Mahathir, you just insulted UM, USM, UPM, the nasi lemak seller, the roti canai maker, the…

“And the problem isn’t just endemic to Malaysia. On the contrary, the global unemployment rate among youths rose from a pre-crisis 11.7 percent in 2007 to a historic 13.2 percent in 2013. Today, the rate is three times that of adults and more than two times the overall global rate. To say that the administration of Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak is responsible for all this is insane and reflects just how desperate Mahathir is to get our youth to vote Pakatan Harapan into power. Seriously, I’m getting sick and tired of this old man”

THE THIRD FORCE

Dr Mahathir Mohamed is determined to prove that our country is going to the dogs. He wants those aged 30 and below to think that the ‘peculiarly’ high rate of unemployment among our youth is a reflection of the government’s failure to create enough jobs. To prove he’s right, he plucked some figures from out of thin air before implying that the situation was so bad, the government may just as well shut our universities down.

“We find that the unemployment rate among youth is very high. The unemployment rate among youth is three times higher than the national average. The national average is three per cent but for youths, it is 11 per cent,” he was reported saying.

According to him, it is the slashing of government funds to local universities that brought about a mismatch between the knowledge acquired by our youth and the requirements of the job market. Now, there is no doubt in my mind that he hinged these assumptions on his experience as Education Minister way back in the mid seventies. Back then, higher education was all about the expansion of our knowledge base and had nothing to do with sustainable development or community driven activity.

But that is what it’s all about these days. Today, researchers are determined to stretch horizons by helping communities develop self-sustaining habits. Unbeknown to Mahathir, local Institutions of higher learning in Malaysia have, for the past eight years or so, been striving to bridge the gap that exists between academia and the various communities that exist in our country to help reduce their dependence on government assistance.

Far from it, researchers themselves began to see the need to cap spending as their focus shifted from laboratory settings to community driven environments. Today, there rings a general consensus among academicians that every member of a community – be it the Uber community, the nasi lemak community, the industrial community or even the village community – plays a pivotal role in the development of society and cannot be ignored by the research community.

Yes, no longer is the Uber driver “just an Uber driver” or the nasi lemak seller someone you keep a ten foot pole distance from. Today, even the cattle farmer is an asset to research as he possesses insights into his field that you may want to tap into. Now, you don’t need RM10 million or even RM1 million to do that, do you? All you need is to get into his farm and share resources in ways that are mutually beneficial both to you and him.

That perhaps forms the basis to the Knowledge Transfer Programs (KTP) our universities are pursuing under the National Strategic Higher Learning Plan (PSPTN). Designed to promote self-sustaining attitudes all round, these programs have the potential of generating valuable research data as knowledge is commuted back and forth between researchers and other communities. With the abundance of resources made immediately available through collaborative efforts, funding is automatically slashed by magnitudes of thousands as the need for it is markedly reduced.

Get the idea?

Unless Mahathir intends to see more people unemployed by 2020, he needs to appreciate efforts by our government to foster self-sustaining attitudes among members of our communities. A large number of these communities may suffer in the next ten years or so as the majority of jobs we have today gradually fade into distant memories. If we do not foster symbiotic relationships between our communities, we could end up with a huge problem on our hands as youths refuse to participate in activity they were not trained to perform.

And the problem isn’t just endemic to Malaysia.

On the contrary, the global unemployment rate among youths rose from a pre-crisis 11.7 percent in 2007 to a historic 13.2 percent in 2013. Today, the rate is three times that of adults and over two fold the overall global rate. To say that the administration of Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak is responsible for all this is just insane and reflects how desperate Mahathir is to get our youth to vote Pakatan Harapan into power.

Seriously, I’m getting sick and tired of this old man.

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