KOTA KINABALU: The student body of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) wants the university’s outgoing vice-chancellor Dr D Kamarudin D Mudin’s tenure to be extended.
UMS Student Representative Council (MPP) president Muhd Jivean Johan Wira said Kamarudin, whose three-year tenure was shortened by a year, had contributed greatly to the university, particularly in getting UMS recognised internationally.
Jivean, who is representing some 17,000 students, said MPP was disappointed with the decision by the education ministry, adding it was not in line with the sixth core of the country’s higher education “halatuju” (direction).
“The minister’s decision is seen as not corresponding to the sixth core of restoring prestige in the nation’s higher education sector.
“The shortening of his tenure has caused many negative and unfounded perceptions against Kamarudin. This can damage not only his good name but also UMS’ image,” he told FMT.
He said MPP had learned from various sources that the decision to shorten his term was due to Kamarudin allegedly not executing his duties.
“That is not true. The students have seen for themselves how Kamarudin has successfully placed UMS as one of the 1,000 best universities in the world,” Jivean said.
A former anaesthetist, Kamarudin was appointed to the chair on June 19, 2017, becoming only the third Sabahan to hold the post. He will leave the office on July 29, one year earlier.
Speaking at a special session at the university last week, Kamarudin confirmed his term had been shortened, saying he was forced to make the announcement early to stop the spread of rumours.
“This issue has to be clarified because of wild gossip by certain people. I hope the university staff are not affected by this change and will continue carrying out their responsibilities.
“With regard to the shortening of my term as vice-chancellor, I agree with the decision made by Education Minister Maszlee Malik and believe the decision was made professionally, taking into account the interests of the university.”
Umno Supreme Council member Rahman Dahlan had slammed the decision to shorten his term without specifying any reason, saying such action was unnecessary since Kamarudin had proven to be a capable leader, who was dedicated to his work in the university.
Meanwhile, Jivean said, in UMS’ 25-year history, this was the first time that the university had been recognised by the QS World University Rankings 2020 to be among the top 1,000 universities globally, adding that this achievement was due to Kamarudin.
“He also stressed on aspects like research and publications, but, most importantly, he cared for the students’ welfare to the extent that there were no shortcomings. This was due to his initiatives.
“Students are the biggest stakeholders in a university. Hence, we have a right to influence UMS’ direction.
“The education ministry should solidify the university’s existing management structure. The academic world is not a field for those with political interests,” he said.
Jivean challenged the education ministry to prove that academic freedom still existed in Malaysia by extending Kamarudin’s term instead of shortening it.