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UMS in tense mood following self-conduct E-polls to name new VC

By Chris Maskilone

KOTA KINABALU: There is a sense of tension in Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) right now, as a group claiming to represent its academic staff has conducted its own E-polling to select the new Vice Chancellor.

The action of the Himpunan Ilmuan UMS (HiUMS) however has drawn flak from another group known as the UMS Academic Staff Association (PSAUMS).

A source told SabahNewsToday that PSAUMS had written to Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik on Tuesday (June 18) to express its disappointment with HiUMS’ action, which it said not only unauthorised but tantamount to going above Dr Maszlee’s ministerial power.

Through the polls (using google forms), PSAUMS said HiUMS had breached various regulations including revealing when the term of present Vice Chancellor, Prof Datuk D Kamaruddin D Muddin is expiring.

The source said PSAUMS had also told the Minister that through the statement by HiUMS president Associate Prof Dr Abdullah Bade in the SabahNewsToday dated June 17, they have also revealed that Kamaruddin’s term would not be extended.

PSAUMS said at the same breath the HiUMS president had also painted the wrong picture by urging the Minister to come down to UMS more often.

As far as PSAUMS is concerned, it noted that Dr Maszlee had attended various UMS functions together with Kamaruddin since the Pakatan Harapan formed the Federal Government, said the source.

The source said PSAUMS told Dr Maszlee that HiUMS was only formed this year and did not represent the whole academic staff in UMS.

Its formation had resulted in duplication of roles with PSAUMS and caused a rift among the academic staff in UMS, said the source.

As of PSAUMS, the source said it has been in existence for quite some time and has a representative sitting in the Joint-Department Council until December 2020.

PSAUMS is also an affiliate members of both the Malaysian Academic Association Congress (MAAC) and Malaysian Academic Movement (Gerak). It has exco seats in both organisations.

The source said the E-polling conducted by HiUMS had been described by many academicians in UMS as ‘dangerous’ since the ‘candidates’ nominated by HiUMS did not include other more senior staff who are non-Muslims.

Furthermore, many of those “nominated” were not even inform about it, which according to PSAUMS had breached the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 : Act 709, said the source.

“There are better things to do than to be involved in this kind of politics. We are academicians not politicians,” said the source quoting the sentiment of many UMS academicians when asked to participate in the e-polls.

It is also learnt that the HiUMS had also written a letter to Dr Maszlee, which was enclosed with a memorandum that was basically summarised by its president’s statement in SabahNewsToday.

For PSAUMS, it was leaving the appointment to the discretion of the Education Minister.

Nonetheless, PSAUMS did say that it hoped there will be new faces be it for the Vice Chancellor or deputy Vice Chancellor posts who would be able to rectify the present shortcomings and rifts in UMS, said the source.-SabahNewsToday