Corporate figures should not sit on varsity boards

Francis Paul Siah

Modified 13 Nov 2018, 8:33 am

COMMENT | Newly minted Education Minister Maszlee Malik couldn’t have said it better when he terminated the services of the chairpersons and directors of the boards of several public universities.

“Their removal was made to replace the high-ranking officials who cannot spur change alongside with the new government. The move was to ensure that the reformation process of institutions by Pakatan Harapan will not be disrupted.

“We need to replace them with new faces that have fresh ideas. Not only at public universities, but changes also have taken place at GLCs. We need to act fast and get on with the job entrusted by the people,” Maszlee said when he announced the sweeping changes in late July, barely three months after taking office as the minister of education.

Maszlee was quick to act, just as most of his newly appointed cabinet colleagues have done so. They took the cue from Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s lament that he could not trust many officers from the previous BN regime as “they were found to be still loyal to the BN”.

Mahathir had also revealed soon after he took office following Harapan’s victory in the May 9 general election that there was “incitement” from outside sources, making it difficult for him to trust civil servants, including some at the top of the chain.

Indeed, this is the perfect time for the new Mahathir administration to downsize the bloated civil service.

It’s also time to stop pussy-footing around. Everyone knows that the civil service is grossly bloated because it was used as an employment scheme for many non-employable bumiputeras.

There was a suggestion to get rid of at least 200,000 civil servants because of their unsuitability to hold their positions as they were untrained in the first place. The 200,000 civil servants have to be retired off over the next two to three years before the government starts hiring again.

This will be a gigantic task for the new Harapan government as the civil service is one big mess to clean up. But they must do the job as expected of them. There should be no room for rent-seekers in the new Malaysian civil service.

Let’s take a closer look at the education sector, which is one of the most important as education gives everyone that vital start in life. Education gives us a knowledge of the world around us and changes it into something better. It develops in us a perspective of looking at life. It helps our children build opinions and have points of view on things in life. Education is the oxygen we need to survive in this world and it has no limit.

Maszlee must be aware of the adage that “the fish starts rotting from the head” and he has set out to clean the mess at the very top – the public universities. The heads of almost all our public varsities have started rolling - and rightly so, too.

Those whose services have been terminated were Universiti Malaysia Sabah’s Zaki Azmi, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn’s Sufri Mohd Zin, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin’s Dr Kamaruddin Hussin, Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Noorul Ainur Mohd Noor, Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Anuwar Ali and Universiti Malaya’s board chairman Prof Emeritus Zakri Abdul Hamid and two of its directors, Mohamad Othman Zainal Azim and Lim Wee Chai. All have their services terminated prior to the completion of their terms, according to media reports...

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