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Mustapha setting good example as first Minister in cyberspace to respond to blogs on Higher Education Ministry � calls for bold decision to establish independent commission  to replace internal review of Universities and University Colleges Act as critical t reform to create world-class universities


Media Statement

by Lim Kit Siang  

, Tuesday) : Higher Education Minister, Datuk Mustapha Mohamed is to be  commended for blazing the path as the first Cabinet Minister in cyberspace to respond to views concerning his ministry on blogs and the internet.


All other Cabinet Ministers should emulate Mustapha if Malaysia is serious about making the quantum leap to become  an ICT (information and communication technologies) powerhouse with the government playing the leading role model in the effective use of ICTs in development plans.


At present, many Ministers have emails for show only, for a number of them are non-operational, others only operated by their officers while there are Ministers who are IT-illiterate.


Ministers should set the example of using ICTs as the among the first choices of communication to the Malaysian public to explain their policies, and not having to resort to the Internet only  when they are desperate for a medium of communication after they are no more in the corridors of power.


A good example is former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who has resorted to cyberspace to disseminate his views and criticisms after being inreasingly �censored� in the government-controlled  mainstream media � publishing his seven-page Open Letter reiterating his allegation  that the government had failed to defend the nation�s interest in scrapping the RM1.1 billion crooked half-bridge  on the pro-UMNO website, Kelab Maya UMNO,


As Mahathir lamented:  �I must publicise the facts in this manner because not many of my statements are being published by the mass media, although they send representatives to attend my press conferences.�


As I pointed out during the ministerial winding-up by the Minister for Energy, Water and Communications, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik in the debate on the Ninth Malaysia Plan yesterday, Malaysia is falling behind in international  competitiveness stakes, with the latest indicator coming from the United Nations Global E-Government Readiness Report 2005.


In the UN Global E-Government Readiness Report 2005: From E-government to E-Inclusion, the latest in the series of annual UN Global E-government Surveys, Malaysia fell from 42nd to 43 position from the previous year. 


The first 20  top-ranking countries are United States, Denmark, United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia, Singapore, Canada, Finland, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Japan, Iceland, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Estonia and Ireland.


What is most serious and worrying is that Malaysia is falling behind other countries in South East Asia. Philippines, which was ranked behind Malaysia at No. 47 last year has not only caught up but is now ahead of Malaysia with a  six-place improvement being ranked  No. 41 in the latest survey.  Thailand, ranked No. 46, is still behind Malaysia, but she made a four-place improvement from No. 50 position last year and will overtake Malaysia in next year�s survey if she continues at this pace.


Yesterday, Mustapha sent me an email to announce that the Zahid Higher Education Report would be made public in early May. This was in clarification and response of my blog �Mustapha Mohamed � prove �First Class Mentality� on Sunday.   This is Mustapha�s email�


�Dear Y.B. Lim,

�I refer to the post on your website dated April 24, �Mustapha Mohamed -
prove �First Class Mentality�.

�The report by the media at the press conference held at LAN last Thursday
was incomplete.

�What I stated was that the Wan Zahid report will be made public as soon as
possible, to allow for public consultations and updating of the findings
and recommendations, including the incorporation of elements outlined in
the 9th Malaysia Plan. Tan Sri Wan Zahid has been tasked to oversee this
effort and the final report is expected to be completed by the end of
September, this year.

�The report in its present form is in the process of being de-classified,
and will be made available to the public in early May.

�Yours sincerely,

�Mustapa Mohamed
�24 April 2006�

I have responded with my blog last night  �Mustapha passes first test � �First Class Mentality� praising him for the commitment to release the Zahid Higher Education Report early next month as well as for setting the example for all Cabinet Ministers to be active in cyberspace.


However, I wish to call on him to take a  bold decision to establish an  independent commission  to replace internal review of Universities and University Colleges Act as a  critical t reform to create world-class universities.


The reply by the Parliamentary Secretary to Higher Education Ministry, Datuk Dr. Adham Baba, during question time today that  the University and Universities Colleges Act review  would be an internal affair is most satisfactory.


That the Higher Education Ministry is not prepared to announce the identities of the members of the UUCA internal review committee  after more than six months since its initial  announcement does not inspire confidence.


In a written reply to the DAP MP for Batu Gajah on March 21, 2006, Mustapha had said that among the officials on the UUCA Internal Review Committee are various law lecturers from University of Malaya, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi MARA and International Islamic University.


Mustapha should dissolve this internal review of the UUCA and replace it with an independent commission, which can include some of the present members of the internal review committee � or the exercise will be a futile one in failing to gain any initial support whether from academics, undergraduates, the civil society or the general Malaysian public that there is a serious effort to remove obstacles to the Ninth Malaysia Plan and National Mission 2006-2020 to nurture �first class mentality and create world-class universities.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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