Thursday, August 7, 2008

Amendment to University and University College Act

The University College Act has a lot of restrictions on university students. This act has often been condemned as to restrict academic freedom. While there are many good points in these amendments, there are others who feel they are not going far enough. This act is often being blamed for the low level of understanding in politics and involvement among youths in political activities since it is a criminal offence to be involved in political acts while still studying.

The amendment I understand allows students to join any lawful society and organization. I cannot accept that students joining political party will affect their studies and hence, restrict their freedom of thoughts. Early exposure by students to the political reality in Malaysia is important so that our university students are politically mature. It is in the university that students have time to ponder, mix and to decide which political party or organizations they like to be associated with. This is not a life long attachment since students can opt out of any political party or organizations when they decide to do so at later stage. Often it is in university that students develop interest, either political or apolitical. They need this space to develop their full potential.

These amendments will also give greater autonomy to university board, including appointment of vice chancellor and professor. This amendment will reduce the power of Minister of Higher Education in respect of appointment of vice chancellor, professor and academic board. In its place, there will be more consultation and discussion among university members. Hopefully, there will be less politics involved in the appointment of senior academic staffs in university. This is often been cited as one of the reasons why standards of local university have been going downhill. Hopefully, senior academic staffs in our local universities demonstrate more professionalism in their discharge of duty, reflective of the type of standards we expect from the academician. Otherwise, the amendment will only be good on paper and the greater autonomy enjoyed by university will be nullified by the academician.


NEIL said...

Dr,The uni in malaysia is not only having so many restrictions but it's going downhill and the ranking had also dropped to below 300.It's a shame when the degrees obtain here are also not recognized abroad.Many uni here are third class and they are known as commercial uni becos they are after your money and not imparting knowledge that you deserve.

ZORO said...

The removal of the existing University College Act is long overdue considering the political threats have all been gone for ages.

We have too many acts trying to curb the people freedom one way or another under the name of internal security. The acts are simply reflecting our government weakness and in giving people more freedom in expressing themselves. The lack of confidence in itself is highlighted by controlling people's thinking and direction of thought, for example, sometimes ago, there were some Malaysian young women lured by some syndicates involving drug smuggling abroad had caused our law makers to trying to pass a new regulation that they must sought their parent's consent before going abroad.

It's very sad that we still need the ISA and a lot of other out-of-date acts; this reflects our government attitude and its lack of confidence in itself. Malaysian will never grow up if we continue to have these “stumbling blocks” meant to curb their growth. Has anyone seen the Japanese square water melon? They grow the melon in a square transparent plastic enclosure! Is that what we want to our society?

CT Choo said...

I support and second your observations, Dr Chua. Administrators and leaders of the local universities must take this as a clear direction from the Parliament and Executive, that their single, most important task, is to encourage a spirit of inquiry on an open basis.

But, like many, I am concerned about the appointment of the university administrators. This is still the prerogative of the Minister for Higher Education. This is the weak link. Political sycophants may still get appointed at the expense of good academic leaders.

We should advocate for the university senate to decide on eligible vice-chancellery candidates instead of leaving it to a political master.

Onekampung said...

For years, I have never seen a non-Malay vice chancellor running our givernment universites. While we don't want to question the capabilities of our Malay brothers, but will be believe the government can't even find one non-Malay good enough to run the universities?

Stifling the thinking of our young students is one thing, but if we do not put the best brains to run our universities, you will never see a day when our government universities will rank higher than what they are.

I always hate to compare, but just turn south and look at Singapore! Why the universities there can excel to great heights and in our universities we have even heard that lecturers copy the thesis of their students either for publications or submission for higher degrees!

Onekampung said...

Dr, your newly changed web blog page is very badly designed, not only it is user unfriendly, the colours of the wordings are hardly visible. I note that there are 4 listings for August, but if you look carefully, you can hardly find where they are. This is because the font colour is terrible.

One thing, your blog is becoming less interesting; there is little interaction among readers.

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