Latest rebuttals to the DPM and PM’s boasts of Malaysia as “world’s best democracy” and “world’s best education system”

Malaysians woke up this morning to further and latest rebuttals to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister’s boasts of Malaysia as the “one of the world’s best education system” and “world’s best democracy”.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s boast that Malaysia has “one of the world’s best education system” was given a bloody nose by the report that Malaysian universities again failed to make the cut to this year’s Times Higher Education (THE) top 200 global rankings while Singapore’s National University (which shared the same beginnings with University of Malaya) leapt into the top 25 universities list.

The Malay Mail Online in its report “Malaysian universities not in top 200 global rankings, Singapore’s improves” said the latest index shows a significant drop for Malaysian universities from last year’s ranking.

Muhyiddin has been Education Minister for more than five years since 2009.

He should make a Ministerial statement when Parliament resumes next Tuesday on Oct. 7 why all efforts during year tenure as Education Minister for over five years have failed to restore Malaysia’s high international standing in university academic repute and excellence in the fifties and sixties – to the extent that for five consecutive years, none of the Malaysian universities had been able to be ranked among the THE Top 200 University Rankings.

It should be noted that in the past five years, Singapore two universities, National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University improved their rankings in the THE Top 200 World University Rankings from No. 34 and No. 174 placings in 2010 to No. 25 and No. 61 rankings respectively, while the scores of Malaysian Universities remain steadfastly outside the THE 200 Top University Rankings.

Nine years ago during the University of Malaya’s centennial celebrations in June 2005, the then Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, threw the challenge to University of Malaya to raise its 89th position in 2004 among the world’s top 200 universities in the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) World Universities Ranking to 50 by the year 2020.

Let Muhyiddin explain in his Ministerial statement next week how he proposes in the next five years to meet Najib’s challenge to place University of Malaya in the ranks of THE Top 50 Universities by 2020 when in the past five years, not a single Malaysian university could get into the THE Top 200 World University Rankings!

A Ministerial statement from Muhyiddin next week is all the more urgent and imperative as the THE World University Rankings 2014 is only the latest blow suffered by Malaysian higher education this year, viz:

(1) In March, Malaysia absent from the THE Top 100 World Reputation Rankings list losing out to other Southeast Asian countries.

Singapore National University (SNU) achieved the best World Reputation Rankings in the four-year THE series, ranked No. 34 in 2011, 40 in 2012, 29 in 2013 and 21 in 2014. SNU is only behind two other Asian universities the 2014 World Reputation Rankings – University of Tokyo and Kyoto University in 11th and 19th ranking respectively.

Other Asian universities following closely behind SNU in the THE World Reputation Rankings 2014 are Seoul National University (No. 26), Tsinghua University (No. 36), Peking University (No. 41), University of Hong Kong (No. 43), Osaka University (No. 50), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), National Taiwan University and Tokyo Institute of Technology (No. 51-60), Tohoku University (No. 61-70), Chinese University of Hong Kong, Yonsei University (No.81-90) and Nanyang Technological University (No. 91-100).

(2) In April, Malaysia left out of this year’s ranking of the THE Top 100 Universities under 50 years old.

Four Asian universities were ranked among the top 10 of the world’s young universities, including South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology which took the top spot.

(3) In June, Malaysia left out of THE Top 100 Asia University Rankings 2014.

Five countries were represented in the top 10 of the Asian university rankings – Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and China. Even India made outstanding progress with 10 institutions in the top 100, compared with only three last year. Thailand has two universities in the top 100 list.

Malaysia is not only facing a serious and deteriorating higher education crisis, but a grave crisis in the entire education system as witnessed by recent international assessments which place Malaysian students in the bottom-third of international educational benchmarks and attainments.

It is not only Muhyiddin, however, who was given a bloody nose, but the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak as well, as morning news reported of another victim of the current sedition spree – law student Dalbinder Singh Gill from Penang who was detained late last night (and released early this morning) under the Sedition Act for his Facebook posting.

It is reported that it was the police itself who lodged the police report against Dalbinder, which reminded me that it was also the police which lodged a sedition police report against me for saying during a forum commemorating the fifth death anniversary of Teoh Beng Hock that Beng Hock did not commit suicide at the MACC premises in Shah Alam in July 2009 but was killed and that his killers were still at large – resulting in the police launching a sedition investigation against me.

My other thought of police report against Dalbinder for sedition was whether the police would be making sedition police reports against those responsible for the ISMA video in connection with the sedition trial of ISMA President Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman, and what is the criteria for police itself lodging sedition police reports and not lodging police reports.

Be that as it may, the sedition madness intensified in the week before the 57th Merdeka Day to create a climate of fear to suppress freedom of expression and stifle legitimate criticism and dissent should be halted immediately if Najib’s pledge to make Malaysia the world’s best democracy is to retain any credibility.

The decision by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court today to allow law professor Dr. Azmi Sharom to challenge in High Court the constitutionality of his sedition charge and the Sedition Act is a welcome development.

The Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail should explain why he is still sanctioning a blitz of sedition investigations and prosecutions when he had promised more than three weeks ago on Sept. 9 to review all sedition cases.

How can the Attorney-General justify pushing for custodial sentences in the recent sentencing of student activists Adam Adli Abdul Halim and Muhammad Safwan Anang during the duration of the review of the sedition dragnet.

At minimum, until the outcome of the review of sedition charges by the Attorney-General Chambers, there should be a halt of all sedition investigations and charges, and all pending sedition prosecutions should be suspended in the meanwhile.

Most important of all, Malaysians are entitled to know the outcome of the AG’s review of the sedition cases – or have the review been stopped in its tracks?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah