getting - I am sure, however, that it is not personal and is directed more at the section of the populace he represents, ie, the gullible; and please dont forget that the gullibles now come in all races.

Over the years, long before this blog, I have never believed that those medals amount to anything, although only now do I realise the extent of the deception.

I have often peered into the faces of those medal "winners" published in the papers and wondered how they could live a lie, one that stays with them for life. I was always looking for signs of squirming from embarassment, but detect none - perhaps those "winners" were actually proud of their "achievements". Scary.

Anonymous said...

"these winners have too thick a skin, and too dumb to know the truth...hehe

Ignorance is a bliss!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Why is this conversation degrading into racial attacks? Ridiculous. Comments like "one of the weaknesses of Malays is not willing to be criticised" have no place on a blog about education in Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

To anon above;

All the blogs here will ultimately end up as 'racial bashing' sessions.

All roads finally lead to Rome!

Malays bash Chinese!
Chinese bash Malays!
Samy Vellu look and laugh!

Anonymous said...

How come ALL of these marvellous prize-winning engineering inventions and discoveries FAIL to make the list of innovations CONSIDERED for the annual Nobel Prizes for Physics, Chemistry and Medicine? This alone show that these products are unworkable cheapskates

Amir Dina said...

do you know what nobel prize is?

The exhibition medals that has been touted by the unis is creative innovation that translates into commercial product.

Where as nobel prize, is an invention and discovery that is considered important and effect a lot of ppl or generate further inventions.

Anonymous said...

The "mamak" who created "roti canai" variants such as "roti john" could win the exhibition medals for his creation and innovation in the food industries, if he is given the chance present it there lah. I think that's what that exhibition is for - to market your creativity and turn it into profitability. Only if our academias know what that exhibition is for, there wouldn't be so much of an issue.