October 26th, 2014

PROTON, PERODUA galas cabaran

PELANCARAN dua model kereta oleh perusahaan automotif nasional, PERODUA dan PROTON bagi menghadapi industri automotif dunia yang kompetitif dan sedang berkembang pesat memperlihatkan kesungguhan kerajaan dalam mentransformasi industri automotif tempatan untuk menerobos pasaran global tahun 2015 dengan lebih bergaya.

Pada 16 September lalu, PERODUA melancarkan kereta Kenderaan Cekap Tenaga (EEV) Model Axia pada harga mampu milik bermula RM24,900. Model ini didatangkan dengan jaminan lima tahun, konsep pertama ditawarkan PERODUA.


MODEL Iriz dan Axia (kiri) adalah reka bentuk dua kereta nasional yang menekankan elemen kreativiti dan inovasi.

Ini adalah model kereta ke-10 dilancarkan oleh PERODUA sejak pelancaran model kereta pertama PERODUA Kancil pada tahun 1994. PERODUA adalah perusahaan kereta Malaysia kedua selepas PROTON. Sehingga kini, PERODUA melahirkan beberapa model antaranya, Rusa (1996), Kembara (1998-2008), Kenari (2002), Kelisa (2001), Myvi (2007), Viva 2007, autica (2008) dan Alza (2009).


Terkini, kereta Axia mempunyai ciri-ciri Automotif Teknologi Hijau. Langkah PERODUA perlu dipuji kerana menitikberatkan hal teknologi hijau, seperti kata Presiden dan Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif PERODUA, Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh, model terbaharu ini amat menjimatkan bahan api jika dipandu mencapai 21.6 kilometer (km) bagi setiap liter.

Penulis mengamati Axia yang dihasilkan menerusi pemodenan PERODUA dari kilang pengeluaran mesra alam, antaranya menghasilkan formulasi semburan cat berasaskan air dan dari segi enjin penggunaan sistem automasi pada paras tinggi yang meningkatkan kualiti, yang pada masa yang sama mengurangkan kos.

Model berdaya saing

Axia yang berdasarkan gabungan perkataan Asia dan X yang menjadi nombor 10 dalam angka Roman adalah model berdaya saing di rantau ini kerana empat ciri utama iaitu mesra alam, ruang luas untuk kereta kompak, pemanduan mudah dan ekonomik dari segi kos pemilikan.

Bersaing rapat, PROTON pula melancarkan model Iriz pada 25 September tahun 2014. Model ini memaparkan model serba baharu dengan reka bentuk menarik dan pelbagai ciri keselamatan seperti 6 beg udara (varian premium), kerangka yang amat kukuh dengan penggunaan teknologi Hot Press-Formed (HPF) dan Utra High Strength (UHSS) di beberapa bahagian utama.

Iriz adalah model pertama PROTON yang diiktiraf 5 bintang ASEAN NCAP dan paling cekap penggunaan petrol bawah 7 liter bagi setiap 100 kilometer, malah Iriz juga dianggap sebagai kereta 100 peratus Malaysia. Iriz dipasarkan dalam dua variasi enjin 1.3 liter VVT (Standard dan Executive) dan 1.6 liter VVT (Executive dan Premium) pada harga RM40,000 hingga RM60,000.

PROTON atau Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional adalah cetusan idea dan ilham Bapa Pemodenan Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Idea untuk melahirkan PROTON bermula sejak tahun 1979 lagi yang bertujuan untuk mempercepatkan kemampuan industrialisasi Malaysia bagi mengimbangi negara maju.

Bagaimanapun, Kabinet hanya menyetujui Projek Kereta Nasional pada tahun 1982 dan PROTON secara rasminya ditubuhkan pada 7 Mei tahun 1983. Model pertama yang dilancarkan secara komersial ialah Saga pada 9 Julai tahun 1985. PROTON berkembang maju dengan amat pesat dan memberangsangkan.

Setahun selepas dilancarkan, pada tahun 1986, PROTON melancarkan 10,000 unit dan tahun berikutnya 50,000 yang turut dijual di Bangladesh dan Brunei.

PROTON berjaya mencapai pengeluaran ke 1,000,000 unit pada tahun 1996. PROTON memasuki fasa baharu apabila DRB-HICOM Berhad mengambil alih pada tahun 2012. PROTON adalah syarikat automotif pertama negara melancarkan pelbagai model, antaranya Waja, Wira, Neo, Savvy, GEN 2, Pesona, Exora dan Perdana.

Persoalannya, mampukah Axia dan Iriz menembusi pasaran automotif global dan mengangkat martabat industri automotif tempatan khususnya selepas Perjanjian Perkongsian Trans-Pasifik (TPPA) yang bakal ditandatangani kelak, termasuk pemansuhan duti import kenderaan?

Pada masa kini, ada lima pengeluar automotif terbesar dunia. Pada tahun 2013 Toyota menerajui pengeluaran dengan sebanyak 10,104,424 unit, diikuti General Motors (9,285,425), Volkswagen (9,254,742, Hyundai (7,126,413) dan Ford (5,595,483).

Uji pasaran global

Mampukah Malaysia menerobos pasaran global kenderaan bermotor Malaysia yang kini hanya baharu berusia 29 tahun, berbanding Toyota yang beroperasi 77 tahun, manakala General Motors bermula sejak tahun 1931 atau 83 tahun lalu dengan mempunyai kilang pengeluaran di 37 negara.

Begitu juga Volkswagen diasaskan pada tahun 1937 adalah pengeluar kereta terbesar di Jerman pada tahun lalu dan kini memiliki antara jenama terlaris masa kini iaitu Volkswagen Golf dan Volkswagen Passat.

Malah, Volkswagen bukan saja terbabit dengan pembuatan, Volkswagen juga menjadi perusahaan dengan pengeluaran tertinggi untuk penelitian dan pembangunan automotif.

Sementara itu, Hyundai Motor Company yang menduduki tangga keempat begitu gah sebagai perusahaan multinasional Korea Selatan utama sejak tahun 1967.

Pencapaian luar biasa Hyundai adalah apabila penjualan kereta syarikat itu di Amerika Syarikat melonjak pada tahun 2013, termasuk mencatat jualan tertinggi sepanjang masa iaitu 66,000 unit pada Ogos tahun 2013.

Kenderaan Hyundai kini dijual di 193 buah negara di seluruh dunia melalui lebih 6,000 pengedar dan bilik pameran di serata dunia.

Kehebatan Hyundai yang berjaya menguasai pasaran kenderaan hanya dalam tempoh 47 tahun sewajarnya menjadi inspirasi industri automotif Malaysia. Jenama Hyundai cukup gah menaja sukan antarabangsa seperti Sukan Komanwel di Scotland dan Tenis Terbuka Melbourne, Australia, baru-baru ini.

Pengeluar kereta Ford menduduki carta kelima pengeluaran paling tinggi tahun lalu. Ford diasaskan 101 tahun lalu di Dearborn, Michigan dan masih bertahan sehingga sekarang. Ford menjadi pengeluar kereta kedua terbesar di Amerika Syarikat dan menjadi industri paling penting dalam sejarah negara Uncle Sam itu. Ford pernah mengalami sejarah jatuh bangunnya, namun kekentalan dan semangat waja membawa Ford merentasi satu kurun industri pembuatan kereta.

Saingan industri automotif

Jadi, PROTON dan PERODUA menggalas cabaran yang bukan kepalang untuk menghadapi saingan industri automotif peringkat ASEAN, Asia dan global.

Sejajar dengan itu, kerajaan memperkenalkan Dasar Automotif Nasional (NAP) pada Mac tahun 2006, bertujuan untuk membantu usaha transformasi dan integrasi industri automatif tempatan dalam jaringan industri serantau dan global yang semakin kompetitif serta perlu lagi memastikan industri automotif tempatan terutama pengeluar kereta nasional berdaya tahan.

Sudah tiba masanya Malaysia dilihat sebagai hab automotif serantau bagi kenderaan EEV, meningkatkan nilai tambah secara mapan, meningkatkan eksport kenderaan dan komponen serta alat ganti, menggalakkan penyertaan Bumiputera secara menyeluruh dalam industri automotif tempatan dalam sektor pembuatan dan lepas jualan.

Kalau kita lihat prestasi industri automotif tempatan dari segi jualan agak membanggakan dari 536,905 unit (2009) kepada 627,753 (2012) dan 652,120 (2013). Ini hasil jualan PROTON dan PERODUA.

Kalau dibandingkan dengan jumlah pengeluaran kenderaan global bagi tahun 2012 adalah sebanyak 84.1 juta, manakala jualan kenderaan pula 82.1 juta unit.

Jumlah jualan bagi tahun 2013 adalah 82.8 juta unit. China, Amerika Syarikat dan Jepun menguasai kedudukan teratas bagi pengeluaran dan jualan kenderaan.

Malaysia menduduki di kedudukan ke-18 bagi pengeluaran dan ke-20 bagi jualan. Persaingan dalam kalangan negara ASEAN agak kompetitif meletakkan Malaysia di tangga ketiga selepas Thailand dan Indonesia. Kapasiti pengeluaran keseluruhan adalah 4.5 juta unit. Dari segi jualan kenderaan di rantau ASEAN adalah dianggarkan melebihi 5.2 juta menjelang 2020.

Pelancaran model Axia dan Iriz sebenarnya satu ujian menguji pasaran industri automotif tempatan, di samping usaha drastik kumpulan reka bentuk dua kereta nasional negara itu menghasilkan suatu idea yang menekankan elemen kreativiti dan inovasi. Mustafar Ramdzuan Zakaria ialah Penyelidik Sosioekonomi Berita Harian Rencana 26 Oktober 2014

Flexible and modular A levels



EXTERNAL ASSESSMENT WITH NO COURSEWORK: Eighty per cent of Malaysian students who completed their Pearson Edexcel A Level and International Advanced Level qualifications this year will further their studies at the world’s top 50 universities.

Among the the tertiary institutions are Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Cambridge, London School of Economics And Political Science, University of California, Berkeley, Imperial College London, University College London, Kings College London and University of Melbourne, for the academic year 2014/15 intake.

Pearson’s Partner Markets, Asia head Steven McGill said: “We are proud of the Malaysian students for meeting the highest standards in global education. Now more than ever, our world is interconnected.

“To be successful personally and professionally, students must become ‘global citizens’ skilled at interacting with people from other countries and cultures, and capable of analysing and addressing issues from a global perspective.”

He added: “We are pleased they have chosen Edexcel qualifications as the platform to leapfrog them into gaining international education experience or studying abroad to build global competence. We take pride in developing world-class students for world-class universities.”

Quoting figures from the Education Ministry, McGill said: “Malaysian students studying abroad increased by over 34 per cent from 2009-2010, from 58,963 to 79,254. Out of the total number of students studying abroad, 28,291 are sponsored by either government or private institutions.

“From the year 2010 to 2011, the total number of Malaysian students studying abroad increased 13 per cent from 79,254 to 89,580. Australia, the United Kingdom and Ireland, Egypt, the United States and Indonesia were among the popular destinations.”

Edexcel GCE A levels follow the UK syllabus while Edexcel International Advanced Level gives international centres the opportunity to teach a modular A level qualification, with June examinations.

From this year, new GCE A levels will be introduced for first teaching in September 2015 in subjects such as art and design, biology, business studies, chemistry, computing science, economics, English (language, literature, and language and literature), history, physics, psychology and sociology while in 2015, new GCE A levels for mathematics, geography and modern foreign languages for first teaching from September 2016.

Launched in September 2013, Edexcel International Advanced Level, which has been developed specifically for international students, features a flexible and modular structure, available in eight popular subjects and 100 per cent external assessment with no coursework.

University of Sheffield’s Southeast Asia associate director Tina Yeung said: “A levels are an established and recognised worldwide qualification for entry into some of the renowned universities around the world. For decades UK universities have accepted this qualification as a requirement for admission to their degree programmes, whether this is for something practical like engineering or a theoretical course such as philosophy.”

Cynthia Low, who studied Edexcel International Advanced Level qualifications at HELP Academy Malaysia, said: “Edexcel qualifications are among the most established and popular exams in the world.

“As a result, I have developed a passion for mathematics and accounting. I intend to further my studies in finance at the London School of Economics.”

“I got great grades in my A levels, so I feel confident to move forward. I am enrolling in a BSc in Actuarial Science programme at Heriot-Watt University in Malaysia,” said Wae Yee Hew, who studied Edexcel International Advanced Levels.

Student Heng Ho Cheong said Edexcel qualifications are among the most established and popular in the world. “As a result, I am going to further my studies in civil engineering at Imperial College London.”



Steven McGill (second from left) sharing a light moment with Pearson Asia regional director Premila Paulraj, Cynthia Low, Tina Yeung and Pearson senior country manager Siva Prakash
ZULITA MUSTAFA NST Learning Curve 26 OCTOBER 2014 @ 8:00 AM

Perspective: Philosophy will not go away

I STUMBLED upon and bought Rolf Dobelli’s The Art of Thinking Clearly (2013) at a bookshop in an airport recently. It was not that there were no other appropriate books on the subject available there at that time; it was just that the title precisely expressed my preoccupation with the subject of clarity of thought for this column.

The author delves into cognitive biases — the simple errors we make in daily thinking. The book covers human reasoning, the assumptions that we make about the world and ourselves.

In his introduction, Dobelli, a Swiss, who describes himself as “a novelist, sailor and pilot”, reminds that the failure to think clearly, or what is called “cognitive error”, is a systematic deviation from logic.

And this deviation implies moving away from optimal, rational, reasonable thought and behaviour.

This brings me to Professor Tan Sri Dzulkifli Abdul Razak’s Perspective column (Learning Curve, Oct 19) with the heading In Praise of the Spirit of Inquiry.

His argument, in support of studying for its own sake, called for a reassessment of the value of “useless knowledge”.

Interestingly, he cited two newspapers — Britain’s The Telegraph with a story titled Study for its Own Sake (Oct 9), and a local daily’s headline R&D Syok Sendiri.

And I have to ask: “Where would universities be if there is no syok sendiri?”

The reason why I am raising this theme is precisely because knowledge generation, in its most pristine form, is the lifeline of the university.

Dzulkifli emphasised that the generation of knowledge is the raison d’etreof universities. “Without new knowledge, education in universities can be easily outdated.” He mentioned C.S. Lewis ad J.R.R. Tolkien spending hours “poring over Norse and Anglo-Saxon mythology”.

Recently I was invited to speak on the topic The Role of Philosophy in Developing Societies to the Bachelor of Philosophy, Law and Business students at the College of Law, Government and International Studies, Universiti Utara Malaysia. The programme was introduced in 2013.

At the talk moderated by Dr Munif Zarirruddin Fikri Nordin, formerly the coordinator who remains a dedicated driver of the programme, I told the 19 undergraduates that I am not a philosopher, and would not presume to be one. But I underpinned the significance of thinking clearly and being conscious of one’s thoughts, and other thought systems.

I was asked a litany of questions ranging from the definition of philosophy to the work of philosophers. What will students from the programme (with a one third philosophy component) be when they graduate? How will their knowledge and its utility be measured? And who measures them?

By raising questions on the choice of a suitable job, occupation or profession, our utilitarian obsessed society has found ways to demolish “philosophy” and demean it as worthless.

Even academics and professors have frowned upon the programme. What can it contribute to the progress of the nation? One of the functions of universities is to look to the future. Market surveys tell us our present needs.

And philosophy as a field of study has never quite make it in market/industry surveys for curriculum design. This is because the field of philosophy has been perceived as the past and the future — never the present.

Thoughts on philosophy in higher education have never been appropriated. Philosophy has been (re)presented to us as the Greco-European expression of logic, aesthetics (not only of beauty), ethics, knowledge and reality, and conceptions of God in metaphysics.

Its periodisation into ancient, medieval and modern (and post-modern) for example is peculiar to the European (later Euro-American) experience.

Metaphysics, logic, epistemology and other modes of inquiry also exist in other religions and civilisations, and we would have to appropriate them as such. Strangely, philosophy, as the first academic field, has no place in our universities. There is no progress (of the field in Malaysia), and association with human and societal advancement.

When Zainal Abidin Ahmad (Pendita Za’ba) taught at University of Malaya (in Singapore) in the early 1950s, he had initiated a philosophy department (it was stillborn). Later, in the early 1980s, the International Islamic University had set up a philosophy department.

The question in the minds of many was: Would students enrol? Who would want to study philosophy, and why?

I do not want to prescribe where philosophy graduates will precisely fit.

They can be employed anywhere and in any capacity that demands systematic (however we take it to mean) thinking, and a clear notion of causality. Then there is rationality (irrationality and arrationality) and intuition — what to do and, at the same time, what not to do.

One can become academics in philosophy (or other fields in the humanities and social sciences), planners and analysts in organisations (public, private and non-governmental), managers, stockbrokers, social advocates, chief executive officers (CEOs), and of course writers, journalists, intellectuals and scholars.

The world has seen philosophy graduates becoming CEOs.

Even if there are no students enrolled in a philosophy programme, it would be wise to have a department of philosophy, with a few lecturers functioning as custodians of the field, servicing a few electives, supervising postgraduate students, and perhaps, bearing some unwelcome wisdom on campus.

In this sense, Malaysian universities are quite far behind their counterparts in the region. We ignore Plato’s The Myth of the Cave at our own risk. Philosophy will not go away. Its lack of progress is an illusion of our minds and runs deep in our psyches.

Without the field’s advancement, we would not be labouring in our own small territorial interests.

This brings us back to the “uselessness of things”. Tun Muhammad Ghazali Shafie studied ancient Welsh Law at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth, far away from Malaya, between 1948 and 1951.

Many will assume that the course did not have much utility for nation-building.

But had he not been in close epistemological proximity to the system in United Kingdom, Malaysia would not have morphed into a modern nation state — a federation of states.

The clarity of thought in Muhammad Ghazali Shafie, civil servant, politician, statesman and thinker who served as Home Affairs Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister between 1973 and 1984, moulded and advanced a territory that we call “Malaysia” today.

The picture of Plato on the cover is courtesy of ourcivilisation.com A. MURAD MERICAN NST Learning Curve 26 OCTOBER 2014 @ 8:01 AM

In Conversation With ...: ‘Give your best to your country’

NATIONAL Academic Award 2013 recipient Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Mohd Rashdan Baba, 79, is the first vice chancellor of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and the then Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (now Universiti Putra Malaysia). He shares his views on the early days of the tertiary institutions as well as the current national education system:

Being the founding vice chancellor of two public universities — Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (UPM) — was no easy task. Who mooted the idea and why were they established?



Mohd Rashdan Baba and his family.
Being the founding vice chancellor of two public universities — Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (UPM) — was no easy task. Who mooted the idea and why were they established?

UKM was established in 1969 when the government under the leadership of former Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak wanted a university to use Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction. The universities in the country used English language at the time. Bahasa Malaysia was made the medium of instruction with the aim of developing it into a language of knowledge.

At that time UKM was viewed as a second-class university because Malay was its medium of instruction. So his (Abdul Razak) wish was to see UKM become a world-class university.

He wanted to appoint (the then) Institute of Medical Research director Professor Datuk Dr Ungku Omar Ungku Ahmad as the first UKM vice chancellor but unfortunately Ungku Omar passed away before he could assume the position. I was appointed to fill the position. At that time I was head of Kolej Pertanian in Serdang.

UPM was established because there was demand for trained agricultural graduates to serve the country. Under the Felda schemes, more Malays were given the opportunity to study at the universities so there was a lot of demand for graduates in this field. Between 1965 and 1969, there was a four-fold increase in enrolment to meet demand.

At the same time, the government felt there was a lack of teachers as well as manpower to meet the needs of the agricultural sector. The government chose Serdang as a centre of excellence and agriculture as its focus.

Initially, there was an agriculture faculty at University of Malaya but it moved to Serdang. What started off as Kolej Pertanian became UPM in 1971.



Some of Mohd Rashdan Baba’s biographies and books.

How did you manage the obstacles in establishing these two universities?

It took hard work, a lot of hard work. We sat down and worked, and bonded through it all. I was fortunate to have good team members whose focus was similar and our aim was to establish the universities. We shared the same passion for the work. Together with former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tan Sri Abdullah Ayub, Tun Syed Nasir Ismail and Dr Agoes Salim, we stood at the forefront in the establishment of the universities to enable students from Malay medium schools to continue their education up to the tertiary level.

Did you encounter difficulties finding manpower?

Not many reputable professors and lecturers wanted to join UKM then. To solve the problem, I encouraged UKM teaching staff to continue their education, provided them with scholarships and hired lecturers, who taught in Bahasa Melayu, from a number of reputable universities in Indonesia.




Mohd Rashdan Baba reminiscing about the past.

You are regarded as a role model for current university leaders. How do you feel about it?

I am honoured to be anyone’s mentor. Anyone who is given the task of setting up the universities should take it as an opportunity to give his best to the country and its development. If you are given a task, give it your best — not for personal gain but what the country can gain. I took the opportunity to develop higher education in the country as a challenge, expecting no reward in return, other than what the country can gain in terms of future development.

The development of human resources is key to achieving national development objectives — to eradicate poverty and make higher education more accessible, especially in the rural areas. It was imperative that the twin aims were achieved. The provision of higher education ensured that certain communities were not left behind and also increased the pool of trained manpower, not only at the graduate but also postgraduate level. I sent students to pursue their postgraduate education overseas. In my estimation, both UKM and UPM achieved these two goals very well.

I found this opportunity of helping to enhance manpower most satisfying. I identified some top 40 UPM students to be awarded scholarships to study overseas so they can become lecturers when they return. I also looked for scholarships opportunities, for example from Ford Foundation, Australian Development Agency, Public Services Department and scholarships from Canada for these students. All of these efforts were to send them to study abroad.

This proved to be a workable concept — sending our best and brightest abroad, educating them and bringing them back to teach students here. We didn’t have enough teachers then due to the expansion of the higher education system in the country.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has mooted four main tasks for local tertiary institutions to fulfil as Malaysia moves towards becoming a high income nation. One of them is creating a “knowledge-generating centre”. What are your views?

The Prime Minister has mooted a good idea. It’s the role of the university to be at the forefront of knowledge. This is not easy as information is increasing at a rapid rate, and knowledge together with it. The universities of the future will have to find new ways of doing things, and to do them efficiently. That means they will have to keep pace with an explosion of knowledge all over the world.

It has been said that our local graduates can’t function at the workplace. Perhaps one way to overcome the problem is to ensure our universities function as knowledge-generating centres, not only for the duration of the student’s association with the university, but even after he leaves its portals.

To remain meaningful, universities must not only impart knowledge, they must also be deeply involved in research. Research is vital to the university. It is what differentiates universities from other teaching centres. Teaching without research is like a “no push” so that’s why you have to encourage faculty members to create new things. A high percentage of time should be allocated to research, both fundamental and applied.

Which is more important for students to achieve at university? Is it getting a good Cumulative Grade Point Average or the experience they gain along the way?

One has to look at a university in the context of its ecosystem. It is pointless to have ivory towers of excellence in a swamp of inactivity. Universities must develop on the basis of their relationship with industry. Having a good relationship between the industry and the university is a win-win proposition.

You gain both ways. The industry will work with the university so that the latter knows the type of students in demand. The industry will also indicate the research it likes to be conducted that will be of value to it.

The public sector has an important role as well in identifying incentives for universities — staff training, internships and tax rebate. By working together, industry and universities can identify new frontiers of growth and development for the nation.

Every cluster of enterprise, be it Silicon Valley, Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, Route 90 in Massachusetts to name but three American examples, benefits from this synergy between universities and industry.

The industry can provide incentives, say laptops or research grants, for students. Projects can be crafted to benefit the industry while at the same time provide research opportunities for universities and their students.

As for the students, they will have an idea of the skills required by the industry. When they undergo their internships, they will also know the skills and requirements needed upon graduation. During their internships, they will have put to good use what their universities have taught them, and learn more from the industry to boot.

By engendering such relationships, students will know the fields of research which will further increase their productivity and value after they graduate and, at the same time, enhance the relevance of the research programmes of the universities.

Can you foresee what will happen to the education system in five years? What are some of the things you want to do differently?

This explosion of information and knowledge all over the world will mean students will become less exam-orientated and become truly educated individuals, who think critically and analytically, and are less dependant on learning from books. For all you know, much of what they know will be outdated 10 years after their graduation. The challenge of modern universities is to inculcate in students a devotion to a lifetime of learning, through a range of modalities, both new and old. In so doing, universities will continue to be relevant and continue to add value to the development and integrity of the nation. ZULITA MUSTAFA NST Learning Curve - 26 OCTOBER 2014 @ 8:02

Disciplined and no-nonsense

THE only child in the family, Datin Dr Rayslida Rashdan Baba, had an “eventful childhood”, thanks to her parents Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Mohd Rashdan Baba and his wife, the late Puan Sri Robiyah Abdul Majid.

Dr Rayslida, an anaesthetist with three children.



Dr Rayslida Rashdan sharing a light moment with her father.

Mohd Rashdan is the first vice chancellor of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and the then Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (now Universiti Putra Malaysia). Robiyah was a graduate teacher from United Kingdom and she worked in the UPM library upon her return.

“Although I was an only child, I was brought up in a strict and regimented way. My father is a disciplinarian but not in a military manner. Discipline is important to him,”says Dr Rayslida, an anaesthetist with three children.

“I have to sit down with him and my mother at every meal. For him, mealtimes are best for catching up on the day. We bonded over meals.

“And I had to be at the door to welcome him home from work, and hug and kiss him,” she says, adding that these practices helped to shape her character.

Her parents knew all her friends and her father remains friendly and helpful to them till now. “My parents showed concern for my friends after they left school and cared about the progress they made in life.”

Dr Rayslida recalls her father’s determination to set up the universities. “We lived on the campus of Serdang College, now UPM. While growing up, my home was the centre of discussions. Friends, staff and students from the university and elsewhere held discussions at our house till the wee hours of the morning. My mother prepared pot after pot of coffee.

“In those days, the visitors were like family, they had developed a close bond with each other. To them, there were many things to discuss and too little time to get things done.

“They sacrificed their time with their family to establish the universities. They were full of sincerity, honesty and dedication. I have never seen such passion — they came and went for days on end, and my parents welcomed them without complaint.

“The vice chancellor’s house became a hub of the university; it received many visitors. A curtain separated the kitchen from the lounge and I eavesdropped. My mother always told me jangan dengar orang besar cakap (don’t eavesdrop on older people’s conversation) but I listened in regardless.”

Mohd Rashdan is not only a disciplinarian but also a no-nonsense man. Those who worked for him in the early years of the setting up of the universities remain his close friends who understand him very well. He could be hot-tempered, but remains composed during challenging times.

“The early days of setting up the universities were a stressful time. My mother helped out at the first UPM convocation to make sure everything went smoothly while my father sat in the front row. She became my father’s buffer and moderator. Not many people understood his sense of urgency which could be misinterpreted as being temperamental. If he wanted something to be done, it had to be done. I tell my children that they are lucky that their grandfather has mellowed.

“But despite his hot temper, his friends appreciated his dedication, efforts and struggles in the field of education and they respect and love him for what he is till today.

“My father believes in giving equal chances in education to everyone, regardless of their background. He especially gave due attention to students from the rural areas. He wanted them to come out of poverty by using education and knowledge as tools for this transformation.“

The late Robiyah was his pillar of strength. “She went through thick and thin with him.”

Apart from her mother, Dr Rayslida’s grandmother also played an important role in her father’s life.

“My grandmother believed in a good education. Although they came from a poor family, she made sure he attended school. She woke up at 4am every day and walked 11km to tap rubber, sold kuih and worked in the paddy field.”

Now at 79 years of age, her father is not as healthy as he used to be. “He can’t converse as well as before. Occasionally, he needs some time to gather his thoughts and compose his sentences. Nevertheless, his mind is still sharper than most of us. He reads the newspapers and analyses every detail.” NST Learning Curve 26 OCTOBER 2014 @ 8:03 AM

Low wages at home behind brain drain

VISITING New York recently, I met up with a former colleague who was transferred to the North American headquarters of Thomson Reuters in Manhattan seven years ago.

The man, who is in his 40s, is settling down well with his wife and two children, one of whom was born in New York. He commutes every day by train to the office from his house in New Jersey.

Sitting down for a sumptuous lunch of Thai green curry chicken and white rice, I broached the subject of whether he planned to return home to Malaysia one day. He said he was unlikely to do so. In fact, he was waiting for his daughter to sponsor his green card when she reached the legal age.

One clear reason for his decision is the compensation package. He has to take a big pay cut to return home.

The government, corporate sector and educationists must work together to make Malaysia a place where great talent, internally and externally, converge.




This is the main dilemma facing tens of thousands of Malaysian professionals working and living abroad.

Six of 10 Malaysians abroad have cited that as one of the main deterrents. The issues of liveability, and safety and security didn’t really rank high on their list of concerns.

There are, of course, “push” and “pull” factors in the whole equation of talent management.

In the first place, are salary levels in Malaysia too unattractive to attract and retain good talent?

We seem to be doing a good job in drawing low-end talent, not the high-end ones, despite our stated desire to become a high-income nation by 2020.

For far too long, our wage level has been kept artificially low by big and small employers. Just imagine, an arts graduate, who has been working for more than 10 years with one medium-sized company, is drawing just RM5,000 per month.

An engineering graduate or a young medical officer, for example, earns a starting salary of about RM3,000 per month or less.

Economists agree that wages are quite low in Malaysia. In fact, productivity growth has been higher than wage growth for the past few years.

So, to argue that we need to increase productivity before we can increase wages is not right.

What average Malaysian workers are also complaining about is that living costs are growing faster than their wage increases.

Selected items in the basket of goods, as captured by the Consumer Price Index, have registered faster price increases than the national wage increase.

We need to address the supply and demand side in ensuring that Malaysia retains and attracts high-end talent, doing higher value-added jobs, as we march towards 2020.

Part of this huge task is assigned to TalentCorp, a government agency charged with managing the talent side.

But, this is not a job for TalentCorp alone. Its chief executive, a chartered accountant by training and economics graduate from the University of Cambridge, Johan Mahmood Merican, said it had, so far, approved about 3,000 applications under its Returning Expert Programme (REP) since 2011.

It is worth noting that only the very experienced — degree holders with eight years’ experience of working abroad and earning RM20,000 per month — are covered under REP.

“I am sure others, those with less experience, are also coming back to jobs in Malaysia, but not necessarily under TalentCorp,” he told me.

Johan said the talent strategy for Malaysia was very clear: firstly, provide avenues to draw back Malaysians working abroad, and secondly, drive improvements around factors leading people to leave.

A 2011 World Bank report estimated that more than one million Malaysians (aged 25 and above) were living abroad, of which about 300,000 were estimated brain drain, as they had received tertiary education.

Things could worsen if we fail to address the brain drain issue quickly and adequately.

For example, there are some 14,000 Malaysians studying in the United Kingdom. We need to create good-paying jobs back home, otherwise, they might end up working in the UK or elsewhere.

Trained accountants and bankers from Malaysia are well sought after by global financial centres, such as London, Sydney and Hong Kong. So are our oil and gas engineers or airline pilots, who are in demand in the Middle East.

The government, corporate sector and educationists must work hand in hand to tackle education, economic and other structural reforms over the long term.

Malaysia can and should be an attractive place where great talent, internally and externally, converge and flourish, if we are really serious about this. A. Jalil Hamid NST Columnist 26 October 2014

Idris Jusoh: Universities given flexibility over new MUET ruling

SINTOK: Higher learning institutions (IPTA) will be given flexibility in implementing the new qualifying conditions for the Malaysian University English Test (MUET) due to start next year.
Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said the intake of students was subject to approval by the senate of the respective universities, therefore, implementing the new conditions could be to the discretion of the senate.
"Actually, the statement made by the prime minister when tabling Budget 2015 (on the new qualifying conditions for MUET) recently, was well received by all the universities.
"However, allowance can be given to their senate because based on the Universities and University Colleges Act, the senate has the power to determine the entry of students," he said after a working visit to Universiti Utara Malaysia.
Idris said the implementation would go on, but with flexibility given the current situation (short period for implementation).
When tabling Budget 2015, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that beginning next year, the general condition for student intake to the IPTA of at least Band 1 in MUET would be raised so as to increase their self-confidence and skills to communicate in the English language.
The new minimum qualification for Arts and Social Science studies is raised to Band 2 (and Band 3 to graduate) while for studies in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), it is raised to Band 3 (Band 4 to graduate) and Band 4 for Law and Medicine (Band 5 to graduate).
Idris said the ministry would meet with UKM's Institute of Malay World and Civilisation lecturer, Prof Dr Teo Kok Seong who disclosed that 604 Chinese and Indian participants of the National Service (NS) Training Programme could not speak Malay.
Idris said the ministry would thoroughly investigate why this situation happened and would take action to overcome the problem.
According to Teo, the study was made on 14,000 trainees at 79 NS training camps in 2010.
He said the inability of some trainees to communicate in nor understand Bahasa Melayu, resulted in the NS trainers being unable to deliver to them the module on nationhood and citizenship. - Bernama The STAR Home News Education 26 October 2014