Monday, April 6, 2009

Not too late to safe IIUM...



by: Concerned Muslim |

It is no secret that higher education in Malaysia is in bad shape. Many reasons for this decline have been given by policy-makers, intellectuals and others. And many have offered solutions to the problem. Strangely, however, few have seriously discussed the question of poor academic and administrative leadership as one of the factors.

And nowhere is bad leadership as obvious as it is at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). That was why several colleagues and I held a special prayer of thanks when the government decided to appoint the honourable Mohd Sidek Hassan as president of IIUM. He is an unassuming man without political baggage and with an unassailable record of wise and effective leadership in the Malaysian civil service. But even he needs feedback.

Executive leadership of an institution of learning, especially one aspiring to be internationally-recognised and respected, requires one to have proven himself or herself an internationally-respected scholar, a qualification which all IIUM’s former leaders could lay some claim to.

That is the most basic qualification for a leader of any academic institution. Now, to head an institution with the vision of restoring Islamic leadership in the world of learning, a person needs another qualification that is equally essential.

He or she needs to prove an ability to discourse on issues that are of scholarly interest to the Muslim ummah. This requires at least some familiarity with Arabic. It is not essential that he or she speak perfect Arabic but he or she should understand it enough to be comfortable with those who speak it. The previous rector, Prof Kamal Hassan, has this ability although he doesn’t speak good Arabic.

I think any reasonable person can agree that the leadership of the IIUM requires someone who has proven himself as a scholar in his chosen field, has a more-than-rudimentary knowledge of the Islamic religion and Islamic scholarly concerns, and a knowledge of Arabic which, after all, is one of the major world languages. Does the IIUM have such a person?

Then there is the matter of the appointment of faculty deans particularly for the Centre for Foundation Studies and the Faculty of Economics among others. Some of these appointments were made in the face of open protests by the academic staff.
I am asking the powers-that-are responsible not to take my word for this; they should talk to the deputies and the academic staff.

March 2009 is indeed a crucial time for IIUM. Its future hangs in the balance. Will it prosper towards being a truly world-class international institution or it will deteriorate further to a mere brand name and the repeating of a slogan devoid of any substance?

It is obvious to every thinking student, academic and general member of the ummah that IIUM has been going down the drain for the past three years. World-class scholars of international reputation have been deserting IIUM to the extent that some of the faculties are left with only junior academicians.

About half of the economics scholars have left – a very significant number indeed. A significant percentage of academicians of the formerly prestigious Istac has also left, including the internationally-acclaimed local-born scholar, Prof Dato Osman Bakar.

Other faculties are also losing their top brass scholars. Again, do not take my word for it. Anyone who is interested can check the facts and figures independently. The interested person should also check on the number of scholars who have chosen to leave, some of them for less lucrative jobs.

Anyone concerned with the plight of IIUM – and that ought to include every member of the ummah – has to pose this question, ‘What has gone wrong with an institution that once held such a great promise of excellence. The previous three rectors were each formidable in their own right. Everyone of them contributed significantly to the growth and accomplishments of IIUM.

The current team (some of them do not even have proper undergraduate degrees) talk a lot about comprehensive excellence, especially in research so that IIUM can be a research university at par with USM, UM and UKM. However, they fail to understand that a university can never excel if it does not have the required brains in the form of top-notch scholars.

These are very rare commodities and are intensely hunted by universities worldwide. Most of these scholars are not after money, but they do need a conducive environment in which to work and do research. They must be given their due respect and recognition. Otherwise, they will just go away. And the past three years of IIUM history has proven this.

There are a few who have not moved for practical reasons, but their morale is low and no significant output can be expected from them.

And then there is the question of proper use of funds. I am certain the statistics will show that IIUM in the past three years has spent hundreds of thousands of ringgit on travelling expenses. We would be happy if IIUM can reveal actual comparative statistical data on this matter.

IIUM has also been striving to increase its income from its business arm, IIUM Holdings. However, instead of using for good causes what little money that has come in from business ventures, members of the top management are filling up their pockets in form of bonuses amounting to tens of thousands of ringgit.

This may or may not be legal, but it is certainly immoral. Never was such a thing seen during the time of the former management.

IIUM, as an international and Islamic institution, should set a high standards in all its activities. It has the duty to correct and dispel the perception that links Islam with negative connotations such as intellectual, social, economic and moral backwardness.

The government of Malaysia that hosts and funds IIUM should take positive steps to bring back the respect and honour the university once enjoyed.

It should, first and foremost, set up a committee to select the right candidates to serve IIUM at the top level. Unlike with other public universities, there is no committee for the selection of the IIUM’s top leaders. The prime minister chooses to appoint anyone he likes.

IIUM still holds a lot of promise, and the ummah is hoping and praying for it to achieve the glory it deserves. We only hope that the Malaysian government will not kill this goose that lays the golden eggs. It is not too late.

Article taken from Malaysiakini.

KOMEN:

Penulis begitu tertarik berdasarkan penelitian isi kandungan surat yang agak kritikal ini. Sudah lama sebenarnya mencari surat ini kerana salah seorang pensyarah penulis ada memberitahu perkara ini.

Bagaimana reaksi kita para mahasiswa Taman Ilmu dan Budi? Sudah terang lagikan bersuluh. Melihatkan kepada situasi kekurangan mendadak pensyarah-pensyarah terkenal di Kuliyyah Ekonomi 'melarikan diri' membawa diri ke tempat lain. Lingkungan 11 orang dalam masa 2tahun? Bayangkan?

Penulis dapat mengagak siapakah gerangan pensyarah yang bagi pendapat penulis sudah mual dan sedih dengan 'response' daripada pihak pentadbiran lantas menyuarakan isu ini di media massa seperti Malaysiakini. Insya-Allah penulis akan berjumpa dan bertanyakan hal ini.

Harapnya betul...

Bercakap soal kewangan. Agak malang bagi pihak kami (mahasiswa) yang sememangnya terlibat dalam pengurusan program dan aktiviti di kampus mengalami kesukaran dalam memperoleh dana untuk sesuatu acara. Baik daripada sumber tahunan dan juga 'reimbursement' yang tidak kunjung-kunjung tiba.

Ada sebahagian daripada Presiden Kelab dan Kuliyyah menyuarakan masalah ini kepada penulis. Sememangnya perkara ini harus diambil berat dan dipandang serius oleh pihak pentadbiran. Segelintir kelab pula meminta bantuan khas daripada lecturers kuliyyah untuk menampung dana kelab dan persatuan.

Harapan penulis untuk melihat kepada isu dan permasalahan ini dapat diselesaikan dengan sebaiknya melalui pendekatan yang berhikmah.Pihak yang bertanggungjawab seharusnya memberi maklum balas dan bertindak reaktif dalam menangani hal ini . Konsep win-win situation perlu diamalkan sepenuhnya oleh pihak universiti baik melibatkan mahasiswa, pensyarah, pekerja am dan sebagainya.

Sayangkan UIAM...

Ahmad Fahmi Mohd Samsudin
Library UIAM

p/s: masih menunggu duit RM330 daripada Kuliyyah.....

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