The Tempinis diaries

July 15, 2008

Melbourne University reappoints Glyn Davis as VC

Filed under: education, malaysia, politics — Tags: , — toru @ 12:47 pm

It seems that the Higher Education Minister has not decided on whether to extend Rafiah Salim’s contract as the Vice Chancellor of University of Malaya.  More worrying is the fact that the Ministry does not seem to know how to conduct a proper Vice-Chancellor search committee. I have consistently maintained that in order for there to be some continuity, Rafiah Salim should be extended for at least one more term.    See the story below where the Vice Chancellor of Melbourne University has been appointed for 10 years.  A revolving door involving a string of Vice Chancellors is not healthy for an institution of higher learning.

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Melbourne University reappoints Glyn Davis as VC

Andrew Trounson

IN what is a restatement of its confidence in the new “Melbourne model” of offering professional graduate degrees, the University of Melbourne has reappointed its vice-chancellor Glyn Davis to another five-year term.

The appointment, which could keep Professor Davis at Melbourne until the start of 2015, will also scrap any lingering rumours that he could be tempted to Canberra by close friend and fellow Queenslander, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

(more…)

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July 13, 2008

Brain Gain Malaysia: Be Specific on Details, Noraini

Filed under: education, malaysia, singapore — toru @ 1:15 pm

To be fair to the Malaysian government, they have launched a programme called Brain Gain Malaysia. See story below. But as the Deputy Minister, Noraini Ahmad, recently noted the response so far has been tepid. In a typical Malaysian style, the Deputy Minister said in a vague manner that the incentives will be improved. Now the devil is in the details. How will it be improved? The website is equally vague – I can’t seem to find an application form anywhere. It would be helpful if the Deputy Minister could provide more details. Perhaps, the good Minister should read Zweig and Chung’s paper (pages 13 – 15) on the steps China has taken on using its ‘diaspora option’. These steps include setting up joint research centres, bringing back talented diaspora to teach at local universities and conferring joint professorial appointments. All these are sensible moves which Malaysia should seriously consider.

The other interesting thing about the Bernama story below is that it estimates that there are 40,000 – 50,000 Malaysians working in Singapore alone. I wouldn’t be surprised if the figure is actually higher. Imagine that! This is the human costs of the NEP. As usual, Malaysia’s loss is Singapore’s gain.

In order not to end this blog post in a totally negative manner, I am pleased to see a blurb on the website reporting that the first recipient of the Brain Gain Malaysia is Dr. Tan Man Wah of Stanford collaborating with the Malaysian Genome Institute. That is very good news, indeed.

Brain Gain Programme Incentives Will Be Improved

KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 (Bernama) — The incentives in the government’s Brain Gain Malaysia (BGM) programme will be improved to attract more Malaysian professionals employed overseas to return and work here.

Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Noraini Ahmad said although the programe was on-going not many had responded.

(more…)

Tapping into Malaysian Diaspora: Datukship for Danny Quah?

Filed under: education, malaysia, politics — toru @ 5:35 am

With all eyes on the political drama playing out between Anwar and Najib, I guess the government is not doing much nowadays, at least in the Higher Education sector.

I have previously written about the brain drain issue from Malaysia here, here and here. Now that the brain drain has happened, we should do something positive about this situation i.e. tapping into these Malaysians’ talent. Unfortunately, Malaysia is doing a terrible job at tapping into the talent and energy of its diaspora. Take Malaysian born Danny Quah of LSE for example. He is a world-renowned economist who is now Head of Department at the LSE Economics Department. Why has the Malaysian government not tapped into his expertise in a formal manner? From the Bernama article below, he seems to have been consulted by the World Bank and governments such as the United Kingdom and Singapore but not Malaysia. Also, why is it that the local Malaysian varsities have not approached him for a joint professorial appointment? If a joint professorial appointment is possible for a Mat Salleh like Jeffrey Sachs, why not Danny Quah? And why has he not been bestowed a Datukship? If we can give Datukships to entertainers like Siti Nurhaliza & Michaell Yeoh, fashion icon like Jimmy Choo and sports personalities like Nichol David, why not confer the title on an academic who has distinguished himself globally?

These are some small but concrete steps in luring back talented Malaysian diaspora to collaborate with our universities and government agencies for the betterment of the country.
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May 26, 2008 20:24 PM
Dismantle Fuel Subsidy System, Says Economic Professor

KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 (Bernama) — The subsidy system, especially for fuel, should be dismantled as Malaysia is capable of absorbing the consequences, according to a professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

“It could well be tolerated by reducing it by 20 percent or if not higher in very short term or in six months,” said Prof Danny Quah at a public lecture on “The Rise and Fall of Subsidies” organised by the LSE Alumni Society of Malaysia here Monday.

(more…)

July 12, 2008

Getting Rejected is not the End of the World

Filed under: education, malaysia, singapore, studying in Singapore — toru @ 3:44 am

Getting rejected for a scholarship is not the end of the world. While the disbursement of scholarships in Malaysia based on race is unfair, parents and students should not fall into the trap of the ‘victim’ mentality. Pick yourself up and do not dwell on the rejection. Go on and do A-Levels or STPM. Work hard and do it well. See story below. You can come back stronger and better! But an important thing is that students must use the two years to improve the standard of their English.

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Saturday July 12, 2008
Foo can always count on patience and perseverance
By VIJENTHI NAIR and AIZAT IRHAS
KUALA LUMPUR: Student Foo Fang Hai, 20, was disappointed when he failed to get a scholarship after his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia but his patience and perseverance paid off after completing his sixth form.

Foo, who was awarded a Singapore Scholarship to study accountancy at Singapore Management University said: “One can always achieve success if one works hard enough.”

“Recognise what you want and work hard at it,” said Foo, a former Victoria Institution student who scored 4As in his Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM).

Foo, who switched from science to arts stream in Form Six, fell in love with accounts after his father sent him for a crash course in accounting.

Well done: Jasudasen (third from left) congratulating (from left)Tan, Wong, Foo and Mithran at the Singapore High Commission yesterday.
(more…)

July 9, 2008

Model Apex Varsity after NUS

Filed under: education, malaysia — toru @ 12:35 pm

Very sensible move advocated by Mr. P George.  But will the powers that be actually listen?

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Model apex varsity after NUS

I REFER to your report “Decision soon on apex varsity” (The Star, July 8). I would like to urge the authorities involved in making this decision to look closely at the public universities in Singapore, National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University which are funded by the Singapore government and which are the best in Asean and amongst the best in Asia and the world.

The well-regarded Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) World University Rankings 2007 shows the National University of Singapore (NUS) at 33rd place and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) at 69th place, among the top 100 universities in the world.

Indeed, NUS is ranked among the top 50 universities in the world for natural sciences (25th), life sciences and biomedicine (12th), technology (10th), social sciences (20th) and arts and humanities (21st).

What will it take for Malaysia’s soon-to-be-decided apex university to be able to compete with the likes of NUS in Singapore, and more ambitiously, with the top 10 universities in the world such as Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, Yale, Imperial College, Princeton, California Institute of Technology, University of Chicago, University College London and MIT?

If one were to take Singapore’s NUS as an example, one guiding principle would be to recruit the best available administrators and professors, lecturers, tutors and research assistants internationally and pay them according to international standards, while assessing their performance on rigorous and transparent criteria.

Another guiding principle would be to recruit the best students from within Malaysia and from other Asean and Asian countries based on clear and transparent meritocratic criteria.

Yet another guiding principle would be to provide generous funding for scholarships and bursaries so as to ensure that no qualified student, no matter how poor, is denied a chance to study at an apex university.

But given the situation in Malaysia, where the Government tends to regulate higher education and universities with a heavy hand, and where bureaucracy and national agendas call the shots, the drive to set up one or more apex universities could well be an expensive exercise in futility and be doomed to abject failure.

As it is, our best students are being lured overseas year after year, often with full scholarships, to top-ranked universities, with a strong possibility that they may not return to Malaysia after graduation. And this trend will intensify, given the global hunt for talent, both in the region and around the world.

Yet the government does not seem to have the political will to address the relevant issues in higher education head-on.

P. GEORGE,
Johor Baru.

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