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Scrap and replace the present UUCA review “internal committee” working in secrecy to serve the powers-that-be with an independent and credible review committee comprising eminent Malaysians as an important first step to restore university quality and excellence
By denying that there is a crisis in higher education, which is recognized by all objective and dispassionate Malaysians, whether in the political, educational or opinion arenas, Mustapha had only raised questions whether his stewardship of the Higher Education Ministry can usher in university reform and renaissance in the public universities.
His statement to reporters at the Parliament corridor after the question time was most unfortunate and inappropriate – as he was as good as telling university students that they should just be bookworms and to concentrate on their studies when he warned that there are laws in the country, that students who breach law will be “hauled up” and that they should not get involved in demonstrations.
If the new Higher Education Minister is not prepared to alter his mindset about the role of universities in nation-building – a place where students are allowed full and free play of their idealism for a clash of ideas as to how to improve and change society and even the world and not just be a factory to churn out degrees and diplomas – then the promised review of the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) is a sham and utterly meaningless exercise.
In a written reply to the DAP MP for Batu Gajah, Fong Po Kuan earlier this week asking for developments on the UUCA review and the members of the review committee, Mustapha was very tight-lipped and not forthcoming at all. All he would say was that the committee that had been set up to review the UUCA was an “internal committee” comprising various law lecturers from the public universities, such as University of Malaya, University Teknologi Mara and International Islamic University.
He said the Committee was looking into various provisions in the UUCA and would make proposals to the Ministry for consideration for necessary improvement and amendments.
Why is Mustapha so shy in making public the names of this “UUCA review internal committee”, revealing the identity of the chairman and members of the committee, and most important of all, the specific terms of reference of the review.
This is most unsatisfactory review of the UUCA, both in terms of its composition, terms of reference and lack of openness and transparency, as the outcome could be even worse than today, resulting in a further tightening of the current controls imposed on the academicians and students which have destroyed the academic culture and tradition making it impossible for the public universities to attain world-recognition for academic excellence and university quality.
The UUCA review “internal committee” was set up by the former Higher Education Minister, Datuk Shafie Salleh, to try to placate demands for repeal of the UUCA. It is clearly an unacceptable committee.
Mustapha should scrap and replace the present UUCA review “internal committee” working in secrecy to serve the powers-that-be with an independent and credible review committee comprising eminent Malaysians as an important first step to restore university quality and excellence.
The admissions by the Chairman of the University of Malaya (UM) Board of Directors, Tan Sri Arshad Ayub in his “Evening” with the UM Academic Staff Association (PKAUM) on Wednesday that something was very wrong with the state of the public universities was most refreshing and many must have sighed that it had not come from the new Higher Education Minister himself.
Arshad, for instance, came out with the proposal for an independent search committee to handle the appointments of the 18 vice-chancellors, 54 deputy Vice Chancellors and members of the board of directors or governors of the 18 public universities.
the bull by the horn, Arshad conceded the plunge in university quality when
he said that “the
academic standards can be reversed by an administration that is transparent,
accountable, non-racial and free of corrupt practices”. He blamed the
current drop in overall varsity standards on bad administrative calls
involving discriminatory practices and unfair treatment.
I commend Arshad
for his frank admission about dropping university standards and local
universities being plagued by allegations of racial polarisation, obscure
marking schemes and unfair academic promotions. Arshad is right that the
“form of governance has a direct bearing on academic standards”.
“Are we providing
a working environment where academic integrity is paramount and the path to
professional satisfaction and reward? Or are we creating an environment
based on feudalistic practices that can bring about nothing but
Mustapha should not miss the second opportunity in Parliament next week during the Ministerial replies to the debate on the motion of thanks for the Royal Address to send out the clear the unmistakable message of his commitment to far-reaching university reform and renaissance to achieve excellence and produce quality human resources and to stop the present path of mediocrity churning out unemployable graduates.
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