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Why Are Not A Single Qualified Non-Malay Academic Such As Professor Ramasamy Appointed As Vice-Chancellors Of Public Universities But Terminated For Teaching, Thinking And Speaking Without Fear Or Favour?

Speech at  the "Higher Education In Crisis” Forum
at Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
by Lim Guan Eng  

(Kuala Lumpur, Thursday): Why are not a single qualified non-Malay academic such as Professor Ramasamy appointed as Vice-Chancellors of public universities but terminated for teaching, thinking and speaking without fear or favour? If the government is serious about creating Malaysians as global champions then the fundamental conditions of having a sound education system based on merit can not be compromised.

Malaysia needs a meritocracy that maximizes investments in human capital and harnesses our human resource potential, which has been widely identified as the engines for wealth creation. Four aspects must be included, namely results-driven, knowledge and technologically-based, ethically-centered as well as fulfilling social and national responsibility. If our universities do not fulfill these four aspects, then they have failed in their primary duty to promote creativity, initiative, excellence and competitiveness in our human resources.

Gross injustices where there is no common university entrance examination or top students can not get scholarships or medical places in universities must end. Now even top lecturers with the potential of being university Vice-Chancellors such as Professor Ramasamy are discriminated and marginalized until they can not get an appointment in the university. The deterioration in our universities can be seen by the following:

  • The Asiaweek Best Universities 2000 where regionally, University of Malaya was ranked a lowly 47th position out of 77 universities, with Universiti Putra Malaysia in 52nd and Universiti Sains Malaysia in 57th position.

  • The Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) global ranking of the world’s best 200 universities in November 2004,  with University of Malaya ranked No. 89 (71 places behind University of Singapore although  both Universities share a common origin with the establishment of King Edward VII Medical School in 1905) and the Universiti Sains Malaysia ranked No. 111; and

  • The Shanghai Jiao Tong University 2004 World’s Best 500 universities, where not a single Malaysian university was listed.

  • A “web” ranking of 1,000 universities, by the Madrid-based Internet Lab (Observatorio de Ciencia y Tecnologia en Internet), and there was not a single Malaysian university listed.

Sadly public university standards in Malaysia have been compromised to the extent that not only top students can not gain entrance to top universities but even top lecturers and academics can not gain the rightful place as teachers of our future leaders. Our students can only be as good as our teachers. If our teachers are not up to mark how can we expect our students to excel.

DAP proposes that university Vice-Chancellors must take the lead to ensure that only those who excel academically are appointed. We want qualified Malaysian academics of the level of Professor Ungku Aziz or Dr Chandra Muzaffar or Professor Wang Gungwu or even Professor Ramasamy to be appointed. Sadly only Professor Ungku Aziz was appointed as Vice-Chancellor but not the others either because of their ethnic background or their political leanings.

If the government continues to refuse to appoint our top Malaysian lecturers regardless of race and religion based on merit, our efforts to make Malaysia world-class world-beaters will convince no one. The time has come to adopt a Malaysian agenda on education where excellence and performance is the sole criterion for promotion.



* Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General

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