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Home > Tamil National ForumSelected Writings - Professor P Ramasamy > Unjust Termination of contract as Professor

Tamil National Forum

Selected Writings by Prof P.Ramasamy

Unjust Termination of Contract as Professor

5th August 2005

"...Given my extensive writings on the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, I was appointed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to its Constitutional Affairs Committee in 2003. We were entrusted with the task of formulating an Interim Administration Proposal for the North-East of Sri Lanka so that that the peace process could re-commence..."

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in a letter dated 27th July 2005 terminated my contract of employment as a professor in the Centre for History, Political Science and Strategic Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities with effect from 26th August 2005. Following my mandatory retirement on 10th May 2005, I was given a month-to-month contract for two years (10th May 2005 to 9th May 2007) subject to the approval of the University’s Board, Public Services Department, Department of Higher Education and the University’s Management (letter dated 31st May 2005).

This abrupt and sudden termination of my contract goes against the practice and the policy of UKM that provides for a two-year contract for professors who have completed their Syarahan Perdana (inaugral address). I delivered my Syarahan Perdana in March 2005, even before my retirement date. For those professors who have not delivered their Syarahan Perdana, UKM provides them with one-year extension to complete this requirement. However, despite this stated policy directive, the University has never been consistent in the practice of provision of contracts for senior professors. There have been a number of cases where lecturers without Ph.D. and good academic track record have been given two-year contract upon retirement.

When I received my month-to-month contract in late May, I was given the impression that once the approval comes from the above stated bodies, I would be given a two-year contract. However, all this has been turned out to be false and untrue. The letter of termination based on the decision by the University does not mention whether my application obtained the approval of the above-stated relevant bodies. Since no reasons are given for the termination of my contract, I am not sure why UKM made this decision.

Given my academic experience in UKM for the past 25 years, I strongly suspect criteria other than academic/intellectual were chosen to terminate my services. In a more precise sense, I speculate that my public role in writing and speaking on political and social issues such as the lack of democratic space, the plight of the Indian community, the exploitation of labour and more recently my statements on the controversial role of the Malaysian Medical Council on the Crime Medical State University could have provided the overall context in which the decision was taken against me.

In the past, I have received warnings from UKM for writing and publishing critical pieces on Malaysian politics and the nature of authoritarian leadership. Beyond this, I further suspect that my role in the peace process in Sri Lanka and Acheh in recent years has not been really welcomed by some bureaucratic academicians in the decision-making circles. Thus, for the last two decades or so, I cannot claim that I have received the sympathetic consideration of authorities both in UKM and outside.

However, to date, there have been no complaints by UKM on my academic/research and intellectual activities. I was hired as lecturer in the Department of Political Science in 1981, promoted to associate professor in 1993/4 and full professor in 1998. I have published four books and numerous articles in both local and international journals. I have participated in hundreds of conferences both overseas and in the country.

I have acted as consultant to the International Labour Organization (ILO), Shell Malaysia, Malaysian Trade Union Council (MTUC) and some trade unions in the country. My works on Malaysian labour in general and plantation labour in particular have been cited by numerous academics both inside and outside Malaysia. I have the most number of Ph.D. students under my supervision; many of my doctoral students have registered with UKM to complete their dissertations under my guidance.

About two years ago, I was appointed by UKM as the coordinator for the Global Labour University masters programme sponsored by the ILO. Due to my consultancy with ILO and my liaison with the MTUC, I was able to convince them to locate the masters’ programme in UKM. UKM is the only university in Asia that was given the privilege and prestige to host the programme. I have submitted the necessary documents for the implementation of the programme in the year 2007. However, in my absence, it would be difficult for UKM to launch the programme or convince the ILO about the future of this global masters programme.

In the last five years or so, I have taken a keen interest in internal/nationalistic conflicts in places like Sri Lanka and Acheh, to name a few.

Given my extensive writings on the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, I was appointed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to its Constitutional Affairs Committee in 2003. We were entrusted with the task of formulating an Interim Administration Proposal for the North-East of Sri Lanka so that that the peace process could re-commence.

Similarly, I have also taken a keen interest in the peace process in Acheh. As an observer/advisor in the recent Helsinki Talks I was able to provide valuable input for Gerakan Acheh Merdeka (GAM) to move in the direction of a lasting settlement. According to the latest information, GAM and the government of Indonesia would be signing the peace agreement on 15th August 2005 in Helsinki.

To date, I have completed a number of research projects on labour and ethnicity funded by the Selangor State government (estate workers’ housing), Education Welfare and Research Foundation (political and social aspects of the Malaysian Indian community), Tokyo University-Nissan Foundation (plantation workers Riau, Sumatra), ILO (impact of AFTA on trade unions), Ministry of Rural Development (poverty among former estate workers) and ILO (impact of globalization on trade unions). Apart from research, I was awarded fellowships at Centre for Developing Area Studies, McGill University, Canada, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Copenhagen, Denmark and guest professorship at University of Kassel, Germany.

My abrupt and unjust termination goes to show that there is big gap between what is preached and practiced in UKM. The University’s constant emphasis on academic/research/intellectual excellence has not been borne by deeds. Given the attrition suffered by the University in terms of losing good and quality staff over the years, no corrective measures have been adopted to retain people, especially at the senior level.

Strong governmental control of universities, lack of autonomy, the bureaucratic and mechanical nature of administration, intolerance of dissent and climate of fear have contributed in stifling the intellectual and academic environment. Alternatively, the prevailing environment in universities seems to sustain fear, favouritism and cronyism. Academic excellence is judged not by sound teaching and academic/intellectual output, but how well lecturers and administrators cultivate personal friendships and ties to seek promotion and extension of contracts.

Promotions and extensions of employment contracts in UKM as in other public universities have been mainly determined by the development of personal relationship, favouritism and active involvement in the politics of UMNO. There have been cases of professors and lecturers retained for a lengthy period after their retirement because of the operation of these factors. While official directives spell out the conditions for the retention of senior professors after their retirement, the practice has been rather contradictory and arbitrary. There have been professors who have continued in the service of UKM based on short-term contracts for a few years even without completing their Syarahan Perdana. Of course, if one is not in the good books of the administration as a result of being outspoken and critical, then it would be impossible to continue in the University for long.

It is without doubt that I have been victimized and discriminated by UKM for being outspoken and critical on many issues of the larger Malaysian society. Since they could not get rid of me earlier, they had to wait for my official retirement. The University’s often-repeated policy of retaining senior staff in their post-retirement period is a mere rhetoric without any substance. I have contributed much to the academic and intellectual development of the University for the past 25 years; however, the abrogation of the contract has repudiated this contribution. I hereby demand that UKM re-institute my contract on the basis of normal/accepted two-year contract, consistent with the directives on re-employment of retired staff.

Prof. P. Ramasamy
Centre for History, Political Science and Strategic Studies
Faculty of Social Science and Humanities
University Kebangsaan Malaysia
43600 Bangi, Selangor.
Tel: 8921-5821
HP: 019-3804022
Hse: 82101400
Email: [email protected]



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