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Appointment of world-class academician as new UM VC – whether Malay or non-Malay, man or woman - is the first critical test of the government’s  political will to “walk the talk” under 9MP  to  nurture “First Class Mentality” to create towering Malaysians and institutions


Press Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

, Saturday) :The Billboard Vice Chancellor  of University of Malaya, Prof Datuk Dr. Hashim Yaacob, has ended his controversial tenure as the leader of the nation’s premier university yesterday, marked by the removal of every single billboard in the campus.  I can personally vouch for the latter as I visited the UM campus yesterday.

The departure of Hashim as UM VC coincides with the presentation of the Ninth Malaysia Plan by the Prime Minister in Parliament the same day, which has been hyped by the official spin doctors as “a blueprint not merely for the next five years, but for the next few decades”.


The end of Hashim’s contract has presented the Cabinet and the Higher Education Minister, Datuk Mustapha Mohamad  with the first and immediate critical test as to whether they have  the political will and determination to “walk the talk”  to implement the Ninth Malaysia Plan and the 15-year  “National Mission” 2006-2020 to nurture “First Class Mentality” to create towering Malaysians and institutions by appointing  a world-class academician as the new Vice Chancellor of University of Malaya.


New Straits Times report  on Thursday that Datuk Dr. Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahbudin, CEO of National Accreditation Board (LAN) and NCWO President,  “will create history this week when she becomes the first woman vice chancellor” had been proved wrong, with the appointment of UM Deputy VC Prof Datuk Dr. Mohd Razali Agus as acting VC for a month while the Higher Education Ministry decides on the new  appointment.


The Star yesterday reported that three women were among the candidates for the UM VC post – Dr. Sharifah, Prof Dr. Mahani Zainal Abidin, Higher Education Department deputy director-general (management sector) and Datuk Rafiah Salim, International Centre for Leadership in Finance executive director.


The appointment of a woman VC in a public university will be another major gender breakthrough with the  breaking of another glass ceiling for women in Malaysia.  However, what is  at stake in the appointment of the new UM VC is bigger than the  breaking of another glass ceiling for women, as the crux of the issue is whether the government has  the political will and determination to implement  the 9MP  announced  by the  Prime Minister yesterday.


Abdullah had said that ‘the most precious assets of a nation are its people” and described “the development of human capital, the upgrading of the mentality and intellectual capacity of a nation” as one of the biggest challenges under the 9MP.


He said:  “If we wish to become a knowledge-based economy, if we wish to be a developed country and maintain that developed status, the development of human capital must be a priority.  In the context of globalization, high quality human capital has become a necessity, not merely a luxury.”


Well said, but it is time to “walk the talk”.  I call on Mustapha to empanel  an independent Search Committee to select a world-class academic  - regardless of whether Malay or non-Malay, man or woman – to be the new UM VC to send out a clear and unmistakable message of the government’s political will and determination to “walk the talk” under 9MP  to  nurture “First Class Mentality” by restoring UM as an university of international repute and standing as  in the sixties and seventies.


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

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