Forward    Feedback    


Mustapha Mohamad’s faces critical  test whether he is to be taken seriously about the  target of ensuring two Malaysian universities among the top 50 in the world by 2010


Press Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

, Friday):A month after his appointment as Higher Education Minister, Datuk Mustapha Mohamed announced in his speech at an Universiti Teknology Mara conference on Tuesday the ambitious  target of two Malaysian universities among the top 50 universities  in the world by 2010 in line with  his ministry’s emphasis on academic excellence and internalization.

This is a refreshing change and start for the  new Higher Education Minister although the  target surprised Malaysians concerned about higher education in the country – regarding it as over-ambitious and even unachievable in view of the relentless deterioration of the quality and academic standards in the public universities evidenced by the 80-point drop of University of Malaya from 89th to 169th ranking in the latest The Times Higher Education  Supplement World’s Best 200 Universities Ranking 2005, losing to Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University for the first time, and the elimination of Universiti Sains Malaysia from the THES list altogether.

I also think it   is rather ambitious and quite unachievable  for Malaysia, after a quarter of a century of mediocrity whether in higher education policy formulation and implementation  or university academic leadership, to be able to restore Malaysia’s good international standing in university education in the sixties in a matter of five years under the Ninth Malaysia Plan from 2006 to 2010.

However, I am prepared to give full support to Mustapha if he is serious about the target to ensure that at least two of our universities are in the list of the world’s top 50 by 2010 – and I am sure he would have the backing of all right-thinking Malaysians. There is however one condition -  Mustapha must demonstrate that he is really  serious in his goal to achieve international ranking for Malaysian universities and is not merely engaged in a PR exercise, conjuring this target from thin air without any intention to see to its fruition.

The nation has lost too much time in arresting the deterioration of higher education quality and standards in the past quarter of a century and we cannot afford any more delay in setting about the serious and formidable task of reversing the  trend deterioration of higher education standards which is so costly to our international competitiveness, economic prosperity and standard of living.

Mustapha will be faced with the first critical test by the end of this month whether he is to be taken seriously about achieving academic excellence and international repute for Malaysian universities, including  the  target of two Malaysian universities among the top 50 in the world by 2010.

The contract of the  Dr. Hashim Yaacob, Vice Chancellor of University of Malaya, the nation’s premier university, terminates at the end of this month.

This provides Mustapha the opportunity  to demonstrate that he is serious about his ambitious target to ensure that at least two Malaysian universities are in the world’s top 50 by 2010, impressing both the local and international academic community with the appointment of a Vice Chancellor who is  internationally- recognized for his or her scholarship, or as Dr. Azmi Sharom, Associate professor of Law Faculty, University of Malaya, said in his Open Letter to the Higher Education Minister,  the Vice Chancellor must have “the qualities of an outstanding intellectual, manager and diplomat, who can ensure that academic principles are paramount, not political expediency”.

Hashim has created a “reputation” for himself among VCs not only in Malaysia but also world-wide as the “Billboard Vice Chancellor” – but this is not the route for any university  to be among the world’s top 50 universities but to drop out of the 200 Top Universities list altogether.

Mustapha should instill public confidence by keeping to the  pledge to establish an independent search committee to fill all vacancies for the post of Vice Chancellor for all universities, drawing membership  primarily from  retired academics of repute.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

Your e-mail:

Your name: 

Your friend's e-mail: 

Your friend's name: