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Presiden dan semua ahli exco PSSM mengucapkan Selamat Hari Deepavali dan Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri kepada semua ahli dan penyokong PSSM.

Maaf zahir batin, semoga sejahtera dan maju jaya.

 

19 Okt 2006

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Malaysiakini's interview with President of PSSM on the ASLI Report controversy
Better if EPU gives more rationales: academic

 

Alvin Yap

13 Oct 2006


More explanations from the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department revealing how it computes the bumiputera equity share will not only improve transparency but will also enhance public confidence in their data, said an academic today.

“One positive thing arising from the present Asli report controversy is that the public now knows roughly the methodology used by the EPU to compute the data,” said University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) professor Dr Abdul Rahman Embong.

“I hope more explanations will be forthcoming. It not only will improve transparency but will also enhance confidence in their data computation and our country’s standing internationally,” he said.

He was commenting on the fallout over the Asian Strategic and Leadership Institute’s Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) report on bumiputera equity share which it placed at 45% in contrast to the EPU’s figure of 18.9%.

The Asli figure drew severe criticism from Umno’s top brass over the past two weeks, and the study was eventually withdrawn by Asli president Mirzan Mahathir who said the study ‘was flawed’. Following this, CPPS director Dr Lim Teck Ghee resigned in protest.

“There are lessons to be learnt from the present episode,” said Abdul Rahman in an interview with malaysiakini.

Abdul Rahman, a sociologist and researcher, is principle fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (Ikmas) at UKM. He is also the president of the Malaysian Social Science Association (PSSM).

Abdul Rahman also noted the need to allow room for disagreement or difference with regards to reports by researchers which may not concur with official perspectives.

“We can attain progress if we allow that space to flourish. In this regard, a healthy dialogue is important,” he said.

‘Our responsibility’

Below is a question-and-answer session with Abdul Rahman:

Malaysiakini: Would you like to comment on Dr Lim's published studies?

Abdul Rahman: I can’t comment on the Asli study specifically as I haven’t had a chance to read it properly except for what is in the media. My comment is on research in general.

As a researcher, one’s responsibility is to report the findings objectively, provide a sound analysis, draw appropriate conclusions based on the findings and to defend it. At the same time, it is also important for the researcher to invite comments and criticisms to improve it as every study has its limitations.

Do you think academicians like yourself and others have the freedom to come out with reports that dissent with those of the government?

My experience in conducting research has been based on the principles I stated above. I think my colleagues also do the same. From my experience, there is space to do research and to come out with papers based on the findings.

Some of the findings and analysis may concur with official views, and some may not. That is the nature of scholarship. I think the government acknowledges the need for that because if there is room for disagreement or difference, we can attain progress if we allow that space to flourish. In this regard, a healthy dialogue is important.

Do you think academics now are going to ‘self-censor’ their reports and studies that have political ramifications?

Malaysia wants to move forward, and Malaysian universities want to be on the international radar screen. For that purpose, four Malaysian universities have been identified to be research universities. To achieve this, among others, we need to strengthen our research culture, promote good quality research, and uphold a conducive environment for freedom of enquiry.

I think researchers have to be ethical and truthful to their vocation by presenting the findings as they have been discovered. We will be doing a disservice to the profession and to the nation if we don’t do that.

But, of course, the way we conduct our research, the framework, methodology and the instruments used, etc, must be based on acceptable academic standards.

At the same time, the way we present the findings also matter, particularly how we position the study. The limitations of the study also need to be pointed out. All these constitute intellectual humility, honesty and integrity.

Whether a researcher will self-censor or not as a result of the present Asli episode is a matter of personal choice. But a conducive environment for serious enquiry needs to be promoted and protected if we want good quality research that is useful for the universities,the government and the country.

Do you think the academic world fears political backlashes from their reports in general?

I think we should continue to encourage level-headedness and to see the big picture. As researchers, it is our professional responsibility to continue doing our work to the best of our ability.

What is the level of transparency when it comes to accessing government data? What can be done to increase access?

Like many others, I wish there is greater accessibility to official data beyond what is published in official documents. There are lessons to be learnt from the present episode. One positive thing arising from the present controversy is that the public now knows roughly the methodology used by the EPU to compute the data.

I hope more explanations will be forthcoming. It not only will improve transparency but will also enhance confidence in the data and our country’s standing internationally.

Will this have a bearing on the quality of higher education in the country then?

The quality of education is a complex issue. However, research culture, research quality and research environment are part of the lifeblood of a university. They are necessary to help enhance the quality of higher education.


 

 

Report on the 16th Association of Asian Social Science Research Councils (ASSREC) Biennial Conference held in New Delhi, India, from 30th November to 2nd December 2005

The Conference was held at the Conference Hall, 2nd Floor, in the main building of the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR). The ICSSR, together with AASSREC, acted as hosts for the Conference. The Conference was held for three days and attended by about 30 participants from India, Pakistan, Australia, China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

The theme for the 16th Biennial Conference is The Challenges of Unemployment, in which 12 country papers, on the subject of unemployment in the respective countries, were presented.

The Malaysian Social Science Association sent two delegates to the Conference, namely: (i) Dr Mohd Hazim Shah, the Deputy President of PSSM, who attended on behalf of the PSSM’s President, and (ii) Dr Madeline Berma, a member of the Malaysian Social Science Association from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, who presented the country paper for Malaysia, entitled Challenges of Unemployment in Malaysia... More


Hope for a new paradigm?

By Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Embong
The Star, Nation, Tuesday March 28, 2006


THE much-awaited Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) will be unveiled at the current parliamentary session amid high expectations following the fuel price rise and other pressing problems. 

 The Plan's implementation period, 2006-10, is particularly strategic because we are now entering the second phase towards realising Vision 2020, to become a developed nation. 

 Also, this is the first plan formulated under the stewardship of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi since he took over as Prime Minister in late 2003. 

 High on the people's mind is to what extent the 9MP will address the fundamental issue of building a united Bangsa Malaysia or Malaysian Nation (NB: not the "Malaysian race" as often stated). 

 Simply put, Bangsa Malaysia is about nation building and moulding our ethnically and culturally diverse people into one nation with a collective national will, consciousness, shared identity and shared destiny... More


Malaysian studies in Sarawak
The Star, Sunday March 12, 2006


THE Malaysian Social Sciences Association and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) organised a two-day workshop on "New Research in Malaysian Studies" on Feb 27 and 28.

It was aimed at enhancing the research and analytical skills of the younger generation of lecturers as well as graduate students pursuing their Master's and PhDs in Malaysian Studies either here or abroad.

More than 18 papers were presented at the workshop with participants coming from several local universities.

The workshop was also attended by Japanese postgraduates who are working on topics related to Malaysia.

The Association team was led by its president Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Embong and vice-present Dr Diana Wong.

Unimas' Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS) and Social Sciences Faculty acted as co-organisers.

"This is the first collaboration between Unimas and the Association and we hope that it will lead to more cooperation between both parties.

"Social scientists in Sarawak feel a little isolated from their colleagues in the Peninsula and this is a good way for us to forge links," said IEAS director Assoc Prof James Chin.

He added that Unimas' strength lies in its location in Sarawak.

"We are the gateway to the whole of Borneo and we invite social scientists from other universities in Malaysia to come work with us here."

In many ways, he said, Borneo is the last frontier in social research.

"Compared to the Peninsula, we are under-studied,'' he added.

 
 
 

Member News

Congratulations to PSSM members Jomo K.S. and Terence Gomez on their UN appointments... More

 

Conferences

UKM-Mahidol 2
Second International Malaysia-Thailand Conference on Southeast Asian Studies
29 November to 1 December 2005 at UKM Bangi
... More

 

Workshops

Workshops for "Managing the Integration of Culture into Development Programmes"
Sponsors: SEAMEO-SPAFA & ASEAN Foundation
Dates of Workshops: May-October 2005 (in various ASEAN countries)... More

 

MSC

Fourth International Malaysian Studies Conference (MSC4) Conference Report by Dr Michelle Lee... More
Papers presented in MSC4 are available for download... More

 

MASGRAF

Website of Malaysia Studies Graduate Forum (MASGRAF)
The Forum is set up and run by post-graduate students... More

 

Special Announcement

1. Arrangements between PSSM and The Star newspaper
2. Routledge "Malaysian Studies" book series
... More

  
 
News from the USM social science community | Chin Yee Whah

  

Report on Syarahan Perdana (Inaugural Lecture) delivered by Prof Abdul Rahman Embong | Assoc Prof Diana Wong
 
Abstrak Syarahan Perdana
(Abstract of the Inaugural Lecture) | Prof Abdul Rahman Embong
 
STATEMENT FROM THE PSSM PRESIDENT ON THE IRAQ WAR
 
STATEMENT FROM THE PSSM PRESIDENT ON THE IRAQ WAR (in Bahasa Malaysia)
 
Berita PSSM 2003 Special Edition on the Iraq War
 
 
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