by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung Lim Kit Siang, in Penana on Wednesday, 16th March 1994:
University of Malaya Council should pay heed to the serious concern of the Prime Minister over the plagiarism controversy and it should not become another MAAU in lacking the intellectual honesty and moral courage to deal responsibily with its 10-year plagiarism scandal
The University of Malaya is gravely damaging its reputation as a centre of excellence in its failure to grapple with the serious allegation of plagiarism against one of its 28 new professors.
The new University of Malaya Vice Chancellor, Datuk Dr. Abdullah Sanusi Ahmad had declared after his appointment that his mission is to continue the quest of the University of Malaya to become a centre of excellence.
Dr. Abdullah did not seem to realise that he has done such a quest the greatest disservice when he said last Thursday that the plagiarism controversy which had tarnished the university’s reputation was a private disputes and that, the university would leave it to the parties concerned to “fight it out in court”.
The Malaysian Amateur Athletics Union (MAAU) has been accused of intellectual dishonesty and moral cowardice in its failure to address complaints of sexual harassment of junior woman athletes. Has the University of Malaya Council become another MAAU in lacking the intellectual honesty and moral cour¬age to deal responsibly with its 10-year plagiarism scandal?
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed has expressed, his “serious view” of the plagiarism controversy in the University of Malaya when he said last Friday: “We do not condone plagiarism because it is not good. We must not, take this matter lightly.”
The University of Malaya Council should pay heed to the serious concern of the Prime Minister and demonstrate that it is not another MAAU in lacking the intellectual honesty and moral courage to deal seriously with the 10-year plagiarism scandal.
The University of Malaya Council should explain why it has disregarded the directive of the Minister of Education, Datuk Dr. Sulaiman Baud issued, only a week ago, that it should, set up a special, committee to re-examine the 10-year plagiarism scandal and to submit the report to him after Hari Raya.
The University of Malaya Council meeting last Thursday upheld its earlier decision on February 17 not to pursue the specific plagiarism allegation but instead to set up a committee, to look into the question of plagiarism in general and matters relating to the ethics of the academic staff.
This is a most unsatisfactory attempt to sweep the specific allegation of plagiarism against one of the university’s 23 new professors under the carpet.
The University of Malaya Council should either clear the new professor concerned of the charge, of plagiarism, which is the most heinous sin in academia, or take, appropriate action if the’ plagarism allegation is established.
Iif the University of Malaya Council members do not realise or understand that plagiarism allegations are not a pri¬vate-dispute, but a grave, university issue concerning its academic reputation, standards and ethics, then something is very wrong with the Council members. In fact, such persons are not fit to be in the University of Malaya Council.
The statement issued, after the University of Malaya Council meeting on the issue on February 17, 1994 is the height of irresponsibility.
The University of Malaya, statement of February 17 said:
“Majlis Universiti telah membincangkan perkara yang telah diheboh-hebohkan iaitu tuduhan tentang seorang pensyarah yang dinaikkan pangkat ke professor walaupun telah melakukan plagiarisma, dan berpendapatan:
(1) perkara ini telah berlaku kira-kira 10 tahun yang lalu dan satu tindakan mestilah sudah diambil pada masa itu oleh pihak univsrsiti yang memungkinkan seorang pensyarah dinaikkan pangkat ke jawatan professor madya;
(2) pertimbangan untuk kenaikan pangkat selanjutnya oleh Lembaga Kenaikan Pangkat adalah berdasarkan kerja-kerja yang telah dibuat dalam masa selepas perlantikan ke professor madya hingga sekarang. Atas pertimbangan ini seorang pensyarah apabila didapati layak akan dinaikkan pangkat ke professor.”
From this University of Malaya Council statement, it is clear that it had refused to deal with the plagiarism allega¬tion, claiming that the university concerned must have dealt with the matter when it happened ten. years ago.
What made the University of Malaya Council position indefensible is that the plagiarism scandal did not happen in other universities but in the Sociology and Anthropology Department, of the University of Malaya itself.
If action had already been taken by the University of Malaya with regard to the 10-year plagiarism scandal, then the University of Malaya should be able, to state the nature of the action, instead of hiding behind the meaningless wording of “satu tindakan mesti sudah diambil pada masa itu oleh pihak universiti yang memungkingkan seorang pensyarah. dinaikkan pangkat ke jawatan professor madya”.
The ball is ROW back in Datuk Dr. Sulaiman’s court – as to whether his directive to the University of Malaya Council to set up a special committee to re-examine the 10-year plagiarism scandal is an ‘empty and meaningless’ directive, and what steps the Education Minister proposes to take to ensure that the University of Malaya council members take their responsibilities seriously in the 10-year plagiarism scandal and to see that justice is done.