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Friday, February 26, 2010

Ensure all universities attain international standard

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw reiterates that the Government should ensure that all universities including polytechnic universities attain international standard.

On 26.2.2010, Dr Tan comments on the Government's intention to turn three polytechnics into universities in five years as mentioned by the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khalid Nordin yesterday.

Having more universities with world standard is good for the country. We have 20 public universities and about 40 private universities. We hope that the 20 public universities will achieve higher standard. Hitherto, none of our univerisities are in the top 100 of the world, let alone in the top 50 or even top 20. Granted the criteria used to assess universities such as those by The Times of UK and Shanghai Transport University vary. These may not be perfect. But, they can be used as rough yardsticks.

We have 27 polytechnics with full-time students of 86,000. The three to be elevated to universities are Politeknik Sultan Salahuhuddin Abdul Aziz Shah in Selangor, Politeknik Ungku Omar in Perak and Politeknik Johor Baru. These polytechnics play an important part in vocational courses, serving the need of the society.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin launched the Transformation of Polytechnics programme yesterday, saying that the elevation of these institutions to universities was to attract students with good grades to do degree courses.

It is reasonable to encourage stduents in polytechnics to advance themselves. It is true that for years other countries have been offering such courses to their students.

Datuk Seri Khalid, who accompanied Muhyiddin at the launch, believes that for our country’s new economic model, we need manpower specialised in new areas, saying that the transformation plan would change the way people viewed polytechnics. He hoped that this would lead to at least 34 per cent of polytechnic students holding master’s degrees or PhDs.

We would like Muhyiddin and Khalid to let us know how these polytechnic universities will be funded. For example, this year the budget allocation for the 20 public universities is RM13 billion. This is scarcely enough to ensure that these universities improve their standard in all aspects.

It is still not possible to compare our university budget with that of, say, Harvard University, whose annual budget may be more than RM13 billion. Nevertheless, Malaysia's allocation for education is RM30.5 billion, plus higher eduction RM13 billion, totalling RM43.5 billion in a budget of RM191.5 billion. This is impressive. Let us have no wastage.

Besides twinning with local and foreign universities, what will the strategy be to make polytechnic universities reach world standard?

Dr Tan Seng Giaw

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy New Year.

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong wish all people Happy New Year.

Let those things which were not so good during the Year of the Ox go away. Instead, we usher in a good and happy Year of the Tiger.

Let us have a new start in all fields including education.

Dr Tan Seng Giaw

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Need interfaith dialogues

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw reiterates that we need interfaith dialogues to promote understanding and respect for all religions.

For example, all great religions have universal values. Religious holy books say that every matter or issue has many faces or aspects. The issue of the use of the word Allah has many aspects.

Dr Tan spoke briefly at the Interfaith Dialogue at The Club, Bukit Utama Golf Course, on 10 Feruary, 2010. There were representatives from Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism at the dialogue. It was historic.

(On 31 January, 2010, YB Lim Kit Siang brought up again the need to have Interfaith dialogues. YB Anwar Ibrahim (Chairperson) and YB Hadi Awang and all present at the Pakatan Rakyat meeting at the PKR Headquarters at Tropicana City, Petaling Jaya, agreed that a dialogue be held on 10 Fruary, 2010.)

I have copies of the Al Quran, interpreted in Bahasa Malaysia and Jawi, the Bible, the Al Kitab, Prejanjian Baru (the New Terstament), the Dhammapada and the Bhagavad Gita. I have yet to get a copy of the Grand Sahib.

In 1981, Tun Mahathir's Government banned Al Kitab, the Bible in Bahasa Indonesia, in which God is translated as Allah. In 1982, I brought Al Kitab into the House and quoted the Quran such as Surah Al Bakarah. Some members were pleased and some were angry. Because of protests, the then Deputy Prime Minister (now Tun Musa Hitam) stood up to advise me to stop.

In 1987, a few were invited to the University of Kamunting. During the first 60 days of solitary confinement, I asked for the Bible, the Dhammapada and the Quran. The Bible came first, then the Dhammapada, but not the Quran.

Have things changed? We hope.

All are great religions: Islam is great. Buddhism is great. Christianity is great. Hinduism is great and Sikhism is great. All have universal values. All the holy books say that things have more than two faces, facets or aspects.

If there are interfaith dialogues, people of different faiths have opportunities to exchange views and to reduce misunderstandings. These are more likely to help in preventing such controversies as the use of Allah in Bahasa Malaysia writings. (The Catholic weekly, Herald, was banned from using Allah. The High Court judged that it could, followed by a series of firebomb attacks on churches, mosques and a Sikh temple.)

(Apparently, in 1631, the Malay-Latin dictionary in the Peninsula denoted God as Allah or Tuan. In 1670 dictionary, the translator mistook Tuan as Tuhan.)

Dr Tan Seng Giaw