FREEDOMFILMFEST2020: PRA-ACARA

PRE – EVENT: LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION! BELIA WANITA IN ACTION!

CIVICA Research telah bekerjasama dengan Freedom Film Network untuk mengadakan FreedomFilmFest2020 secara maya (online).

Bagi meraikan acara utama yang diadakan pada 12 Disember 2020, CIVICA Research, dengan sokongan Freedom Film Network, telah mengatur pra-acara ini bersama tiga belia wanita Orang Asli yang berasal dari Semenanjung Malaysia.

Pra-acara: LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION! BELIA WANITA IN ACTION! membawa fokus perbincangan “Memperkasakan suara Wanita Muda kaum Orang Asli dan juga penglibatan wanita Orang Asli dalam filem”.

Ahli panel yang hadir dalam acara ini ialah Sherry (Sherry Tan A/P Tan Hock Khee), Anis (Maranisnie Mohsin), Yana (Yaliyana Lenab). Mereka adalah sebahagian daripada sekumpulan belia wanita Orang Asli di sebalik filem pendek SELAI KAYU YEK dan KLINIK KU HUTAN.

Pra-acara ini ditayangkan di Youtube secara langsung pada 27 November 2020, 3.00 petang.

FREEDOMFILMFEST2020: EVENT

SPILL THE TEA: EMPOWERING YOUNG INDIGENOUS WOMEN IN SARAWAK

FreedomFilmFest (FFF), Malaysia’s leading international human rights documentary film festival was held via CLOUDTHEATRE from 10 December 2020 till 13 December 2020 with a diverse line-up of bold and brave new films from the very best of local, regional and international filmmakers shall be screened.

In continuation to the pre-event held on 30 November 2020, CIVICA Research held another session on the 12 December 2020 along with fellow panellists: Celine Lim and Taro Ringgit. The objective of the discussion was to empower young native women in Sarawak in community engagement work at the grassroot level.

The session was broadcasted in Cloudtheatre on the same day.

Autonomous Universities – Are We Ready?(6 October 2018)

Muhd Fadhil Abdul Rahman, CIVICA Research Associate & Senior Research Officer, Merdeka Center

The idea of having autonomous universities is to empower universities in decision-making, to produce generations of employable graduates according to one’s focus and capacity, and to reduce reliance on the federal government – especially in terms of funding and infrastructure.

May 9th signified a momentous occasion in Malaysia. The rapid, unexpected change delivered overnight, sent shockwaves throughout the country – but as time passes by, the ups and downs indicate a tumultuous, yet unpredictable future ahead.

A similar aura of uncertainty is taking shape across our education sector, as the recent announcement regarding autonomous universities highlighted the forward-thinking Pakatan Harapan government’s desire to witness greater self-control within each institution.

A desire, which needs proper, adequate, controlled measures to be implemented.

The move, unprecedented and widely embraced at once, is a push in the right direction, enabling greater participation among local stakeholders – university’s management, staffs, students, alumni and community alike.

Despite the autonomous status accorded to all 20 public universities, clarification is required on key aspects, particularly in the post-BN era[1]. The idea of having autonomous universities is to empower universities in decision-making, to produce generations of employable graduates according to one’s focus and capacity, and to reduce reliance on the federal government – especially in terms of funding and infrastructure.

The buck stops here, or will it?

It is important to recognise the level of financial independence, or lack thereof, of our public universities. The embedded culture of prying upon federal funds for management, maintenance and R&D purposes lead to the sad state of endowments in universities.

A startling revelation by the former Higher Education Minister, Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh presented a worrying trend. As of June 2017, the total endowment of all public universities was RM 1.85 billion, with Universiti Malaya heading the pack with a collection of RM 1.6 billion (86.5% out of the total).

Next in line was Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), with an endowment of RM 71 million – a far cry from the leader[2].

As Malaysians await 2019 Budget Presentation on November 2nd, all eyes would surely be etched on the allocations for public universities – but this annual bout of nervousness requires long-term rectification if we are serious about establishing world-class tertiary institutions, those brave enough to seek alternative methods to secure resources, moving forward.

Discussions on the key areas of paradigm shift, strategic planning and innovation must be complemented by internal commitment as well as utmost dedication displayed by the public universities, in crafting their own success stories.

Commitment to self-sustain, dedication to innovate, initiative to collaborate – driven by motivation to be the best, and stay at the top.

By now, the term ‘Malaysia Baru’ could be interpreted as an afterthought. Conversely, the quest for our public universities have just began, as we take baby steps towards greatness.

1.         Introduction

  • Impact of May 9th to the nation
  • Perspective of higher education – before and after, expectation

2.        Backdrop of current higher education outlook (govt and pvt)

  • Statistics
  • Employability
  • Starting Salaries etc
  • Management of govt and private institutions

3.         Issues with current system – public institutions

  • Funding
  • Self-dependency
  • Innovation
  • Bureaucracy
  • Internal politics
  • Aim to move forward

4.   What to expect with new status, and what is the government’s role at present?

  • Autonomy – in what sense?
  • Timeline, readiness, student output, financial sustainability, goal-setting

5.         What should be done, eventually?

  • Clear projection
  • Set reasonable goals (finance, student enrolment, industry engagement, long-term focus)
  • Do’s and dont’s

All 20 public universities (UA) in the country have been accorded autonomous status after six UA received their autonomous status letters from the Education Ministry.

The ministry in a statement said the autonomous status gives power to the University Board of Directors (LPU) and the University Board of Governors to make their own decisions.

“The autonomy is a delegation of power to enable universities move more effectively towards excellence and empower these institutions towards global level.

“The autonomous status also enable universities to be more flexible in making decisions to determine their direction including finance and human resource management,” it said.

According to the statement, even though UA have the power to management their resources without referring to a central agency, UA should adhere to basic principles as UA autonomy is not absolute and they are still subject to the government and ministry policies and strategies on higher education.

The UA autonomous programme had been introduced since 2012 under the National Higher Education Strategic Plan for paradigm shift of UA towards more effective higher education management.

“The delegation of power was conducted in stages as it required negotiations between the Education Ministry and other central agencies,” it said.

Before this, 14 UA have obtained their respective autonomous status.

The six universities which received their autonomous letters are Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA), Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK), Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM), Universiti Perguruan Sultan Idris (UPSI), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP). –Bernama

Related Links:


[1] http://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/all-public-universities-granted-autonomous-status

[2] http://english.astroawani.com/malaysia-news/rm1-85-billion-collected-public-universities-endowment-funds-151691

(This article was first published on October 6, 2018.)

State Of The Local Universities: An Honest Reflection (3 August 2017)

Muhd Fadhil Abdul Rahman, CIVICA Research Associate & Senior Research Officer, Merdeka Center

In addition, the methods of teaching should be broadened to incorporate two-way communication as a staple – as outlined by the idea of blended learning and utilization of e-technology highlighted in the Malaysian Education Blueprint (Higher Education) 2015-2025.

Malaysia’s education system has been noted as one of the most organized and structured in Asia. The effort to spur growth of Malaysian education is governed by the Malaysian Education Blueprint, which intends to spark a new trend in the way young Malaysians learn and acquire knowledge, while developing necessary skills and competencies to enhance future marketability. The massive hard work put in by the Government (under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education), in collaboration with state and local education authorities / agencies is reaping the rewards. At present, there is a number of local public universities recognized as among the top global higher learning institutions, while the critical approach formulated to develop higher-order thinking skills among school-going students is widely acknowledged.

Truth be told, significant progress has been made at local institutions in terms of research output (number of publications, innovative products, patents and international awards) as well as soft-skill development of students / undergraduates. These are key criteria towards being recognized as sophisticated and up-to-date institutions, and most academicians and students have taken up the challenge. Yet there are multiple aspects which require immediate rectification, pertaining to the academic and administrative components of the local universities, especially the public ones.

Regarding the content of courses being taught in local universities, it is common to see the same topics and syllabus being presented to the students over a certain period of time, sometimes up to 5 to 10 years. This issue is highly discouraging, as it exposes the lacklustre efforts to assimilate the current industrial trends and academic research with the needs of university students. In addition, the methods of teaching should be broadened to incorporate two-way communication as a staple – as outlined by the idea of blended learning and utilization of e-technology highlighted in the Malaysian Education Blueprint (Higher Education) 2015-2025.

At the same time, the level of participation of students in academic / course-oriented programs and events must be improved. As observed in Malaysian universities, particularly public institutions, students are only interested in regular activities that satisfy their academic requirements (e.g. classes, lab sessions, examinations, assignments etc). Thus, there may be issues related to application of knowledge in real-world setting, as well as truly internalizing the concepts presented in a certain subject. By engaging these students in alternative learning methods such as visits, topic / course-based competitions, conferences and symposiums from an early stage of undergraduate life, they will realize the importance and relevance of their subjects, and pay greater attention towards enhancing their capabilities.

Another point of consideration is the quality of research output, with regards to the academic content, commercialization and impact towards society. More often than not, the studies being conducted and presented as findings are kept within the bounds of academic world, and not well-disseminated to the public as reliable and concrete solutions for day-to-day problems. Also, the studies, which are often funded by government grants, do not seem to provide financial sustainability for the researchers and affiliated institutions. Thus, there is a real need for researchers and postgraduate students alike to learn the best ways of marketing real-world solutions to the world.

One more aspect that local higher learning institutions must overcome is the overdependence on government support, primarily in terms of financial assistance. The recent cost-cutting measures implemented by the Malaysian government on higher education sector dictates the current operations in universities, which are suffering because of the surprise move. The university administrators must realize that this era requires independent effort from all associated parties to ensure the long-term success and sustainability. Efforts to generate income should be stimulated by the universities themselves, through association with alumni, private organizations or foreign-based institutions. Extreme care shown by the government must be tolerated by the universities, by showcasing the real abilities of the academic population.

Finally, universities should gauge closer relationships with industry players and professionals to identify any noticeable lapse in existing curriculum and work on relevant skill set of students. These two issues are prevalent among undergraduates especially, as highlighted by employers. As the focal point of future workforce, universities (both public and private) must establish clear agreements and mechanism to provide mutual benefits. This shall lead to a positive outcome for the nation, and help to drive the country in order to achieve modernization.

Higher education is an important component of a country’s progress. The inability to adapt to current and future climate of modern environment may hinder our desired vision of being a developed nation within the next few years, as we might fail to produce the competent and relevant talents required for upcoming plans. Universities have to accept the fact that change is the only constant in the global world, and act accordingly to push towards greater academic status and more progressive values that benefits global population. Consequently, Malaysia and its higher learning institutions will be known as more than just ‘universities’, and shall lead to a dawn of a new era within the realm of academic institutions worldwide.


(This article was first published on August 3, 2017.)

Time to Implement Wholesome Employment and Job Market Reforms (28 March 2019)

Muhd Fadhil Abdul Rahman, CIVICA Research Associate & Senior Research Officer, Merdeka Center

Inadequate pay, rising costs, difficulties in obtaining job interviews and placements, significant increase in usage of foreign labour, need to bolster offering of hi-skilled workers and rise in household debt are well-explained, yet require continuing policy measures to be undertaken, with close monitoring by the rightful authorities.

The Central Bank’s Annual Report has, by now, become one of the most awaited publications in the nation. Year after year, the presented findings trigger feedback from various stakeholders who are eager to highlight arising issues – primarily those related to public interest such as cost of living, rate of employment, job segmentation, debt figures and of course, salaries and wages.

Similarly, the 2018 edition of the document, released to the masses yesterday (March 27th) revealed recurring matters, those associated with aforementioned topics. Inadequate pay, rising costs, difficulties in obtaining job interviews and placements, significant increase in usage of foreign labour, need to bolster offering of hi-skilled workers and rise in household debt are well-explained, yet require continuing policy measures to be undertaken, with close monitoring by the rightful authorities.

While the political direction in the national arena remain somewhat uncertain and erratic, those responsible for strengthening (or renewing) the economic agenda must consider trend-changing alternatives. Within this realm, employers should offer compassion and resources to enhance human capital development organically.

As unrealistic or impossible as these suggestions may be, the players involved could consider these ideas:

  1. Offer state-based minimum wage. Different states have different levels of input and vary in terms of day-to-day living costs, thus standardising the minimum pay rate across the board is slightly unfair for those seeking opportunities in the urban areas.
  • Provide recommended pay scale for positions in all industries. By publishing these adjusted figures based on expertise, academic background, professional qualifications and other relevant criteria, there will be a minimum threshold – enabling prospective employees to estimate their earnings and pressure employers to treat their workers rightfully.
  • Upgrade employee benefits to reflect current needs. Rather than depending on the government schemes to provide monetary assistance, especially to those classified in the B40 and M40 groups, employers could allocate certain resources for their dedicated employers – i.e. educational scholarships or allowances for employees’ children, housing allowances or placements, travel allowances, special allocation for basic household needs etc.
  • Ensure the future generation (school-going kids, undergraduates and trainees) are well-equipped to face employment challenges, by readying them with suitable skills aligned with their interests. These groups should be allowed to participate in the employment sector through exposure to industries, as they recognise their passion from an early stage – driving towards planned career growth.
  • Broaden intake of local workers into the labour force, primarily those dominated by foreigners. With the rise of automation and the necessity to employ jobless youths, locals shall be prioritised over outsiders to help stimulate the economy. Reports of substantial ringgit outflow amounting to more than RM 100 billion from the year 2011 onwards could have been spent on empowering fellow Malaysians, particularly the young adults who are faced with financial constraints.
  • Emphasise emerging industries on top of manufacturing and services, and develop specialised talents in sectors with high demand. The ever-consistent comments of ‘employees or candidates need to be retrained or possess insufficient skills’ for particular jobs should be replaced by genuine critique on the outstanding ability of talents to grasp concepts and innovate – built upon strong knowledge-based foundation.

We do expect the projected growth of the nation to be channelled down to the masses. The ultimate goals of removing the needy from hardship and uplifting the quality of life altogether can only be realised through prudent yet effective economic reforms, utilising the strengths and capacities of all stakeholders – with the cooperation of employers and industries who are equally focused at boosting the livelihood of all Malaysians

(This article was first published on March 28, 2019.)