16 June 2020

GERAK di Astro Awani

https://youtu.be/XF6rfEglJ58


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XF6rfEglJ58#action=share

23 March 2020

KEPIMPINAN UNIVERSITI DAN KRISIS COVID19




KENYATAAN MEDIA GERAK
MENGENAI KEPIMPINAN UNIVERSITI DAN KRISIS COVID19




GERAK ingin menarik perhatian tentang arahan penutupan universiti dan tekanan kepada mahasiswa-mahasiswi untuk pulang ke kampung pada 17 Mac 2020 dalam mana suasana sekatan perjalanan dilaksanakan keesokan harinya.

GERAK mendapati banyak kekeliruan yang timbul dengan arahan-arahan yang bertentangan. Ini telah menyebabkan para pelajar kebingungan akibat kepimpinan universiti yang kurang kewibawaan serta kurang proaktif.

Pertama, setelah arahan sekatan perjalanan diumumkan pada 16 Mac yang lalu, yang mana pihak kerajaan mengarahkan semua universiti ditutup. Pelbagai tanggapan salah kemudian wujud yang mana terdapat beberapa universiti yang mengarahkan pelajar untuk pulang ke kampung. Seharusnya apabila arahan tutup diumumkan, pelajar tidak boleh keluar kampus. Mereka hendaklah kembali ke tempat kediaman masing-masing, untuk memenuhi tujuan pengasingan yang dikeluarkan oleh Majlis Keselamatan Negara.

Penutupan universiti bukanlah bermakna pelajar diarah keluar kampus dan balik kampung, dengan berpusu-pusu ke stesen bas, keretapi atau lapangan kapalterbang. Tindakan terburu-buru oleh kepimpinan beberapa universiti amat dikesali kerana menyebabkan peningkatan risiko jangkitan Covid19 di kalangan para pelajar. Risiko ini kemudiannya meningkat apabila Ketua Polis Negara meminta mereka yang ingin melakukan perjalanan selepas jam 12.00 malam pada 17 Mac perlu ada surat kebenaran polis. Ini telah menyebabkan begitu ramai pelajar menyerbu balai-balai polis untuk mendapatkan surat tersebut.

GERAK amat berdukacita terhadap arahan-arahan yang tidak bernas dan membahayakan keselamatan dan nyawa para pelajar yang telah dikeluarkan pada 17 Mac terutamanya oleh pihak pengurusan universiti. Ianya seakan-akan tidak memikirkan implikasi serius yang bakal menimpa para pelajar dan juga orang ramai.

Kedua, GERAK amat kesal bahawa pihak Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi (KPT) tidak memberikan garis panduan yang jelas untuk mengendali situasi ini. Dalam suasana sebegini, malangnya, kepimpinan tidak menyerlah langsung. Semua ini mencerminkan ketidaksediaan pihak pemimpin atasan – di KPT dan di universiti-universiti – untuk menghadapi bencana dan kegawatan yang sudah timbul.

Seharusnya pihak Kementerian memberi petunjuk atau garis panduan yang jelas dengan mengendahkan seruan pakar perubatan untuk menenangkan suasana, agar pihak pengurusan univesiti dapat memikirkan cara terbaik untuk menangani masalah dan untuk membantu mengendalikan keadaan. Ini tidak berlaku.

Ketiga, GERAK juga berpendapat pihak perwakilan pelajar patut terlibat dalam operasi ini. Dalam keadaan sebegini, pihak universiti dan mahasiswa seharusnya berbincangan untuk kepentingan bersama, bukan hanya memberi arahan berbentuk top-down yang sesungguhnya tidak menyelesaikan masalah. Universiti adalah satu komuniti. Mahasiswa adalah golongan penting dalam komuniti ini; tiada pelajar, tiada Universiti. Mereka juga paling jelas tentang situasi mereka sendiri .

Keempat, pihak kakitangan akademik harus juga memainkan peranan dalam memberi buah fikiran untuk menangani kemelut yang wujud ini demi kepentingan awam dan kesejahteraan penduduk. Perbincangan mengenai langkah-langkah terbaik untuk dilaksanakan juga perlu digalakkan, apakah sekatan penuh, sekatan separa atau usaha mitigasi yang perlu diutamakan dalam menghadapi serangan Covid19? Pihak pengurusan universiti harus menggunakan kepintaran dan kreativiti mereka sendiri. Bukankah universiti diterajui oleh sarjana-sarjana yang disegani?

GERAK mendesak peristiwa yang penuh dengan keliruan dan membahayakan keselamatan para pelajar tidak lagi berulang. Sekarang, setiap universiti patut sudah ada pelan tindakan untuk menyambut balik para pelajarnya setelah tamat Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan. Dalam keadaan sekarang, pihak pemimpin seharusnya mengunakan kepakaran yang sedia ada dan tidak hanya bertindak dalam kegelapan.



EXCO GERAK
+60166205242


22 Mac 2020

11 January 2020

GERAK STATEMENT ON THE SARAWAK-UNIMAS FIASCO

1 January 2020

Academic reform in Sarawak: Is there an issue?

GERAK is dismayed to learn of the resignation of internationally renowned academic Tan Sri Dr Kamal Salih as Chairman of the UNIMAS Board of Directors on 6 January 2020.
Coming almost immediately after his appointment and for the most vexing of reasons, TS Kamal’s resignation does not bode well for tertiary education reforms in Malaysia.
TS Kamal’s resignation is also a double-whammy for reforms since it happened barely days after Dr Maszlee Malik’s resignation as the most reform-minded Minister in the Ministry’s recent history.
This double resignation is a kick in the teeth for the Pakatan Harapan government’s commitment to educational reforms.
Amongst the key tertiary reform priorities of Dr Maszlee when he was Minister of Education was to advance academic freedom and make public higher education institutions – and their managers - more transparent and accountable to the people at large.
TS Kamal was appointed by Dr Maszlee Malik to helm the UNIMAS Board of Directors for three years starting 1 Jan 2020. And evidently he was appointed to advance Dr Maszlee’s vision of academic freedom, public accountability and true intellectual leadership.
Anyone who has seen TS Kamal’s CV will realise that he is no intellectual lightweight or a managerial pushover.
He has a string of academic achievements, is internationally recognised, and set up the highly-reputed International Medical University.
Currently he is Chair of the prestigious and highly-respected Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER).
He is the consummate educational professional who only wanted to contribute his knowledge, expertise and experiences to the country via serving UNIMAS and Sarawak.
Unfortunately, the state government took a petty view of his appointment and voiced exception to the fact that they were not consulted nor was the ‘State Government notified officially’ prior to the announcement of his appointment.
True, this may have always been the ‘process that was adhered to since the appointment of the first Chairman’.
But that was under the previous problematic Barisan Nasional (BN) government - which the current GPS State Government was a staunch coalition partner - that contributed greatly to the current shambolic state of tertiary education in the country.
Today, the GPS State Government is in opposition to the reform-minded PH Federal Government. Also, there is no agreement written in stone about any ‘process’ that obliges the Federal Government to ‘consult’ with the State Government when appointing any Federal Government senior civil servant to lead reforms in a Federal institution in Sarawak.
That the GPS state government saw fit to play up its State Rights vs Federal Government authority only reflects their lack of hesitation in continuing to stir divisive politics merely to advance the electoral prospects of their GPS coalition.
Regrettably, all done at the expense of quality higher education in Sarawak.
Rejecting experience, knowledge and international recognition purely on the basis of this pettiness undermines the reform efforts of the PH Federal government to improve tertiary education in Malaysia and, in this case, Sarawak.
GERAK therefore calls upon the acting Minister, Tun Mahathir, to hold firm to professional reform efforts and to appoint an accomplished academic and internationally-recognised professional to Chair the UNIMAS Board of Directors.
Time is running out for the country to reform its tertiary educational institutions.
Now is not the time for the Federal Government to condone counter-productive political games, or for the Sarawak state government to reject sound professionals from throughout Malaysia to serve in UNIMAS on the basis of divisive political sentiments.
GERAK EXCO
11 January 2020

10 January 2020

Consider This: Education Reform - Policy Continuity or Shift?



http://www.astroawani.com/video-malaysia/consider-education-reform-policy-continuity-or-shift-1827022

The Malaysian Academic Movement (GERAK) has weighed in on the surprise resignation of Education Minister, reminding the public of its own 10-point proposal for reform and even suggesting individuals to replace Maszlee Malik. Melisa Idris and Sharaad Kuttan speak to Zaharom Naim, Chairperson of GERAK for their take on the challenges of education reform.


05 January 2020

Gerak Media Statement on UNIMAP Vice Chancellor's Response to the Ethnic Relations Examination Paper

5 January 2020

GERAK is appalled at the statement  by Dr. R Badlishah Ahmad, the Vice Chancellor of Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UNIMAP) regarding the controversy arising from multiple choice questions set in UNIMAP’s Ethnic Relations examination paper.

GERAK had earlier pointed out that, for an unnecessary question (Q60) set about the Indian preacher-on-the-run, Zakir Naik, both the question and the answers provided were badly and narrowly constructed, and not appropriate for a module that is designed to further inter-ethnic understanding.  Indeed, the opposite was true.

The UNIMAP VC then said an investigation would be conducted.

This latest rambling statement after the `investigation’ ' is nothing but a complete and clumsy of the whole sordid affair.

Let us remember that since that question was exposed, at least another racist and anthropologically ignorant question from the same paper has been unearthed and reported.

This, GERAK believes, is not simply  an `oversight’ or things related to the syllabus. Such `explanations’ are simply untenable.

And the UNIMAP VC surely knows this. If he doesn’t, he needs to be schooled. Or he may volunteer to step down to be replaced by someone who knows what constitutes the public good.

We, unfortunately, are now living within a toxic environment of racial supremacy and religious bigotry. These need to be fought against and greater understanding and respect fostered.

That is the spirit of the Ethnic Relations module. It doesn’t require a PhD or a VC’s position to know that.

Instead, in his statement, the UNIMAP VC conveniently asserts  that the vetting of the questions in the examination paper followed proper procedures, is in line with the syllabus of the module, and that the controversial question was discussed in class.

The fact is, any two-bit lecturer can `discuss in class’, controlling and moving the discussion towards a particular direction and, unsurprisingly, indoctrinating rather than questioning.

In any case, to further muddy the issue, in his statement, the VC says that UNIMAP will in future ensure all multiple choice questions will be restricted to theory and facts only.

This is essentially a stock, evasive statement that is irresponsible and problematic because it does not address the root problem underpinning the controversy, i.e., the blinkered question and narrow range of answers that were provided. This clearly relates to the way this module is being taught.

The VC's statement thus altogether avoids responding to the main issue at hand, i.e. "why were such insulting and stupid questions along with incorrect and restrictive answers allowed in the university exam paper?"

GERAK thus demands  a thorough INDEPENDENT review of the way this Ethnic Relations module is taught at UNIMAP, indeed in all our universities.

Is what is currently being taught in line with the objectives and spirit of the module?

While GERAK respects academic autonomy in the lecture room, such autonomy must be placed within the context of rigorous scholarship that avoids the ideological and cultural biases that were undoubtedly demonstrated in this controversy.

Clearly UNIMAP and other publicly-funded universities need to review their approaches to the  Ethnic Relations module to ensure it fulfils the national agenda of helping students appreciate the cultural diversity that makes up Malaysian society.

And to respect such diversity.

GERAK EXCO

03 January 2020

Gerak media statement on Dr. Maszlee Malik


3 January 2020

GERAK is not a fair weather friend. Hence, we find it sad and extremely unfortunate that the first working day of the new year was marred by the resignation announcement of the most approachable and reformist Education Minister for a long time, Dr Maszlee Malik.

We came out in support of Dr Maszlee when he was first appointed minister and, despite having often been openly critical of some of his decisions, we stand by him at this juncture.

Dr Maszlee, who steps down today (3 Jan), clearly understood the mess Malaysia’s higher education system had been dragged into and the tough decisions that needed to be made.

Ironically, much of the worthwhile strategies and policies he designed or helped to design and implement only at school level are now suddenly being highlighted by the media.

This is the same media that virtually hounded him throughout his short tenure, ridiculing and vilifying him, without bothering to look deeper into what he was doing.

This is the same media – and the vocal pseudo-liberals, the pseudo-progressives, even conservatives – wanting to sensationalise rather than analyse. What strange but convenient bedfellows.

Be that as it may, GERAK’s concern and purpose here is to outline and acknowledge three main initiatives that Dr Maszlee had put in motion for higher education over the past 20 months. And, perhaps, propose the way forward.

First, based on a genuine concern for academic freedom and autonomy, Dr Maszlee set into motion the dismantling of the much-criticised and abused University and University Colleges Act (UUCA).

Having quickly plucked the low-hanging fruit in the Act – hence allowing undergraduates to formally discuss politics on campuses – Maszlee then set up a multi-stakeholder technical committee. Together with independent outside consultants the committee has been hard at work to repeal the UUCA and also Act 605. A repeal is being targeted for later this year.

Many outside academia are unaware that Act 605 is the main act that virtually muzzles Malaysian academics. Under the Act, university academics even need permission to praise the government!

Second, under his tenure a new, independent committee for the selection of public university Vice Chancellors was set up in mid-2019.

This is in line with GERAK’s call for the abolishment of political appointments of top university posts and the implementation of independent selection procedures.

As expected, this has not gone smoothly, largely due to resistance by the incumbents, who have used the old standard practice of garnering the support of powerful individuals and institutions outside academia.

Nonetheless, the procedures have been put in place to replace these old, politically-linked and feudal ways. It is now up to all parties concerned to make sure the system works for the betterment of Malaysian public universities.

Third, Dr Maszlee also set up an independent Integrity Committee, outside the confines and possible constraints of the Ministry, to investigate cases of fraud and malpractices within universities.

It is never easy to conduct such investigations, since, more often than not, complaints and allegations need to be backed with solid evidence.

And, given the nature of previously-BN controlled institutions, deep-rooted, bad habits and practices are difficult to unravel, let alone destroy.

Such, indeed, has been the case with all these three initiatives begun by Dr Maszlee.

It is easy to vilify the individual without having much information. It is equally easy to blame the individual, without looking at the existing system and the foot-dragging and other forms of resistance employed by those not happy with reforms.

Dr Maszlee, we believe was trust into an extremely visible and demanding ministry. He was virtually caught between a rock and a hard place, torn between a desire for reform and the narrower political demands of the party.

But for what he’s done despite this, GERAK offers our thanks.

That having been said, in looking ahead, GERAK proposes three possibilities for higher education in Malaysia.

First, the formal splitting up of the Ministry into two ministries; a Ministry for non-tertiary education, formulating strategies and policies for education from the nursery to secondary school levels.

And a separate ministry for tertiary education. Here a ministerial position for Dr Maszlee could be possible, indeed advantageous, given the initiatives he had begun during his tenure.

Modern formal education is too complex and complicated to be lumped together under one ministry.

Second, GERAK believes the depoliticisation of education is necessary, to make us more equipped to face a fast changing, challenging world.

Hence, while many are clamouring for the appointment of faded and fake degree politicians as the next Education Minister, GERAK would propose just two names – K.S. Jomo and Sham Sani.

Both are intellectual giants who have had vast experience in academia. Both, we are confident, can remove deadwood and political and religious lackeys and bring forth genuine reform.

Third, that whoever takes over as the next minister looks seriously at GERAK’s original 10-point proposal for reform and continues with the process that Dr Maszlee had started.

GERAK EXCO

31 December 2019

HE Malaysian Academic Movement (Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia, or Gerak) views with deep concern the action of the police in summoning Mohd Akmal Haziq, University Malaya student and UM Student Representative Council president, to the Pantai police station in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 25.

Read here for the rest of the statement:

https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/letters/2019/12/30/long-way-from-greater-freedom-on-university-campuses