Sinister conspirators and cybertroopers working overtime again, churning out lies and falsehoods including the perpetual “motion of no confidence” against Mahathir for the forthcoming July Parliament

Has there been any positive news in the past week?

It’s not all doom and gloom in undoubtedly the worst week of the Pakatan Harapan government since the historic decision of the 14th General Election on May 9, 2018.

One positive news in the past week was that Universiti Malaya (UM) has made a giant leap up the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2020, and is now ranked 70 in the latest edition of the international university rankings – an impressive 17 spot climb up from 87 last year.

This is the highest position the university has been at since the rankings began in 2004.

Of course I agree that university rankings are not the be-all and end-all for universities, as rankings should not be the sole focus of universities in pursuing excellence.

Universities should not be too obsessed with university rankings as there are legitimate criticisms about the assessment and glamorisation of university rankings.

There is no pride in being a highly-ranked university if the graduates lack integrity and integrity problems like plagiarism are rife and rampant.

Undoubtedly, more important than rankings is the ability to produce graduates who are good citizens, who care about national unity, environment, being considerate to others and transforming Malaysia into a world top-class nation.

But while we should not be obsessed by university rankings, one should not ignore university rankings altogether or be too niggardly in our commendation for Malaysian universities which have improved their university rankings.

We must always strive to develop an ecosystem of excellence in our universities, with university ranking as one such measure – not just QS World University Rankings, but others as well like TIME’s Higher Education World University Rankings, the Academic Ranking of World Universities ARWU and the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities.

In the QS World University Rankings 2020 of top 30 Universities, only five Asian universities are included – National University of Singapore (No. 11); Tsinghua University (16), Peking University (22), Tokyo University (22) and University of Hong Kong (25). Why is this so?

Malaysia scored well in the QS World University Ranking 2020, with five research universities continuing to climb up the international university rankings, viz:

University 2020 rank 2019 rank
Universiti Malaya (UM) 70 87
Universiti Putra M (UPM) 159 202
Universiti Kebansaan M (UKM) 160 184
Universiti Sains M (USM) 165 207
Universiti Technologi M (UTM) 217 228

Malaysia is among the countries that has shown the best improvement in the latest QS world university ranking of top 1,000 universities.

Twenty local universities have been listed this year, with 10 universities improving from last year's ranking, while two universities retained their positions.

The question the University of Malaya and all other university administrators have to answer is why their universities have not been consistent for the various university rankings.

For instance, in the TIME’s World Universities Ranking 2019, only eleven Malaysian universities were ranked among the top 1,000 universities, with Universiti Malaya topping the list but with a rather poor ranking in the band from 301-350.

Why can’t Universiti Malaya be like some 20 universities which can maintain consistency in excellence and are ranked in the top 30 universities of both QS World Ranking 2020 and TIME’s World Universities Ranking 2019 - universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Stanford, Cornell, Duke, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology, Princeton, Yale, London University (Imperial),Tsinghua and University of Singapore?

Another positive news in the past week is the announcement by the Home Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin that the terms of reference for the task force looking into the alleged enforced disappearances of Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat had been established.

This includes setting a six-month time limit, and commencing with an investigation into Amri’s disappearance first as Koh’s case is subject to legal proceedings.

It is unfortunate that there had been a spate of negative news in the past week.

Clearly, sinister conspirators and cybertroopers are working overtime, churning out lies and falsehoods including the perpetual “motion of no confidence” against Prime Minsiter Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in the forthcoming meeting of Parliament from July 1 – 18.

As next month will prove, this motion of no confidence against Mahathir in Parliament is only the creation of the fevered imagination of sinister conspirators and cybertroopers.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri