The Star Malaysia
IT IS a fallacy to think that universities and colleges do not provide a breeding ground for healthy discussions on current issues. This is evident for those who attended the forum titled 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP):
Responses from our Young Leaders held at the Blue Ocean Strategy Regional Centre in UCSI University recently.
UCSI lecturer Dr Ong Kian Ming, who moderated the session, said the objective of the forum was to bring politicians with different ideologies together and talk about issues of public interest.
“Events like this will give students good exposure on how ideas are debated in intellectual discussions,” said Dr Ong, who is a lecturer at the newly established Faculty of Economics and Policy Sciences in UCSI.
PhD student Chong Yen Yoon, who attended the forum, said the lively exchange of ideas was an eye-opener.
“The forum was interesting because it brought politicians with different ideologies to the same table to talk about issues on general interest,” said Chong, 30, who is pursuing his doctorate degree at Universiti Putra Malaysia.
During the forum, panelists Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua and Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) founding chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan piqued the audience’s interest by highlighting the strong points and lapses in the 10MP proposed recently.
Khairy started the ball rolling by saying that the devil of 10MP, like all the other plans that had been tabled, lay in its detail and execution.
Giving an example, he said that the lack of competent professionals could be the stumbling block in the Government’s plan to spur the growth of the private sector.
“We have many companies with potential in the country which do not have enough talented individuals to steer it to the next level,” he said.
Agreeing with Khairy’s statement, Pua said the country was facing a human capital problem which could not be resolved within a short period of time.
This led to the discussion on the standard of higher education in Malaysia.
According to Pua, the cause of the human capital problem could be traced to the “averaging down” of the quality of universities and colleges.
“More universities are being built without a proportionate increase in the standard of those institutions.
“Colleges are being upgraded to university college and eventually to university status easily while no improvements are made to the quality of their staff and student intake,” he said.
Proving his point, Pua added that Singapore had a high-performance workforce, although the country had half the number of universities in proportion to the population when compared to Malaysia.
On the solution to this human capital problem, Khairy said the proposal to set up the Talent Corporation was a timely effort by the Government to source top talents to work in Malaysia.
His remark was disputed by Pua who said that it was not enough to just bring back the talents.
“It has to be more about changing the culture of the institutions, whether it be in universities or government-linked companies,” he said.
He explained that the culture had to be more competitive where promotion was based on merit.
Meanwhile, Wan Saiful provided an interesting facet to the argument when he brought up the inconsistency in the Government’s plan to improve the quality of human capital.
“The Government has introduced measures to make it more difficult for foreign workers to enter Malaysia for jobs, on the pretext of keeping the market for locals.
“At the same time, the top positions are open for everyone, foreigners or Malaysians,” said Wan Saiful.
He said this move was contradictory because it could limit Malaysians to manual jobs and not progress to managerial positions.