Three proposals to enhance  excellence in tertiary education which are important building-blocks for Malaysia’s reputation as centre for academic excellence than a P.R. exercise to polish image

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(PenangThursday): The Committee of Vice Chancellors and Rectors of 17  Public Institutes of Higher Learning (JKNC/R) yesterday agreed in Penang to establish a corporate and international relations secretariat to promote the image of their institutions. 

According to the JKNC/R Chairman,  Professor Tan Sri Dr. Abu Hassan Othman, the aim is to jointly show to the public the achievements of our local institutions as many “have taken part in and won major prizes at scientific shows such as the inventors competition in Geneva recently, proving that our scientists are of international standard”. (New Straits Times)  

Establishing  academic excellence in tertiary education in Malaysia  to build up an international reputation as a centre for academic excellence in  the country is a serious business involving hard work and it will be most unfortunate if it is regarded primarily as a P.R. exercise to polish and promote the image of the 17 public institutes of higher learning without  a systematic and focused programme to raise their  academic quality,  standards and achievements. 

DAP wishes to make three proposals to enhance  excellence in tertiary education to build up an international academic reputation for Malaysia, which should not be regarded as a P.R. exercise but involving solid academic work and a culture of excellence, viz: 

  • Meritocracy in student intake – starting with a common university entrance examination for the 17 public institutions of higher learning and ending the farce of the present “meritocracy system without merit”, which has made Malaysian higher education a laughing stock in the international academic world.
  • Meritocracy for academic appointments and promotions in the public universities – and so long as non-Malay Malaysians can only be appointed to high academic posts, including Vice Chancellors,  of foreign universities of international repute but not to these positions in local universities, Malaysia cannot claim to have  achieved this second building-block for academic excellence in our universities; and
  • Annual assessment and rating  of public and private institutes of higher learning with regard to their academic excellence, with annual report to Parliament followed by an annual debate.


These three proposals are important building-blocks to achieve  a culture of academic excellence for our universities and to establish Malaysia’s reputation as a centre for educational excellence  which deserve the attention of the Vice Chancellors and Rectors of the 17 Public Institutes of Higher Learning in Malaysia.


Instead, they are being neglected and what is pre-occupying the top officers of the 17 public institutes is the P.R. exercise of how build or polish images, which is clearly putting the cart before the horse and a total perversion of the proper order of priorities of tertiary institutions in the country. 


They should be reminded that good image of universities come with the culture and tradition of academic excellence and no amount of P.R. gimmicry can create the reputation of academic excellence when there is neither culture nor tradition of excellence.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman