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Mustapha should table in
Parliament next week a Memorandum on Higher Education Ministry response to
the 138 Zahid Higher Education Report recommendations to create a
world-class university system in Malaysia
by Lim Kit Siang
I had commended Mustapha in Parliament on Thursday for tabling the Zahid Higher Education Report (Bahasa Malaysia) and promising that the English version of the Report would be distributed to MPs next week.
Mustapha should seriously consider my suggestion to him during question time in Parliament on Thursday on adopting the international best practice of good governance of accompanying the English version of the Zahid Higher Education Report with a memorandum of the stand of his Ministry on the Zahid Report and its 138 recommendations.
The 11-men Zahid Higher Education Committee was established by the former Higher Education Minister, Datuk Dr. Shafie Salleh, on 17th January 2005 with the commission to submits its report with six -month, a deadline it met when it submitted its report on 18th July 2005.
It is scandalous and outrageous if the Higher Education Ministry requires an even longer period than six months to study the Zahid Report to come out with a preliminary memorandum of its stand on the Zahid Higher Education Report.
It is now ten months since the submission of the Zahid Report last July. Does the Higher Education Ministry require one, two or three years before it could present to Parliament a memorandum on its preliminary position on the Zahid Higher Education Report?
If so, then there is an urgent need for a special commission to study and submit a report within three months as to how to reform the Higher Education Ministry to ensure that it could be a role model for all universities in terms of competence, professionalism and high performance.
Parliament adjourns on May 11 and if the Higher Education Ministry is incapable in the next 12 days to table a memorandum on its preliminary position on the Zahid Report which it had received for 10 months, and which had taken six months to write, something is very wrong with the Higher Education Ministry – warranting an urgent and far-reaching revamp of the Higher Education Ministry.
I am glad to see that a number of the Zahid Report recommendations are in accordance with the principles of academic freedom and excellence which I had consistently advocated for the reform of universities, although there are obvious defects and weaknesses in the Zahid Report.
The biggest blemish of the 138 Zahid Report recommendations is the total absence of any reference to the most important factors which had caused the shriveling and stifling of academic freedom and excellence in the nation’s universities, causing the nation’s premier university to plunge 80 places in international ranking from 89th to 169th position in the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) World Universities Ranking 2005 – the chilling effect of the Universities and University Colleges Act, the Statutory Bodies Act and the Aku Janji requirements.
Some of the recommendations to restore academic excellence in the public universities proposed by the Zahid Report are long overdue, including:
6 - the Higher Education Minister should devolve his powers to the University Board of Directors to be the effective guardian of authority based on the principles of autonomy, academic excellence and accountability [Menteri Pengajian Tinggi menurunkuan kuasa-nya kepada Lembaga Pengarah Universiti untuk berperanan sebagai pengawal autonomi (guardian of autonomy) dengan lebih berkesan berasaskan prinsip-prinsip autonomi, kecemerlangan akademik dan akauntabiliti.]
7 – All policy and management responsibilities to be borne by the University Board of Directors (semua dasar dan tadbir urus universiti dipertanggungjawabkan kepada Lembaga Pengarah Universiti.)
8 – Kuasa Lembaga Pengarah Universiti diperluaskan untuk membolehkannya beroperasi sebagai pengawal autonomi (guardian of autonomy) universiti.
9 – Di samping Naib Canselor, dua orang lagi dilantik sebagai ahli Lembaga Pengarah Universiti, seorang mewakili persatuan staf akademik dan seorang lagi mewakili Senat.
21 - Recruitment of all levels of IPT leadership to be based on attainment ofr excellence based on annual assessment of Key Performance Index.
24 - Appointment of Vice Chancellors to be open and through advertisement to get the best candidates.
25 – Diwujudkan Petunjuk-Petunjuk Prestasi Utama (KPI) untuk mengukur prestasi Naib Canselor berasaskan kepada petunjuk-petunjuk yang ditetapkan itu. KPI tersebut hendaklah dijadikan sebahagian daripada syarat kontrak perkhidmatan Naib Canselor.
26 – Pemilihan professor dibuat dengan rapi, berasaskan syarat-syarat yang ketat, dilakukan secara terbuka dan diberikan gaji yang competitif.
27. – Profesor yang berkaliber diberikan ganjaran khas berasaskan kecemerlangan akademik dan tidak diberikan jawatan-jawatan eksekutif.
28 – Penyelidik dibenarkan menyimpan hak bersama terhadap hasil penyelidikan dan mendapat sebahagian daripada royalty penyelidikannya yang dikomersialkan atau dipatenkan oleh universiti atau agensi lain.
29 – Penerbitan sekurang-kurangnya 15 artikel dalam refereed journal antarabangsa dijadikan syarat wajib dalam perlantikan professor.
More time is clearly needed for a more detailed study of the Zahid Report and its 138 recommendations, which cover not only IPTA but also IPTS – public and private institutions of higher learning.
A Parliamentary Roundtable on the Zahid Higher Education Report will be organized on Wednesday, May 10, 2006, and the Higher Education Minister, the Chairman of Barisan Nasional Backbenchers’ Club, Barisan Nasional MPs, academics and Malaysians concerned about the quality, standards and excellence of higher education in Malaysia will be invited to give their inputs on how to create a world-class higher education system in the country, transforming Malaysia into an international centre of academic excellence.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman