Media statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 9th September 2010:
Malaysian universities falling out of top 200 universities in QS World University Rankings 2010 latest proof that Najib’s NEM are just empty words lacking political will and leadership necessary to effect Malaysia’s economic transformation
Malaysian universities have again fallen out of the top 200 universities in the latest QS World University Rankings 2010, with University of Malaya falling from last year’s ranking of 180 to 207.
This is the latest proof that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s New Economic Model are just empty words lacking the political will and leadership necessary to effect Malaysia’s economic transformation to escape the decades-long “middle-income trap” to become a inclusive and sustainable high-income developed country by 2020.
The Najib premiership is fast developing a split personality – plugging the NEM for international consumption with its recognition of human talents as the most valuable national assets in the era of globalization while ignoring NEM locally for fear of evoking extremist opposition to its proposals on new affirmative policies based on meritocracy and needs.
During the Sibu by-election in May this year, I had referred to the latest QS Asian University Rankings 2010 where the country’s premier institution of higher education, University of Malaya had dropped two places to 41st this year from 39 last year while Universiti Sains Malaysia, which was granted Apex status in 2008 only managed to maintain its ranking at 69, and lamented Malaysia becoming the “sick man of South-East Asia”- with a decade of economic stagnation and national decline in all aspects of national life, whether educational excellence, good governance, institutional professionalism, human rights or environmental protection.
The warning by NEM, crafted by a panel of local and foreign experts that “We must act now before our position deteriorates any further” had failed to make any impact or impression whatsoever as far as the government leadership is concerned.
I have today received an email from a post-graduate student in University of Malaya expressing his concern at my lamentation.
The email reads:
I'm a postgrad student in University of Malaya.
Prof Ghauth Jasmon was appointed as a Vice Chancellor of UM two years ago with a great vision to make this university a world class university. Being the vice chancellor of the oldest university in this country which is also well known of producing many great and famous leaders, is a heavy burden.
I completed my bachelor degree in this university and registered my PhD right after that which was in the same year Prof Ghauth Jasmon was appointed as the VC of the university.
In that time, I had witnessed a great change and improvement he had implemented in this university in a goal to improve quality and the world ranking of the university.
Prof Jasmon is a meritrocacy oriented academician and he has opened up a vast opportunity to many lecturers and famous researcher to join this university regardless of their ethnicity, complexion or religion.
A series of good but strict rules and policies had been made to achieve the goal. In the eyes of some profs, academic and admin staffs who used to live an easy life, appointment of Prof Jasmon as VC has become a nightmare to them. Thus, some resistance force has arisen and stood against his way but yet he is still standing firmly and continue doing his job to make this university a better university.
I notice there is a drop of ranking of UM this year but the ranking is disputed and it cannot be fully used as a reference in judging the quality of the university.
I support Prof Ghauth Jasmon and I think he deserves more support from the government and all the political parties in this country to achieve the goal.
I hope DAP can go easy on the drop of the ranking of local universities this year.
In fact, compliment and credits should be given to him for all his hardwork in improving the university in terms of increment in number of publications and number of academic staff.
If this post-graduate student is right, and I know many who have the interests of University of Malaya and the nation at heart share this view, it only means that University of Malaya would not have just plunged 27 rankings but probably double the drop if not for Professor Ghauth Jasmon at the helm of University of Malaya.
This is indeed serious food for thought.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor