PETALING JAYA: The removal of political appointees as top public university officials is a good sign for higher education reforms.
Applauding the move, the Malaysian Academic Movement (Gerak) said it marked a positive move for joint attempts between the Education Ministry and academics, to improve the country’s education system.
Gerak chairman Prof Zaharom Nain of Nottingham University Malaysia Campus said the group would continue to support Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik’s decisions.
“Dr Maszlee’s decisive actions show true commitment by a fellow academic-turned-politician whose concerns go beyond the colour of our children’s shoes,” said Prof Zaharom in a press release yesterday.
Gerak had submitted a memorandum to Dr Maszlee on June 11, calling for the appointments of vice-chancellors, their deputies and university boards and that of other top university administrators, to be based solely on merit and not politics.
Other proposals included a call to dissolve the National Professors Council, seen as political, and to do away with policies based on race and religion rather than promoting knowledge and ethical values.
The group also called on the Government to replace academics, who had been appointed because of their political links, with respected, independent-minded, analytical and accountable academicians.
“Dr Maszlee has openly stated his agreement with and support of our proposal for academic reforms.
“We appreciate the legal, cultural and structural constraints facing Dr Maszlee and do not expect all 10 proposals to be met in a short space of time.
“We stand by him in his difficult attempts at education reforms and will continue to collaborate with him,” Prof Zaharom said, adding that Gerak was aware of self-serving groups and individuals scheming behind the scenes, hoping to see the minister, and the genuine reforms of the country’s education system, fail.
On Tuesday, The Star Online reported that five chairmen of public universities were recently removed from office as they were “political appointees”.
On whether more university heads would roll, Dr Maszlee said “you will have to wait and see”.
He said it was the same for GLCs and high-level officers who were not steering their institutions in line with the Government’s aspirations for reform.
It was reported in the media that the five are Universiti Malaysia Sabah’s Tun Zaki Azmi, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn’s Tan Sri Sufri Mohd Zin, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin’s Datuk Dr Kamaruddin Hussin, Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Tan Sri Noorul Ainur Mohd Noor and Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Tan Sri Anuwar Ali.