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Media Conference Statement by Lim Kit Siang at the DAP/PR Sibu by-election media centre on Friday, 14th May 2010: 


Continued drop of ranking of Malaysian Universities in Asia – part of larger disease of Malaysia becoming the “sick man of South-East Asia”

The latest QS Asian University Rankings 2010 is a sorry tale of the unchecked drop and decline of the standards and international standing of Malaysian public universities.

The country's premier institution of higher education, Universiti Malaya, has dropped two places to 41 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 – just like Universiti Teknologi Malaysia at 82.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, however, took a tumble from 51 to be placed 58, with Universiti Putra Malaysia improving its ranking from 90 to 77.

The continued drop of ranking of Malaysian Universities in Asia is part of the larger disease of Malaysia becoming the “sick man of South-East Asia” – resulting in 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.

This is why the New Economic Model (NEM) crafted by a panel of local and foreign experts have sound the warning: “We must act now before our position deteriorates any further”.

Unfortunately, although the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak as acknowledged the national ills and decline exposed and highlighted by the NEM, he has yet to demonstrate that he has the political will to bring about government far-reaching reforms.

In 2004, Malaysia was still included in the Times Higher Education Supplement-QS Top 200 Universities Ranking, with University of Malaya ranked in 89th position.

In that 2004 international ranking, University of Malaya was ranked the 10th Top Asian University – but it has now fallen even further to No. 42 in Asia – overtaken by more than 30 other Asian universities in a space of six years!

During my schooldays in the fifties, students do not think about foreign universities unless their results were not good or their parents have a lot of money. This was because University of Malaya, which had just separated from its Singapore campus to spawn two separate universities with University of Singapore, was recognized internationally as one of the world-class universities.

Today, the first option of Malaysian students is to get places in foreign universities and local placing in Malaysian public universities is their last choice, because of the drop and decline of standards and prestige of Malaysian universities.

This is not progress but going backwards.

During my school days, we do not think too highly of Hong Kong University for instance for we believe that University of Malaya was comparable if not a better university!

What a world of a change in a matter of 50 years under Umno/Barisan Nasional rule!

In the Asian University Rankings 2010, three of the top four come from Hong Kong – with University of Hong Kong (first), The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (second) and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (fourth) out of the top 200 Asian universities.

The top 20 Asian universities in the 2010 Ranking are:

1. Hong Kong University (HK)
2. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HK)
3. National University of Singapore (Spore)
4. Chinese University of Hong Kong (HK)
5. Tokyo University (Japan)
6. Seoul University (SKorea)
7. Osaka University (Japan)
8. Kyoto University (Japan)
9. Tohoku University (Japan)
10. Nagoya University (Japan)
11. Tokyo Institute of Technology (Japan)
12. Peking University (China)
13. Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) (SKorea)
14. POHANG University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) (SKorea)
15. City University of Hong Kong (HK)
16. Tsinghua University (China)
17. Kyushu University (Japan)
18. Nanyang Technological University (NTU) (Spore)
19. Yonsei University (SKorea)
20. Tsukuba University (Japan)

Having been placed Top Tenth Asian University in the 2004 Times Higher Education Supplement (THES), the Prime Minister and Malaysian people (and the Sibu voters) must regard the dismal placings of Malaysian public universities in the Asian Universities Ranking 2010 as a final warning not only of the advanced nature of the Malaysian educational crisis but also Malaysian nation-building crisis.

The warnings of the NEM bears repeating here:

  • We are not developing talent and what we have is leaving. The human capital situation in Malaysia is reaching a critical stage.

  • Globalisation has created a fierce competition for talent, forcing companies and government to recognise that people are the most valuable assets. To compete on a regional and global scale, Malaysia must retain and attract talent. Malaysia must be seen by its people and by others as a land of equal opportunity to earn a good living and provide a secure, happy life for each individual and the family.

The Prime Minister and the Barisan Nasional parties, including SUPP, dare not tell the people the truth about the nation-building crisis facing the country. As I asked the other day, can Malaysia go the way of Greece and become bankrupt and if Malaysia goes bankrupt, can Sarawak be spared? No answer from PM and CM at all.

These are hard questions the SUPP and BN leaders do not want to share with the people or raise in Parliament.

This is why right from the beginning I had said that the Sibu by-election is the Battle of the Century, as demonstrated by the presence not only of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, but virtually the entire Sarawak State and Federal Cabinets – as if for the past week, the capitals of Sarawak state and Malaysian nation have shifted to Sibu and not Kuching and Kuala Lumpur respectively.

For the sake of Sibu,Sarawak and Malaysia, I call on the voters of Sibu to vote for the future, to write history and create miracle by sending Wong Ho Leng to Parliament as MP for Sibu to signify that the “fixed deposit” states of Sarawak and Sabah are ready with the rest of Malaysia to complete the March 8 “political tsunami” of the 2008 general elections to effect a change of government in Putrajaya in the 13th General Elections as well as to end the rule of “Peh Moh” in Sarawak in the forthcoming Sarawak state general election.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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