Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi (MOHE) vs Jabatan Pengajian Tinggi

I don't like to write much about the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia and the powerful role played by the lowly qualified PTDs ( Pegawai Tadbir Diplomatik) . But whenever I write about the topic I would get lots of positive responses (as well as a some negative  ones ) from readers all over the world about the status of higher education  in Malaysia. Hence, it's so difficult for me to ignore the topic or not  write about it. However, what I would like to say today is that I hope after the 13th general election, the government of the day whether its Pakatan or Barisan ( off course I would like the Barisan Nasional -aka National Coalition-to win although I don't really like some of its corrupt leaders) would revamp the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE). I believe the organisational structure of of the ministry is truly ineffective and it does not serve its purpose very well. There are a number of changes that could be made to improve the education system in Malaysia
'lowly qualified' PTDs running the MOHE

One of the things that can be done to the Ministry of  Higher Education ( MOHE) is to reduce or minimize the role of the PTDs. At the moment, the PTDs are in total control of the  higher education including the academic aspects. If you google  the organizational structure of the 'Pengurusan Tertinggi' you would notice that the Secretary General of Education, and both of his deputies are PTD agents. The Secretary General  seems to  oversee a whole lot of sections of the Ministry which include the academic sections such as  the Jabatan Pengajian Tinggi (JPT) which runs the universities and the Polytechnics and the Community colleges. In short, the PTDs are running the education show with absolute power  in this country. They decide on every thing education.I hope the new government would rethink about the powerful role played by the misplaced and sometimes arrogant PTDs. I believe we could not get rid of them totally as they also have an important role to play. I would suggest that they are given a limited role of running the non-academic sections of the Ministry.
Too much politics in education

Another change that could be done is  to elevate the Jabatan Pengajian Tinggi to become the new Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE). The Department of Higher Education or JPT is actually the main actor in the play and not the MOHE. The people in JPT are the ones who should be given the responsibility of running the ministry.The present MOHE is virtually administered by the PTDs and they are just the non-actors who are given the absolute power. The MOHE controlled by the PTDs should become only one of the minor players in the ministry and not the ones that run it. They actually have no role or very limited role to play. I believe most of the strategic planning by the higher education ministry is actually done by the good people at Jabatan Pengajian Tinggi (JPT) or the DS experts ( the university people) and not the MOHE because they (PTDs)  don't have the qualifications, knowledge and the experience to actually contribute to  the ideas. They are probably just the secretariat or the people who would give comments like "There's a comma missing in the memo". Please don't get me wrong. We cannot totally get rid of the PTDs as they have other equally important roles to play such as running the non academic sections of the ministry. We still need the bureaucrats to run the country.

The chosen ones?

Another major change that I really would like the government to do is to set up an education Commission  called Higher Education Commission which would comprise of  experts in Higher Education to advise the new MOHE in terms of how to reform the education system in the country. The experts should be invited from the DS or the Professors Emeritus locally or abroad who would suggest great ideas to revamp the education sector  in Malaysia. As  it is  now, the Ministry of Higher Education  is managed by PTDs who want the universities in Malaysia to run like Airasia or like DHL. Can you imagine a university running like Airasia or DHL. I don't know of any  establish universities in America or England that aspire to administer their education institutions like Airasia or DHL. It's actually the academic experience , research culture, publications that make the university and not the time of arrival/departure. This is one classic example why I actually propose that the real experts actually run the ministry and not the half baked lowly qualified  PTDs.

A political tool?

I really hope the next government of the day would also make education free from political interferences. Nowadays, much of the decisions made by the ministry is colored by decisions made by some unscrupulous politicians. Just look at the universities and colleges  in Malaysia. There are more that 500 institutions of higher learning in Malaysia with a population of only 28 million. There's too many of them. If you look carefully all the established political parties in Malaysia have their own institutions of higher learning. (MIC with its AIMST, MCA with its UTAR and UMNO with its KUB  college, GERAKAN with its Wawasan University ) If you look at the private universities you will notice that there are also  those without experiences, money and without qualified people  get to become universities. I hope we will not become like the Philippines where universities can just be a row of shop houses. I wish we could go back to the time when our Minister of Education was a vice Chancellor from USM who seemed to be not interested in too much of politics. He would sure that decisions on education would be free from political encroach. When its the ministry is  apolitical ,we will be able to actually provide Malaysians with real quality education.

I really hope that the government will get rid or minimize the role the PTDs play in MOHE. The ministry has got to be run by the  real experts who should come from education or from the university. I also hope that politics is minimized when making decisions on education. I really hope that our country will really move forward with greater confidence and a brighter future. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What to do in Bandar Baru Bangi/ Interesting places in Bangi

Uptown Bangi

Bandar Baru Bangi is an academic town south of Kuala Lumpur. If there is no traffic jam you can reach Bangi in 22 minutes from Kuala Lumpur. The town is very strategically located and it is not far from Putrajaya (10 minutes) , KLIA (30 minutes) Seremban ( 30 minutes) and Shah Alam (50 minutes). It is said that BBB is the second largest Malay town in the world after Shah Alam. I don't really know whether this is true. It could be Cape town, South Africa where you have large descendants of Malay in that colorful town. Or it could be Jaffna in Sri Lanka because there are also large Malay communities in the northern part of Sri Lanka. It could very well be Nakhon Sri Thammarat in Southern Thailand a place inhabited by large number of Malays who speak like the Kelantanese. I also heard that there is a town in northern Sumatera where there is a large Malay community who speak like the Kedahan. I hope experts in UKM can help me  provide the answer to the problem. Since there is a possibility that BBB is the second largest Malay town in the world, what can you do in that place or what are some of the interesting places to visit in the academic  town.
Taman Tasik Cempaka

One very nice thing to do in Bangi is to visit its lake garden known as Taman Tasik Cempaka. It is a man made lake that is situated in the middle of Bangi town. I suggest that  you bring you children there for an evening walk or   take beautiful family pictures at the lake . There is also a reasonably big playground area for your children to safely play. If you don't have small children with you like yours truly (my children are now young adults), I would suggest that you use Tasik Cempaka as a jogging track. The track that encircles the lake is quite large;  I think a complete circle of the jogging track would cover at least 3.5 kilometers which is a good length for a bucketful of sweat. Tasik Cempaka is also known as a place for couples to get intimate with their partner but I warn you that there is  a camera that is linked directly to the Police Station in Bandar Baru Bangi . The Majlis Agama Islam Selangor  (MAIS)  is also known to catch unscrupulous couples  committing close proximity in the area. So young couples please be aware of the danger and do your things somewhere else.

Another nice thing to do in Bangi especially at night is to go to the  Uptown night market which is not far from Econsave hypermarket. I would recommend that you go there after 9 pm. If you go earlier than that  the stalls would still be closed. It is very much like a Pasar Malam but the food sold at the place is much better. I had the best Chicken chop (Rm 10) at the night market. The gravy , brown sauce is mixed with Sarawak black pepper sauce  goes really well with the reasonably big piece of grilled chicken. The salad consists of pieces of  potatoes and carrots sauteed served together with a piece of crispy Italian garlic bread. You can also have a very nice Nasi lemak at one of the stalls, the first stall, but it is slightly on the expensive side. However , the place is quite clean and the 'sambal' is quite nice. A plate of nasi lemak with 'sotong kering' will cost at least RM (5) and hot and cold drinks are also served at the stall. If you go at the non-food section of the Uptown night market you can actually have a 30 minute (RM 30) massage by trained masseuse at the make shift stalls. Some men would have the massage in the open where as most of the women would opt for a closed area.
Dim sum at Equatorial Bangi

If you have nothing to do on Saturday in Bangi, I  suggest that yo have a Dim Sum brunch at the Equatorial Bangi.  Most of the people in Bangi used to go to a Hotel in Putrajaya for their Dim Sum but the new management at  Equatorial Bangi has improved their Dim Sum offerings. The Dim Sum on Saturdays costs RM 40++  but during the weekdays its RM 35++. I would suggest that you go on Saturday because the Dim Sum spread is more varied during the weekends. If you don't know how to eat the little Chines snacks don't be too worried because the people at the restaurant would help you.

Another activity that you can do in Bangi is to go to Warta shopping center. Warta shopping center is the largest mall in Bangi. You can find KFC, McDonald's, Rasa restaurant, Giant grocery store, Pizza Hut Restaurant, Popular bookstore, Wan's goldsmith, and a good Chinese and 'Mamak' restaurants at the shopping center. Big apple, the donut store, has also opened a kiosk at the place .The  latest addition is the Belgian waffle kiosk situated at the entrance of the Mall. If you are a big sized person there is a clothing section in the Giant hypermarket that sells big sized shirts. However, I find the offerings a little expensive for my taste. 

Masjid Hasannah Bangi
If you happen to come to Bangi on Friday the Masjid Hasanah does have food and clothing stalls at its premises. The stalls are opened around 11 am and at one of the stalls there is one that sells Nasi Arab. The Nasi Arab there is quite nice (RM 10-13) . But please be warned that the Nasi will be sold out by 12.30  pm. If you like having Nasi Arab there, I would suggest that you go there around 11.30 am. Please don't forget to perform your Friday Prayers after having Nasi Arab at the stall.

So these are some of the things that you can do in Bangi. There is actually nothing much that you can do here in BBB. It is just a small academic town that are inhabited by generally rich Malays. One thing about the Malay community there is that even though they are rich, the Malays are very humble. I hope the town stays as it is with some nice new projects.