Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Spotlight on UiTM VC

After reading about UiTM students protesting against the Selangor MB's proposal to open up 10% of the places at UiTM to non-Malays, I decided to do a bit of 'investigative reporting' on UiTM. Initially I wanted to write about the philosophy of UiTM and how it might or might not be compatible with allowing non-Malays into UiTM. I'll write about this in part II of this spotlight but for Part I, I want to point our readers to the qualifications of the current VC of UiTM, Dato' Seri Prof Dr Ibrahim Abu Shah.

The esteemed VC lashed out at Khalid Ibrahim saying that "UiTM was the last educational bastion for the Malays and other Bumiputeras to help change their lot, hence no quarters should interfere with its founding objectives and administration."

So I thought that it was fair game for us to take a closer look at the qualifications of the VC. It is not the first time that the VC has appeared on this blog. Tony has highlighted him before here, here and here.

His VC webpage can be accessed here and he has been the VC of UiTM since 2001. He is an UiTM 'lifer', if you will. He graduated with a Diploma in Public Administration from ITM in 1971 (before ITM achieved its current university status). He then worked as an Executive Officer in the Malaysian Treasury from 1971 to 1972. He then left to further his studies in the US and obtained his BA in Economics from Ohio University in 1974 and an MA in Sociology from the same university in 1975 (must have been a good student to finish a BA and MA in 3 years!).

He then came back and was the deputy dean of students affairs at ITM Shah Alam, the site of its current flagship campus from 1976 to 1982. He then transitioned to a senior lecturer from 1981 to 1991. During this time, he took leave and obtained his PhD from the University of Maryland in Government and Politics. (For those of you who don't know, Maryland is a pretty good state university and I know that their polisci department is pretty good as well)

The title of his dissertation was:

"The use of higher education as an intervention strategy in the economic development of a plural society : a case study of Mara Institute of Technology in the economic policy of Malaysia"

In fact, this piece of work is the only academic reference I could find for the esteemed VC when I did a google scholar search under his name.

Upon his return from the US, newly minted PhD in hand, he was made the Provost of ITM Sarawak. During this time, I'm guessing that ITM expanded throughout the country in an aggressive manner. He was made the Deputy VC (Academics) in 1998 and because VC in 2001.

So, let's summarize his work and life experience thus far. He got his diploma from ITM and apart from one year at the Malaysian treasury and his time in the US, he has worked in an ITM all of his adult life.

His homepage gives a list of his publications including the must read "Gaya Hidup Remaja Masa Kini. (1997) Shah Alam: Biroteks, Institut Teknologi MARA" and "Pendidikan Bermutu Masyarakat Sejahtera. (1990) Kuching: Education Department, Sarawak". None of his publications are with a recognized refereed journal or publisher. Most, if not all of his publications, are with local publishers including UiTM, his own institution. Almost all of his publications have to do with his favorite subject, you guessed it - ITM.

Having established his academic credentials, which are of course worthy of a Professorship, let's examine some of his other, "credentials". This is what is listed under 'political contributions'.

1. UMNO Member (1968 - present)
2. Youth Leader, UMNO Kg. Pulai (1981- 1983)
3. Committee Member, UMNO Youths Jasin, Melaka (1982 - 1983)
4. Chairman (Founder) UMNO Club, Carbondale USA (1983)
5. President, UMNO USA Club (1985 - 1987)

So apart from being an ITM 'lifer', he is apparently an UMNO 'lifer' as well including being the founder of the UMNO Club in the US, probably in the first year of his PhD in Maryland.

Under 'outside contributions', he is listed as being an "Exco of Alumni UMNO Club (oversea) (1995 – present)". Ironically he is also a member of the "Committee of Advisor National Unity (Panel) February 2007 – December 2008" and an occasional speaker at BTN forums. Boy, what would I give to be a fly in the wall in one of his BTN lectures.

Under 'forums and talks', the following is listed:

"Talk to all Malaysians UMNO division heads about "Gerakan Anti Kerajaan Pelajar-Pelajar di Kampus-Pengalaman UiTM" – 15 November 2001"

If having an in-depth knowledge of the inner workings of UiTM and being a loyal UMNO supporter are qualifications for the position of the VC of UiTM, the esteemed VC is probably the most qualified person in the universe. But if academic experience and an open outlook are the criteria, then... you guys finish the sentence.

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