Budget that braces for tough times


Broad measures spelt out under Budget 2020 will likely sustain the economy, if there is no further escalation in trade fights.

A glimmer of hope emerged after the US outlined the first phase of a deal to settle some issues related to trade, but there is a lingering suspicion that China could be just buying time as it will most likely not concede to any loss of sovereignty.

China is developing its own ecosystem that could be “outside the reach” of the US, and it is possible that the time bought with such rearguard actions may allow China to achieve its aims.

Malaysia, a trade dependent economy, can only hope that it all works out well, if it can integrate into both ecosystems, said Inter-Pacific Securities head of research Pong Teng Siew.

More stimulus measures would be undertaken should the global economy worsen and in the worst case scenario, Malaysia would have room to spend more if it increases the budget deficit, currently at 3.2% of the gross domestic product (GDP).

The worry is that a further deterioration in global trade tensions may push the global economy into recession. If that does not happen, these Budget 2020 measures should be able to sustain the economy, according to RHB Research Institute chief Asean economist Peck Boon Soon.

Given the external headwinds that continue to pose more downside risks, it looks like Budget 2020, which attempts to spread out its positive effects, has been designed to brace for rough times.

Some positive impetus could be derived from measures to support tourism, construction and infrastructure, as well as small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs), said AmBank Research head Anthony Dass.

Tourism-related businesses such as food and beverage, accommodation, travel and transport, shopping and entertainment will likely benefit.

Recognising the importance of SMEs in driving growth, a string of measures to facilitate their financing needs, ease of doing business, faster adoption of high technology and green initiatives, should also bode well.

The bottomline is that resources are limited while the government still aims for fiscal consolidation and repayment of all debts.

Spreading out these scarce resources will probably succeed in paring off any broad-based slowdown, but it will be hard to make a dent when the sense of a loss in economic momentum is gradually settling in, said Pong.

More measures are required to stimulate the economy but in view of the gloomy global outlook and domestic issues, it is still overall, a good budget.

However, the allocation between capital and operating expenditure is still imbalanced; there is too little capital expenditure and there appears to be ‘little effort’ to reduce operating expenditure.

This will have a long term effect, especially in an aging society, according to Areca Capital CEO Danny Wong. In view of concerns over the lack of investments and falling revenue, efforts to boost foreign direct investments and tourism are welcome but more robust steps are required.

A correction in property prices may be a remedy for the overhang and inaffordability issues especially among young people.

The budget tries to forestall a price pullback, which would affect developers stuck with high land prices, by allowing foreigners to fill the demand gap.

But demand has evaporated, partly caused by the migration of mid-level talent and delays in household formation, the driver of long term demand and new home construction. Developers, lulled by the padding of demand through low interest rates for borrowers, high financing margins and easy access to debts, find it hard to lower prices.

They had thought the elevated level of demand was sustainable but it was not. Reduced prices may mean less profits but possibly a lifeline by way of cashflows, and may help restore delays in household formation and loss of talent, said Pong.

A worrying trend is that more and more young Malaysians are moving out of the country in search of jobs.Even mid-level expertise and talent is migrating; previously, it was mostly those who were highly mobile internationally.

A major cause is the lack of growth in real purchasing power.

Is the projected GDP growth of 4.8% achievable?

With the government continuing its spending and development initiatives, growth should remain robust, supported by services and construction, higher production from agriculture and mining. But manufacturing is expected to moderate.

Malaysia can achieve its 4.8% growth target, said Hong Leong Bank chief operating operating officer, global markets, Hor Kwok Wai.

However, in view of slower world GDP growth of 2.8%, AmBank Research expects growth of 4.0% with an upside of 4.3% for Malaysia.

Coming up with a further set of stimulus, should things worsen, may be a challenge.

Columnist Yap Leng Kuen is watchful of the tech war. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

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‘Budget 2020 favours the rich’

 

 


Budget 2020 is a capitalist budget that neglects the poor, says …

 

 

Viewing trade talks progress with rationality, calmness

Ending the trade war benefits whole world

Both China and the US still have resources to sustain a  trade war, but further consumption of those resources is unnecessary  since their goals have proved naive and absurd. The situation is still highly uncertain, but the historical indicators will gradually be corrected. China and the US will not get lost and the world will benefit from the implementation of the consensus reached by the two heads of state, assuming the responsibility to both countries and the world and moving steadily towards the final end of the trade war in stages.

 

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NO POWER, NO FORCE CAN STOP THE PROGRESS OF THE CHINESE PEOPLE AND NATION


https://youtu.be/Uv0PeiGWJyg

Xi addresses grand rally to celebrate PRC’s 70th founding anniversary

DF 17, DF 100 & DF 41 make debuts at National Day parade

The Strategic Attack Formation is one of the most anticipated parts of Tuesday’s military parade, as the DF-17, CJ-100, and DF-41 missiles made their first appearances. DF-17 conventional missiles are used for precision strikes against medium-and-close targets. The hypersonic CJ-100, on the other hand, is the latest cruise missile of the CJ family, and can strike long-range targets. Lastly, the DF-41 has gained worldwide attention. The purpose of the DF-41 intercontinental strategic nuclear missile is for balancing power and securing victory. Other equipment being showcased includes the second-generation JL-2 long-range ballistic missiles, solid-fuel DF-31 nuclear missiles and DF-5B nuclear missiles, which can carry multiple warheads and excel at both assault and defense. #70YearsOn #NationalDay2019 #PRC70

New Aircrafts Make Debut at China’s National Day Parade

https://youtu.be/NxwEB7CYVtE >
China’s new-generation main battlefield tanks reviewed in National Day parade https://youtu.be/SdI90NK2ntg

Marking 70 years of greatness

15 military units march in China’s largest National Day parade

This is how we welcome China’s 70th birthday

The moments that matter to modern China: Beijing and beyond 5/5

Perception vs reality as New China turns 70


China’s 70th National Day: No force can stop country’s progress, says Xi Jinping

BEIJING – China held its largest display of military force with a parade along its main Chang’an Avenue as the nation celebrated 70 years of communist rule.

Under hazy skies on Tuesday morning (Oct 1), President Xi Jinping, in a Mao suit and flanked by his two precedessors, former presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, appeared on Tiananmen, or Gate of Heavenly Peace.

Addressing the nation, President Xi spoke of how Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong had stood in the same spot 70 years ago and declared the founding of the People’s Republic of China, paving the way for the country to embark on the path of the “great rejuvenation” of China.

“No power can shake the status of our great motherland, no force can stop the progress of the Chinese people and nation,” he said, to cheers from the thousands of flag-waving Chinese who had gathered at Tiananmen Square.

An aerial display welcomed by wild cheers from the audience
Unlisted

Mr Xi urged loyalty to the Communist Party’s leadership and again vowed that Beijing will abide by the “one country, two systems”  model to ensure Hong Kong and Macau’s continued prosperity, as well as promote the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.

“Yesterday’s China has been written into the history books. Today’s China is being created by more than one billion people. Tomorrow’s China will be even better,” he said, urging unity and the fulfilment of the two centennial goals.

The Chinese leader had vowed to restore the country to greatness – by making China a “moderately prosperous society” by 2021, and for it to become a “fully developed, rich and powerful nation” by 2049.

These two centennial goals – 2021 marks 100 years since the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and 2049, the centenary of the founding of PRC – have been Mr Xi’s overarching vision since he took power in 2012.

The celebrations on Tuesday culminate in a gala show in the evening complete with fireworks.

The display of China’s military might in the morning was a picture of pride for the Chinese audience.

“I had taken taken part in one of the dress rehearsals for the parade and even then it was a stirring sight to see the Chinese military. Today’s atmosphere feels even better,” said civil servant Li Yidong, 27, adding that the showcase “is also a window to show the world China’s national power”.

Mr Li Xuguang, 29, who works in the security industry, said he was already very excited when planes flew past his home during the parade in 2015 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

“Watching them today is even better,” said Mr Li.

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Daxing International Airport opens in Beijing, Awards to celebrate PRC 70th anniversary


Beijing’s new mega airport opens today. Daxing International Airport is the second airport in the capital and will likely ease congestion at Beijing Capital International Airport

Building China’s $12BN Mega Airport

No stranger to record-breaking projects, China has now completed one of
the largest airports ever conceived – the USD $12BN Daxing International
in Beijing.

 

China opens new Beijing airport ahead of 70th PRC’s anniversary

In this image made from CCTV video taken Sept. 17, 2019, an aerial view is seen of the new Beijing Daxing International Airport. The Chinese capital, Beijing, has opened a second international airport with a  terminal billed as the world’s biggest. (CCTV via AP)

BEIJING (AP) — President Xi Jinping on Wednesday inaugurated a second international airport for the Chinese capital with the world’s biggest terminal ahead of celebrations of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Beijing Daxing International Airport is designed to handle 72 million passengers a year. Located on the capital’s south side, it was built in less than five years at a cost of 120 billion yuan ($17 billion).

The airline’s first commercial flight, a China Southern Airlines plane bound for the southern province of Guangdong, took off Wednesday afternoon, state broadcaster CCTV reported. Six more flights took off later for Shanghai and other destinations.

The main Beijing airport, located in the city’s northeast, is the world’s second-busiest after Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and is nearing capacity.

Daxing, designed by the late Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, includes a terminal billed as the world’s biggest at 1 million square meters (11 million square feet).

Despite that, its builders say travelers will need to walk no more than 600 meters (2,000 feet) to reach any boarding gate.

The vast, star-shaped airport is about 45 kilometers (30 miles) south of downtown Beijing. It has four runways, with plans for as many as three more.

Carriers including British Airways and state-owned China Southern, the country’s biggest airline by passengers, plan to move to Daxing from Beijing Capital International Airport.

The capital has a third airport, Nanyuan, for domestic flights, but the government says that will close once Daxing is in operation.

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Live: National awards ceremony to celebrate PRC 70th anniversary国家勋章和国家荣誉称号颁授仪式

Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a presidential decree on September 17 to award 42 Chinese and foreign individuals with national medals and honorary titles. The awards come as the People’s Republic of China prepares to celebrate its 70th founding anniversary on October 1

Forty-two people were awarded national medals and honorary titles by
Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
on September 29.

Thai princess speaks on behalf of China’s Medal of Friendship recipients

Hong Kong’s youngters barking up at the wrong tree: preaching the West’s cheats, divide-and-conquer, farce hearing !


Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong testifies at a hearing of the US Congressional Executive Commission on China entitled “Hong Kong’s Summer of Discontent and U.S. Policy.”


 

Hong Kong: Police crackdown on protest activist Joshua Wong

Farce hearing shows US hypocrisy

Radical Hong Kong oppositionists Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Denise Ho Wan-see on Tuesday were invited to testify at a US congressional hearing about the Hong Kong issues. Wong and Ho described Hong Kong as a city which has lost freedom under the suppression of the Communist Party of China. The hearing was full of biased information and lies.

The hearing itself humiliated US congressional hearing system. The US Congress invited only Hong Kong’s radical opposition figures but ignored the opinion of Hongkongers who support both the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government’s lawful measures and the Hong Kong police’s efforts to counter riots in accordance with laws. The US Congress didn’t even pretend to make the hearing look more credible.

US senators who proposed the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 have never thought about getting comprehensive, objective and real information about Hong Kong. The hearing they held didn’t aim at verifying the situation in Hong Kong, but intended to use biased information to back their bill that hurts Hongkongers’ interests.

The SAR government has officially withdrawn the extradition bill, but the opposition has extended their demands to so-called real universal suffrage. A few rioters continued to wreck havoc in Hong Kong. In such a context, the US Congress not only sided with the opposition in Hong Kong but also offered support to the extreme rioters.

Although Hong Kong society is split in public opinion, only a minority of Hongkongers would support the passing of the act. The act requires an annual assessment of the special status of Hong Kong as a separate customs territory, which will severely threaten the stability of the city’s financial environment, and thus hurt the interests of the majority of Hongkongers. This has nothing to do with the political appeals of Hong Kong citizens.

Neither Wong nor Ho can represent the majority of Hong Kong people. Oppositionists like them collude with a handful of US senators and forge a fake public opinion of Hongkongers. Such a fraud in the US political system will only stain the US Congress rather than bring it glory.

The farce of the congressional hearing showed that the Hong Kong act proposed by the US Congress cannot reflect the reality of the Chinese city. It is a perfect match between the US current strategy against China and the interests of the extreme opposition of Hong Kong. It aims at offering a new tool to contain China.

Some Hong Kong extremists are determined to take sides with the US and will not hesitate to betray their own city’s interests.

The Hong Kong act could pass as some US political elites are promoting it, and some extreme Hong Kong opposition are collaborating from within. But the situation will not necessarily develop as the two forces wish. The future of Hong Kong is not in the hands of Washington, but in the hands of all the Chinese people, including Hongkongers.

Hong Kong’s separate customs territory status is guaranteed by the Basic Law. The US move cannot represent the entire world. The impetus of the city’s constant prosperity comes from within and from its close ties with the motherland.

The US economic crackdown has not shaken China, nor will it determine the future of Hong Kong. Anyone who misunderstands this misunderstands the era and the world.

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Malaysian talent lost due to racial bigotry


Leng Siew Yeap

Leng Siew Yeap, a Malaysian, a graduate of UMS applied for a scholarship to do a doctorate degree but was refused outright by the local govt.

She was however offered scholarships by University of Edinburgh, London University and Cambridge University. She chose Cambridge University’s Dorothy Hodgkin postgraduate award to study stem cell.

On graduation she accepted the offer from Harvard to study human immunology. She is now working in research for a Shanghai university hospital.

She has successfully helped to create an method/procedure 4 the body to secrete
an antibody to fight HIV. She is now married to a Shanghai citizen, living and working in Shanghai. She and her achievements are never mentioned in any Malaysia newspaper.

View Full Profile – Shanghai Institute of Immunology

 

 

Shanghai Institute of Immunology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University
School of Medicine, China.
Research Interests

Our body is constantly attacked by pathogens. To fight against various pathogens, B cells produce a large antibody repertoire through different processes that involve genomic DNA alterations. During B cell development, a DNA cut and paste mechanism called V(D)J recombination generates a primary antibody repertoire by producing V(D)J exons that
are made up of combinations of different V, D and J segments. Upon activation by pathogens, mature B cells undergo secondary antibody diversification, whereby Somatic Hypermutation (SHM) generates antibodies with higher affinity, while Class Switch Recombination (CSR) generates antibodies with different effector functions. In theory, our body has the capability to generate all necessary antibodies to fight against different pathogens through antibody diversification mechanisms. However, this is not the case. For example, in certain infectious diseases such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection/ acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), only a small percentage of the infected patients were able to produce effective antibodies. Our research aims
to elucidate molecular mechanisms that facilitate approaches in generating highly effective antibodies to fight pathogens and infectious diseases. We employ various approaches including mouse models, cell line systems, CRISPR-mediated genome editing and next-generation sequencing technologies (Yeap et al., Cell, 2015, Figure below) to address our aims.

 

 

Top Malaysian researcher working to wipe out infectious diseases

Dr Yeap heads the antibody diversification team at Shanghai Institute of Immunology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, China.

LIKE many of her peers, Dr Yeap Leng Siew, 39, was raised believing that noble careers only include doctors and lawyers.

So when the Selangorian failed to enter medical school because she didn’t get straight As in the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM), her childhood ambition of becoming a doctor came crashing down.

She was upset for awhile but remembered that as a secondary school girl, she had done well in Biology.

It encouraged her to take up Biotechnology at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).

“I passed with flying colors and was the best student at university. If I hadn’t been rejected to do medicine, I wouldn’t have the career that I now enjoy. It was a blessing in disguise.”

Now married to a Chinese national and living in Shanghai, the mother-of-two graduated with first class honours from UMS in 2003, and received the Royal Educational Award and Tunku Abdul Rahman Medal. These awards recognise the country’s best student from each public university. After graduation, she was still unsure about her career path until a research stint at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) sparked her interest in cell biology.

She went on to do her doctorate in stem cell biology at the University of Cambridge, before continuing as a Harvard Medical School postdoctoral fellow at the Boston Children’s Hospital.

“Initially I wanted to do a Ph.D in Singapore but my GRE score (a US-based graduate entrance exam) was not great.”

Though she did not receive any offers during the first round of application, she was determined to pursue a Ph.D degree.

“People are bitter about rejections because they do not have backup plans. Prof Bing Lim, my supervisor at GIS, once told me to be open-minded because a narrow mind narrows potential. His words were etched in my heart ever since.”

She was later granted the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Dorothy Hodgkin Postgraduate Award – a full scholarship for outstanding students from developing countries to pursue a Ph.D degree at the University of Cambridge.

She continued to make her mark when she was awarded the St Catharine’s College Graduate Prize for Distinction in Research during her stint in Cambridge. She then went on to receive the prestigious Cancer Research Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship in the United States.

Disappointment, she said, is part of life.

“It is how we overcome disappointments and take up challenges that distinguishes us from the rest.”

The former research assistant at GIS now heads the antibody diversification team at Shanghai Institute of Immunology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, China.

“Prof Huck Hui Ng from GIS once told me, ‘work hard, and the sky is the limit’. I now tell my students those very same words.”

In 2017, Yeap was selected by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) to receive the Excellent Young Scientist Fund, which is aimed at nurturing young talents with innovative potential.

She speaks to StarEdu about her work and advises young science students to expand their horizon. The world doesn’t end just because you didn’t get into medical school. There are many opportunities for those interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

> What is your area of research?I am interested in understanding why some people develop effective antibodies to fight diseases while others do not. For example, only a small percentage of HIV-1 infected patients develop potent antibodies against the virus, which is why this remains a major health problem globally. Another example is how despite being vaccinated for the flu or hepatitis B (HBV), some do not develop protective antibodies and are still susceptible to these illnesses. My research group is studying how the antibodies acquire high levels of mutations and other special characteristics. Understanding how these rare antibodies develop will shed light on developing HIV or new vaccines for the flu or HBV.

> How long have you been away from home? Sixteen years. During the final semester of my undergraduate studies, I did a 10-week research attachment at the National Cancer Centre of Singapore. It was a time when biological research was just starting to bloom there. I was very fortunate not to be sent home because of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, and even luckier, because I landed my first job as a research assistant at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS).

Seeing that I graduated from a university that didn’t even exist when he left his hometown, Kota Kinabalu, my supervisor at GIS, Dr Bing Lim, decided to hire me. He has been a great mentor ever since. In his laboratory, we were trying to culture human stem cells and I was fascinated by the idea that these cells may be turned into any type of cells for therapeutic purposes.

I realised then that I would have to pursue a Ph.D degree if I want to move further along in my research career. Two years later, I moved to the United Kingdom to begin my postgraduate studies in the lab of Prof Azim Surani at the University of Cambridge. When I completed my doctorate, my parents were expecting me to come home. So when I told them that I had planned on continuing my postdoctoral training in the United States, they were shocked. It took a while to convince them that a Ph.D degree is just the beginning of a career in research and that to have a chance of running my own laboratory one day, I would have to undergo a postdoctoral training as well.

In 2010, I started my postdoctoral training in the laboratory of a top immunologist, Dr Fred Alt at Harvard Medical School. During the five years of postdoctoral training, I met my husband and gave birth to my first child.

In 2015, we decided to move closer to home to start our career as independent researchers.

> What is it about home you miss the most?The food definitely – nasi lemak, durian, and my mum’s cooking.

> You helped find a way for the body to fight HIV. Tell us about that breakthrough.During my postdoctoral training, I developed mouse models to study how different antibody genes undergo mutation. We found that certain DNA sequences are more prone to mutations and that the same DNA sequences are also prone to deletions, another common characteristic of anti-HIV broadly neutralising antibodies.

These results suggest that DNA sequence direct the evolution of antibodies and these results were published in Cell in 2015, a top journal in the biological field. In 2017, we published in Proceedings of National Academy of Science on a related work where we analysed a mouse model carrying a human antibody gene and found that many mutations in anti-HIV antibodies are not easily achieved. Understanding how our bodies are able to elicit these rare antibodies will help in vaccine design strategies.

> What are you currently working on?We are continuously trying to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying highly effective antibody generation and developing approaches to guide our bodies to produce such antibodies during infection. We use animal models, cutting-edge gene editing techniques and next generation DNA sequencing in our research. We hope to one day wipe out infectious diseases like HIV.

> Are there any plans to work with other Malaysian researchers moving forward?We are constantly reaching out to researchers from all over the world, and Malaysia is definitely a priority. On Aug 9, I was in Malaysia with a delegation headed by Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine chancellor Prof Guoqiang Chen, and Shanghai Institute of Immunology director Prof Bing Su, to promote collaborations with Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Medicine. We also visited the International Medical University (IMU).

With the Chinese government’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, there are plenty of funding opportunities for academic exchanges and scholarships for graduate studies. Hopefully, more people will come to know about research and academic opportunities in our school.

I have been exposed to different research environments in top laboratories and research institutes around the world, and the current biomedical research environment in Shanghai and other major cities in China, is definitely on par with the places that I have been to.

>What is the most challenging aspect of working in a lab?As an independent researcher, my job is to design and supervise experiments, analyse the results with my students and postdocs, and write manuscripts for publications. I also have to make sure that the lab has enough funding to do research.

Some of the challenging aspects include dealing with failed experiments, manuscripts and grants being rejected, and harsh criticisms by peers. But the satisfaction in being the first in the world to discover something new and potentially textbook-changing, makes all the hard work worthwhile.

> What qualities would a young, aspiring researcher need?Passion, persistence and determination. In the labs I’ve been to, I’ve seen college or even high school students doing research internships during school holidays. These kinds of opportunities allow students to experience the laboratory culture and life as a researcher. Being exposed to different career options at an early stage allows students to make better career choices and develop greater potential. I hope young Malaysians can be more pro-active and seek out such opportunities to enrich themselves in their spare time. I didn’t know there was such a possibility when I was in school.-Source link

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Malaysia’s Public Universities Falling Behind


Malaysian public universities’ worst nightmare is beginning, with local private universities rapidly rising and making their presence felt in university rankings.

The respected World University Rankings now places Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) as the country’s second-best university just behind its oldest public university, University Malaya (UM). QS International University Rankings this year placed the private UCSI University sixth and Taylors University eighth. Other rankings mention Swinburne University of Technology, International Medical University, HELP University, and Sunway University among others as being in Malaysia’s top 10.

Malaysian public universities and the Ministry of Education have been fixated on rankings for many years. Ang small rise in any ranking is extolled by the media. Malaysia even has its own domestic ranking system SETARA, but this is not without criticisms. In 2017, the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) gave eight universities the highest ranking of six stars and 21 the second highest ranking of five, indicating there is not much room for these universities to improve.

This nonsensical ranking system ignores the wide gulf between Malaysian universities and universities in the rest of the world.

What is hindering Malaysian public universities from achieving their full potential? It seems to be their sense of purpose.

University mission statements are public pronouncements of the institution’s purpose, ambition, and values.The general mission statements of the country’s public universities state the prime purpose as producing graduates who will be skilled and highly sought after employees of industry. This is a mechanistic, utilitarian approach, a discourse that is purely industrial and regimented.

What is absent is the desire to assemble a diverse intellectual community and pursue knowledge and education for the betterment of the individual and society — something more holistic than the narrow education path extolled in these outmoded mission statements.

Many graduate qualifications don’t match the country’s needs. There is a large surplus of graduates with technical degrees that can’t be absorbed into the workforce. Graduate unemployment was 9.6 percent or 204,000 at the end of 2108.

These mismatches and surpluses are the result of the insistence of central control by the Ministry of Education. There is lack of autonomy in public universities about what courses can be taught. The Ministry of Education operates like a ministry would in the Soviet Union during the 1950s.


The Malay Agenda

Malaysia’s public universities are an instrument of the government of the day.

One vice chancellor told Asia Sentinel that an important covert role of public universities is to pursue the “Malay Agenda.” This is reflected in the ethnic mix of academic, administration, security, and maintenance staff, and the high percentage of Malays in university student populations. Public universities prefer to employ foreign Muslim academic staff from India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Iraq, rather than Malaysian citizens who are of Chinese or Indian origin. Most, if not nearly all office holders at public universities are Malay. Administration staff numbers tend to be bloated and inefficient due to lenient work procedures compared to their private counterparts.

Public universities are Malay bastions. They have become enclaves not demographically representative of the communities they serve. Organization is extremely hierarchical and authoritarian. Expertise is recognised through position and not knowledge. This creates a master-servant, rather than collegiate culture within faculties and administrative departments. In such environments, nepotism over powers meritocracy. Thus, there is little positive within these environments for people with fresh ideas and constructive criticisms. People who question and try to improve things usually don’t last long.

What is holding public universities back is the Malay Agenda, which is not conducive with diversity, critical thinking or intellectualism.


The Islamic Agenda

The appointment of Maszlee Malik as the Minister of Education has exacerbated the furtherance of an Islamic agenda in public universities. This is not in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education) or an edict approved by Federal Cabinet. It’s not part of the Pakatan Harapan election manifesto. Malaysian universities are being reformed in Maszlee’s vision rather than the national policy. The minister’s infusion into public universities of his Islamic vision is not the moderate, tolerant and accommodating Islam that Malays have practiced for hundreds of years but a Salafi-Wahabism slant that demands conformity and strict adherence.

This form of environment within public universities runs against the principle of diversity, free expression, critical thinking and creativity. The resulting organizational culture is an authoritarian environment that frowns upon freedom of expression of different ideas and diversity.

Malaysia is now witnessing the opening of a fissure into two completely different philosophies of higher education. On one side are the public universities with a structure and culture purporting to produce industrial fodder, and on the other side a private higher education sector made up of domestic private universities and Malaysian campuses of foreign universities which are beginning to emerge and being recognized in international rankings. One side carries the “Malay-Islamic” agenda of exclusion and the other, the pursuit of meritocracy.


Pursuing Change

The flaws within the public university system need to be firstly publicly acknowledged, then corrected. To date, the government has never conceded that it is pursuing the “Malay Agenda” in public universities. This is the subliminal agenda that is preventing any meaningful change and turning universities inward into their own introspection. Public universities can’t be changed without changing the intentions of the top echelon of government.

The first question is whether public universities should be pursuing Malay-Islamic agenda, or pursuing excellence in education and learning? This is where the reform process must begin.

The second question is whether public universities should follow the mechanistic development agenda or regenerate into something else? This question requires much informed discussion with various stakeholders.

This demands honest discussion. If the government wants to maintain the Malay-Islamic agenda in public universities, just say so and don’t waste time preparing policy blueprints which state otherwise. No change here and the rest is a waste of time.

If the first two questions are resolved, then a third question needs consideration. How can Malaysia’s public universities be fixed?

This has to start at the top. Before any reforms can be made, the culture within universities requires change. There are a number of prerequisites to achieving a positive culture change.

1.Public universities must be truly independent, autonomous, and transparent. A supreme body governing the university, a university council made up of the vice chancellor, deputies, deans, representatives from academic staff, administration staff, students, industry, community, and education should replace university board of directors. This means getting rid of all the deadweight and political crony appointees and replacing them with a committed governance group representing all stakeholders.

2.The university councils should appoint vice chancellors without any interference from the minister. This process should take place without fear or favour, purely on merit. The office holders shouldn’t be restricted to Malaysian citizens. The world should be scoured for the best people with experience in excellent universities to steer Malaysian universities into a new era.

3.Academic and administration staff need to reflect the population demographics of the country. Faculties need diversity, knowledge, experience, and know how. The apartheid approach needs to be ended at universities. The private universities are a  good example of what happens when diversity exists within academic staff. Rankings are quickly reflecting this.

4.The organizational culture of universities and faculties within them needs to be changed to eliminate feudal-like hierarchies, cronyism, and nepotism. These traits have to be replaced with a culture supporting meritocracy. This requires a leadership who shows by example. Deans with experience in reform and building teams will be required to reset these institutions.

5.There needs to be a set of standards that are fair for all to meet for university entry. This doesn’t mean there can’t be special entry programs for the disadvantaged. Many students now attending public universities would have been better off in the vocational system. Stricter entry standards will mean less students attending public universities and more in the vocational system that would better suit many students’ needs. This will help ease pressure on undergraduate teaching and raise standards very quickly.

Maszlee Malik doesn’t appear to have the interest or passion to lead the drive for excellence in public universities. He has been counterproductive through his appointments of vice chancellors. Religious credentials shouldn’t be a factor in selection.

If change can be made at the top, then the new broom can focus on granting full autonomy to public universities and change the Universities & Colleges Act so that university councils can be set up. The minister must denounce covert agendas and start a national dialogue about what Malaysian public universities should become. Finally, the apartheid nature of these insular institutions needs to be dismantled.

Ministers, bureaucrats, vice chancellors and deans don’t have to fly off to see Harvard or Oxford on the pretext to learn and emulate what is being done there.

Fortunately, within the public system there are some success stories. There are the examples within public universities that can learnt from where the elements of success can be transposed to other faculties within the public system. If this is not enough, vice chancellors only need to drive across town and look at some of the vibrant private universities as examples.

By:Murray Hunter,is a development expert based in Southeast Asia and a frequent contributor to Asia Sentinel.
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Best universities in Malaysia

World University Rankings

Explore the best universities in Malaysia, based on data collected by Times Higher Education
March 13 2019
Best universities in Malaysia

Malaysia is a country in South East Asia known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse population.

Made up of two main land masses, the Malaysian Peninsula and Malaysian Borneo, the country is known equally for its cosmopolitan capital and its wildlife-rich rainforests. The jungles of Borneo are home to over 1,000 species of animals, many of which are endangered. These include orangutans, clouded leopards and pygmy elephants.

By contrast, Kuala Lumpur – the nation’s capital – is a bustling metropolis, often used as a stepping stone to many other major South Asian destinations. Featuring the iconic Petronas Towers, the city’s impressive skyline is just one of KL’s many attractions. ​

Others include a canopy walkway 100ft in the air in the heart of the city, as well as the Batu Cave Temple, the stunning National Mosque and a host of museums.

Street food is incredibly popular and you can expect a varied cuisine with Indian,  Chinese and Malay influences.

Among all of this are some outstanding universities, which we have listed below, based on data collected for the THE World University Rankings 2019.

University of Malaya​

The University of Malaya, a public research university in Kuala Lumpur, is Malaysia’s oldest university, founded in 1905.

Initially established to cover the shortage of doctors in the country, the university has maintained its position as a leading medical
school.

It also offers bachelors degrees right through to doctoral qualifications across a range of other disciplines including economics, law, engineering, accountancy, linguistics and education.

The university also partners with several institutions across the globe, with links to Australia, France, Japan and the UK.

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR)​

Situated across two campuses in Kuala Lumpur, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) is Malaysia’s second best university.

Established as a not-for-profit university in 2002, the initial intake was just 411. This has now risen to 2,500 students, who can choose from over 110 academic programmes of study. When the university first started there were just eight degree programmes.

UTAR is made up of nine faculties, three academic institutes, three academic centres and 32 research centres. ​

There are 56 registered student societies at the university including the yoga society, the international friendship society, the robotics society, the board games club, the  taekwondo club and the first aid society among others.


Best universities in ShanghaiBest universities in TokyoBest universities in Singapore Best universities in Hong KongBest universities in TaiwanBest universities in South KoreaBest universities in China


Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia​

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, or The National University of Malaysia as it is sometimes known, was initially founded to uphold the Malay language.

​Today, the university’s focus has switched to energy, with an emphasis on biotechnology and earth science.

UKM’s Tun Seri Lanang Library is one of the biggest university libraries in Malaysia, housing a collecting of over two million
resources.

The university has three campuses: in Bangi, Cheras and Kuala Lumpur.

And the rest…

You can also choose from a range of other universities in Malaysia.

Other institutions with a focus on energy include Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN).

Away from Kuala Lumpur, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) is located on the northwest coast of stunning Borneo.

The Universiti Teknologi MARA (UITM) is the best of both worlds, with campuses in each part of Malaysia. ​


The top universities in Malaysia 2019

Click on each institution to see its full World University Rankings 2019 results

Malaysia Rank 2019 World University Rank 2019 University City/Area
1  301–350 University of Malaya Kuala Lumpur
2  501–600 Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) Petaling Jaya
=3  601–800 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Selangor
=3  601–800 Universiti Sains Malaysia Pulau Pinang
=3  601–800 Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Johor
=3  601–800 Universiti Teknologi Petronas Seri Iskandar
=7  801–1000 Universiti Putra Malaysia Selangor
=7  801–1000 Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN) Selangor
=7  801–1000 Universiti Utara Malaysia Kedah Darul Aman
=10  1001+ Universiti Teknologi MARA Selangor
=10  1001+ Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) Sarawak

Read more: Best universities in Asia

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