University of Malaya

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{{Infobox_University |name = University of Malaya |native_name = Universiti Malaya |image = Image:UMlogo.gif |motto = Ilmu Punca Kemajuan
"Knowledge is the Key to Success" |established = 1905 |type = Public |chancellor = Duli Yang Maha Mulia Paduka Seri Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Yusuff Izzuddin Shah Ghafarullahu-Lah |vice_chancellor = Datuk Rafiah Salim |city= Kuala Lumpur |country= Malaysia |campus= |enrollment= |website= | }}

The University of Malaya (Universiti Malaya in Malay; commonly abbreviated as UM or MU) is the first university in Malaysia, and is situated on a 750 acre (3.0 km²) campus in southwest Kuala Lumpur, the capital city. It is widely recognised as the top university in Malaysia, and many prominent Malaysians are alumni of UM.



The University of Malaya grew out of a tradition of service to society. Its predecessors, the King Edward VII College of Medicine established in 1905 and Raffles College in 1929, had been established to meet urgent demands, one in medicine and the other in education. When the two came together to form the University of Malaya in October 1949, this was so that they might perform together an even greater service — to help lay the foundations of a new nation by producing a generation of skilled and educated men. Hence, the University of Malaya was established on 8th October 1949 as a national institution to serve the higher education needs of the Federation of Malaya and Singapore.

The growth of the University was very rapid during the first decade of its establishment and resulted in the setting up of two autonomous Divisions in 1959, one located in Singapore (later becoming the National University of Singapore) and the other in Kuala Lumpur (retaining the name University of Malaya).

In 1960, the government of the two territories indicated their desire to change the status of the Divisions into that of a national university. Legislation was passed in 1961 founding the University of Malaya on 1st January 1962.

The University motto, "Ilmu Punca Kemajuan" (Knowledge is the Key to Success), reflects the philosophy of the University in its constant endeavour to seek knowledge in all fields to produce successful graduates and a successful nation.


Academic independence

In 2005, several notable academicians on faculty encountered trouble in dealing with the university. Kwame Sundram Jomo and Edmund Terence Gomez, in particular, encountered difficulty in dealing with the university administration, even though they were both tenured professors. Both had a record of being very critical of the Malaysian government.

Gomez had been about to join the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) in Geneva, Switzerland, and requested secondment from the university. However, despite having received strong assurances from the Vice-Chancellor that it would be given, his application was rejected. His wife, who was also on faculty and had requested unpaid leave so she could join her husband, also was turned down.

As a result, Gomez decided to resign his position at the university with a "heavy heart". He had earlier publicly stated he was "deeply disappointed with the unprofessional, non-consultative, high-handed and autocratic behaviour of the university authorities," and that the matter represented a "serious case of victimisation and abuse of power by the university authorities." The UM Academic Staff Association (PKAUM) issued a statement saying that "Gomez is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill lecturer" and that "[e]very effort should be made by the University of Malaya's management to retain him at the university". PKAUM also called for direct intervention of the Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, himself a UM alumnus.

Jomo, who had also been appointed to the UN as Assistant Secretary-General (Economic Development), had resigned earlier after he had also been given the cold shoulder by the university.

The university had also found itself beset by problems relating to intellectual independence that other public universities in Malaysia also faced. In particular, the "aku janji" ("I promise") pledge that all faculty were forced to take had been condemned by some quarters as straitjacketing intellectual freedom of thought.



The University was ranked 89th in the World University Ranking 2004 published by the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES). However, it dropped 80 places to 169th in the 2005 rankings. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, a University of Malaya alumni, expressed concern over the University's sudden drop in ranking, but the university's Vice-Chancellor, Dr Hashim Yaakob, was quoted as saying he was "not worried". It was later confirmed that the university's drop was due to an error in calculating the rankings the previous year, as local Chinese and Indian students were counted among international students. Elsewhere in the rankings, the University of Malaya placed 45th in the Arts and Humanities category, and 83rd in Social Science. If the error in international student population is taken into consideration, then the correct place for University of Malaya in the 2004 THES ranking is about 250, and should not be included in the best 200 list.

Dr Hashim Yaakob also stated that "the university's overall score had increased to 23.5 from 16.6 last year." However, some skeptical critics pointed out that the scores were normalised based on the score of the number one university (Harvard), and that without such normalisation, the University's score would be 23.5; once the score was normalised, however, it would be in the vicinity of 16. Later, Hashim was quoted by The Star as saying that he wanted "to share my happiness with you that although there are so many universities in the world, we are number 169," and according to The Star, expressed "great happiness".


The University's ranking drop was viewed as an embarrassment by some, as it had placed an advertisement in the New Straits Times a few months before the release of the 2005 rankings, touting the University's 2004 ranking of 89th and listing some of its famous alumni. The University had also erected several billboards on its campus with the slogan "UM Bertaraf Dunia" ("UM is world-class"). This advertising campaign was part of the University's centennial celebrations.

Soon after the announcement of the 2005 THES rankings, seven billboards were immediately erected around the University campus congratulating the University faculty and students because "UM is World's Top 200 Universities". The billboard also congratulated the University for being among the top 100 in Arts & Humanities, Biomedicine and Social Science. Some billboards featuring Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak and Higher Education Minister Shafie Salleh that had been left over from the centennial celebrations were also commandeered for this purpose, with posters congratulating the university tacked onto them.

As events developed, opposition leader in Parliament of the Democratic Action Party (DAP), Lim Kit Siang, called for the sacking of the Vice-Chancellor, Hashim Yaacob, for acting irresponsibly. He later cited Hashim's action of hanging 150 buntings and banners on lamp posts around the campus and his distributing thousands of leaflets praising UM for being "terbilang di dunia" (world-class) as further proof Hashim was acting irresponsibly. Lim called it "shocking and unbecoming" and said the university campus had been turned into a "Disneyland".

Varsity anthem

University Malaya
Kebanggaan kita semua
Bertambah para ilmuwan
Di pelbagai lapangan

Kami bertekad di hati
Mencapai cita murni
Tradisi kecemerlangan
Menepati wawasan

Di sini kami sedia berbakti
Terus berinovasi
Kami harapan generasi muka
Teras nusa dan bangsa

Varsiti kesayanganku
Sungguh banyak jasamu
Membentuk insan mulia
Berilmu berbudaya

Notable alumni

Notable faculty members

  • Wang Gungwu, a former Professor of History at the Department of History (left UM in 1968). Prof. Wang is currently the Director of East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore.
  • Ho Peng Yoke, a former Professor of Chinese at the Department of Chinese Studies. Prof. Ho is the Director Emeritus of Needham Research Institute, Cambridge.
  • Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former Professor at the Faculty of Economics and Administration (left UM in 2004). Prof. Jomo is currently the Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
  • Terence Edmund Gomez, an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Economics and administration. He is currently one of the six research coordinators at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD).
  • Khoo Kay Kim, a former Professor of Malaysian History at the Department of History. Retired in 2001.

See also


External links

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