There must be courageous actions from local public universities, especially University of Malaya to do away with denial syndrome, which is the first crisis of higher education in Malaysia, in order to rectify its problem to improve its ranking in the Times Higher Education Supplement, so that there could be meaningful efforts launched to proceed with real reform on higher education in Malaysia.
Being listed as the first 200 universities, and being placed at the 45th, 82nd and 83rd place in Art/Humanities, Biomedicine and Social sciences respectively does not qualify the erections of 7 giant billboards and at least 150 buntings in the campus of University of Malaya, which is clearly an syok sendiri boastful act.
This clearly shows that the UM Authority is infested with serious denial syndrome, and it is spreading fast in Malaysia as a epidemic disease until Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia yesterday published a full page advertisement in page 7, News Straits Times yesterday, not only to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the university but to also celebrate UKM being enlisted as top 100 science universities in the world.
Such act should not be made as example to other public universities in Malaysia, in fact, civil societies and alumni of all public universities should push campus authorities to confess their shortcomings in running the universities and take concrete actions to improve performance of their universities in different aspects. To do away with denial syndrome will be the first and foremost efforts in dealing with the alarming crisis facing our public universities.
The Ministry of Higher Education should also be alerted on the continued portray of denial syndrome by our administrations in the campus. When UM VC openly claimed that he is not worried with the declining ranking of UM in Time Higher Education Supplement 2005 Report, it is clear that he himself also doesn’t even aware of the seriousness of the situation and he should be expelled from his current position as he himself is also infested with acute denial syndrome which will be a stumbling stone for UM to face its own weaknesses and to proceed with real reform on higher education.
Only with their (universities administrators who failed to realized the seriousness of the crisis) removal, then can our universities move forward for greater achievement in various aspect, including the revival of campus autonomy to enable academicians, administrators and students in the campus to play proactive and leading role in determining the future and the direction of the universities without political and bureaucratic interferences.
Lau Weng San
14th November 2005.