Tribute to Tan Sri Raj: A passionate educationist

Wawasan Open University paid tribute to the immeasurable service of Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Dr Gajaraj Dhanarajan – who retired as Chairman of the Board of Governors – with an appreciation dinner held at the E&O Hotel in Penang today.

WOU Registrar Dr Andy Liew, up front as emcee, welcomes everyone to the appreciation dinner.

WOU Registrar Dr Andy Liew, up front as emcee, welcomes everyone to the appreciation dinner.

Vice Chancellor Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye in his opening remarks highlighted the extraordinary qualities and accomplishments of Tan Sri Raj, his mentor. “He often reminds us of the need to uphold and put into practice the core values of the University at all times,” Prof Ho stressed. WOU Sdn Bhd Chairman Dato’ Seri Stephen Yeap shared on Tan Sri Raj’s involvement in the development and growth of WOU.

Dato' Seri Stephen hugs Tan Sri Raj after delivering his speech.

Dato' Seri Stephen hugs Tan Sri Raj after delivering his speech.

WOU Pro-Chancellor Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon echoed the sentiments of Prof Ho and Dato’ Seri Stephen, and lauded Tan Sri Raj as “one of the greatest educators of the world”. He said after heading the Commonwealth of Learning in Vancouver, Tan Sri Raj could have gone on to bigger things, like UNESCO or the World Bank, and yet chose little Penang to realise his vision and passion in ‘education for all’ in Malaysia through WOU’s open distance learning (ODL) mode.

Dr Koh looks to the past and to the future of the University.

Dr Koh looks to the past and to the future of the University.

Dr Koh also recounted the origin of WOU when Gerakan’s third president, the late Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik, committed himself and the party in 1999 to the establishment of an open virtual university for the working adults of Malaysia. He said, the appointment of Raj as the founding Vice Chancellor was most appropriate as he was able to assemble a global team of “who’s who in ODL” as advisors to contribute to the formulation of WOU’s strategy and action plan. As the new chairman of the Board of Governors, Dr Koh appealed to all in WOU “to continue with the vision and values of our founding fathers”.

Tan Sri Raj took to the podium to express his passion for equitable access to “the denied and the deprived” through his involvement in WOU, and that by being affordable and equitable, WOU can keep faith with its mission and vision.

Tan Sri Raj shares that he likes to speak his mind on issues that he feels strongly about rather than compromise on his principles.

Tan Sri Raj shares that he likes to speak his mind on issues that he feels strongly about rather than compromise on his principles.

He said his passion for equity stemmed from growing up in a rubber plantation of the 40s and the 50s where “denial to learning kept an entire population in servitude and blindness”. “If you lived through that experience, then you will know where my passion is coming from.”

Explaining “The rest of this talk may turn out to be like the winner of an Oscar”, he thanked individuals in the Board and management, and also his wife Sue of 47 years. He singled out Tun Lim and Dato’ Seri Chia Kwang Chye, the then secretary general of Gerakan, who worked tirelessly to make WOU happen.

Tan Sri Raj earlier welcoming Dato' Seri Chia, whom he singled out for special recognition along with the late Tun LIm, for their role in establishing WOU.

Tan Sri Raj earlier welcoming Dato' Seri Chia, whom he singled out for special recognition along with the late Tun LIm, for their role in establishing WOU.

Acknowledging he could be blunt when driving a principle or value, he concluded, “My passion was the University and I would do everything I need to do to make sure that this University serves its purpose to the people of this country.”

A 24 carat gold-plated elephant gift imported from Kerala for Tan Sri Raj from WOU to add to his massive collection of elephants. At left is Prof Ho while looking on at right is Dato' Seri Stephen.

A 24 carat gold-plated elephant gift imported from Kerala for Tan Sri Raj from WOU to add to his massive collection of elephants. At left is Prof Ho while looking on at right is Dato' Seri Stephen.

Among those present were national Gerakan vice president Datuk Dr Asharuddin Ahmad, and the directors and/or members of Wawasan Education Foundation, WOU Board of Governors and WOUSB as well as senior academics and management staff of WOU.

Exemplifying knowledge and love in Rooster year

University staff were called to exemplify love and knowledge to derive the best out of life, during the lunar Year of the Fire Rooster celebration organised by WOU at the main campus today.

The lion dance performance and God of Prosperity inside the Homestead.

The lion dance performance and God of Prosperity inside the Homestead.

Vice Chancellor Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye, referring to the recently launched WOU News Ticker, spoke of that day’s quote by Bertrand Russell, a well-known thinker and philosopher in the 20th century, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950. The quote was, ‘The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.’

Prof Ho born in the Year of the Rooster.

Prof Ho born in the Year of the Rooster.

He added that what was not displayed on the running ticker was an equally inspiring line from the particular quote that reads, ‘Neither love without knowledge, nor knowledge without love can produce a good life.’ In the context of WOU, he stressed, “If we can harmoniously blend and balance love and knowledge well enough in work and outside of work, we can enjoy a good life. We can enjoy the camaraderie of the people we work and share experience with as colleagues in an institution that provides and consumes knowledge,

To the laughter of the crowd, Prof Ho showed that he can be hip and does keep up with the times when he named Rooster celebrities like tennis players Serena Williams and Roger Federer and music artistes Britney Spears and Rod Stewart. He further spiced up the event when, upon asking those born in the Year of the Rooster to raise their hands, he gamely chimed in, “I should also put up my hand because I am also one.”

Prof Ho exalts staff to work hard.

Prof Ho exalts staff to work hard.

He highlighted the birth characteristics, pointing out that “Roosters are supposed to be hard working, very committed, dedicated in the sense of being very serious in their job. So let us hope we will also share and display these kind of attributes, even more so this year.”

Yeong (left) lights the firecrackers.

Yeong (left) lights the firecrackers.

Next was the lighting of firecrackers at the Homestead porch by Prof Ho and Chief Operating Officer Yeong Sik Kheong. This was followed by the lion dance while the God of Prosperity also put in an appearance, handing out beverage packets. The lion dancers and the God of Prosperity visited a few offices in the Chancellery to bestow blessings and good luck.

Blessing the office of K H Chong, Director of Marcom and Regional Operations.

Blessing the office of K H Chong, Director of Marcom and Regional Operations.

Staff and guests were entertained by juggling acts by WOU’s full-time students, Robin Cheah Kai Yang, Chow Bai Quan and Ng Xin Pei, before the commencement of lunch.

Among the guests present were Members of WOU Board of Governors, Tan Sri Dr Chin Fook Weng, Loo Choo Teng, Ooi Teng Chew, Chia Loong Thye and Emeritus Prof Dato’ Dr Wong Tat Meng; Luxoft Managing Director Ewan Manomohan; and Tricor Corporate Services Director Chew Siew Cheng.

Ng Xin Pei shows her skills at juggling the Chinese yo-yo.

Ng Xin Pei shows her skills at juggling the Chinese yo-yo.

Staff and guests helped themselves to huat kuih and the dessert, tang yuan (glutinous rice balls), and tried their hand at Chinese calligraphy at the Homestead lobby.

Welcoming new students in OCL February intake

The new students of WOU were called to equip themselves with 21st century job skills through their full-time, on-campus learning (OCL) experience at the University.

Penang Regional Centre Director Teh Kim Kow welcomes the new students.

Penang Regional Centre Director Teh Kim Kow welcomes the new students.

Vice Chancellor Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye issued this challenge during the Orientation at the main campus today for about 25 full-time students from the February 2017 intake.  

In his address, Prof Ho shared that graduates of WOU must acquire valuable 21st century job skills that make them readily employable. “The future-proof skills that are very much sought after by employers in this modern age are problem-solving, creative thinking, analytical thinking, communicate effectively, collaborate with partners, and ethics, action and accountability.”

Prof Ho shares on the knowledge and skills taught to students of WOU..

Prof Ho shares on the knowledge and skills taught to students of WOU..

He also gave pointers on what the students must do to succeed at WOU. “You need to be highly committed and responsible in your studies, first know what you want to achieve, and be dedicated goal-oriented individuals. Also be savvy in multi-tasking so that you can manage your time for study and other commitments.”

He continued, “Be motivated self-starters who complete assignments and projects, be forward thinkers who can innovate and be creative, as well as be a team player in your scholarly pursuit.”

Academics and freshmen listening to Prof Ho.

Academics and freshmen listening to Prof Ho.

Earlier in her welcoming remarks, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) Prof Madhulika Kaushik advised the freshmen to take charge of their studies and mark out their career path. She highlighted the learning support at WOU, including lecturers, academic advisors, the learning management system Wawasan2u, and the library.

She informed that WOU organises annual Career Fairs to help with employment and also arranges industrial training for the full-time students, where they are placed as interns with reputable organisations and companies in Penang and the northern region. “If you conduct yourself well, there is a very good chance of you being selected as an employee by the organisation where you trained, as our experience in the past years has shown.”

Prof Madhulika highlights the student support available at WOU.

Prof Madhulika highlights the student support available at WOU.

She urged the new students to use their time in WOU to improve their language proficiency and boost their employability, adding that they should take full advantage of the arrangements the University has put in place for this.

Among those who attended the Orientation were Registrar Dr Andy Liew Teik Kooi, Deans of Schools, OCL coordinator Dr Chuah Poh Lean, Academic Advisors, and the staff of Penang Regional Centre (PGRC).

The new students were led in their oath-taking by Surendren Chandra Sagaran, 23, from Ayer Itam, Penang, who had enrolled in Bachelor of Business (Hons) in Management. He holds a Diploma in Hotel Management from a private college.

Freshmen taking the students' pledge as they embark on their studies.

Freshmen taking the students' pledge as they embark on their studies.

The Orientation also witnessed the recognition of six OCL students who had been named to the Dean’s List for their excellent academic results in the May 2016 semester. The recipients, all from the Management programme, were Melody Lim Chii Wen, Lau Sheue Wen, H’ng Ying Shan, Ivy Mak Choong Wei, Mitra Vani Sinnadurai and Danicia Hor Shuet Yi.

The day-long event also saw briefings given to the new students regarding MPU courses, WOU regulations and procedures, Wawasan2u, student portal, library services, social recreational activities and managing campus life.

Keeping pace with emerging new technologies in SCM

Industry players in Penang must keep pace with emerging new technologies that have impact on supply chain management (SCM) if they are to stay ahead in the highly competitive global market.

WOU Pro-Chancellor Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon made this point, when recounting, how during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Penang, logistics and supply chain were the most important elements in his administration’s promotion of industrial growth in the state.

Two-day roundtable on Supply Chain Management held at the WOU main campus.

Two-day roundtable on Supply Chain Management held at the WOU main campus.

He shared his experience of pushing the federal government for infrastructure facilities like the new container port and new air cargo and freight forwarders’ complex, to facilitate logistics and movement of goods.

He also recounted efforts in building a strong supplier base in Penang through the Global Supplier Programme of Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC) for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to upgrade their technologies and expand networking to support the expanding industrial sector.

As an example, he highlighted how his administration managed to get the US-based tech corporation Dell Inc to be based in Penang in the early 1990s in competition to Singapore, and on overcoming certain logistics and costs issues to maintain Dell in Penang, thus ensuring business for local SMEs.

Dr Koh with Prof Ho (centre) and WOU Sdn Bhd Chairman Dato' Seri Stephen Yeap.

Dr Koh with Prof Ho (centre) and WOU Sdn Bhd Chairman Dato' Seri Stephen Yeap.

He said the Dell experience showed that situations can change very fast, adding, “If we don’t keep running, we are going to be left behind.”  

He said a lot of work is needed to help SMEs stay competitive. “Everyone has got a barrier in terms of how to adopt the latest technology. However, though good for higher productivity and quality, emerging technologies are extremely disruptive to SMEs and to the whole economy in terms of labour supply, the skill sets needed, etc.”

“That is why it is very important to continuously have this dialogue to figure out what to do collectively,” he said when opening the Roundtable on ‘Emerging trends of technologies in SCM’ at the WOU main campus today.

Dr Koh highlights the importance of keeping pace with emerging technologies.

Dr Koh highlights the importance of keeping pace with emerging technologies.

He also emphasised that it is crucial for educational institutions to produce people that are knowledgeable and yet flexible enough and willing to continue to learn, “or else we risk losing jobs to Vietnam and even Myanmar”.  He called for strategising and close collaboration amongst our local captains of industry and those in logistics and higher education to better position Penang.

“We must collaborate to make effective use of emerging new technologies. We must be one step ahead of the changing market conditions and more importantly we must produce the right type of manpower that can handle the challenges and changes of the future,” stressed Dr Koh.

Prof Ho elaborates on the fourth industrial revolution.

Prof Ho elaborates on the fourth industrial revolution.

Earlier, Vice Chancellor Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye noted that things happen fast under the present fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0 environment. He said industry 4.0 has disruptive impacts, but also offers opportunities for industries to create jobs and for universities to produce graduates that are employable.

“Industry 4 is touted as job killers as well as job creators,” he stated, adding that some current jobs will disappear to be replaced with new ones. He said those in white collar and administration will feel the stress of this disruption, while computing, engineering, programming, and mathematics will gain more importance.

Educational institutions must produce the right kind of graduates, says Prof Ho.

Educational institutions must produce the right kind of graduates, says Prof Ho.

 “Between these two extremes, the educational institutions must transform themselves to become industrial age universities and try to produce the kind of graduates that will meet the demand of industry 4.0 companies.”  He declared that WOU will continue to play this crucial role.

The two-day roundtable organised by WOU in collaboration with the PSDC was attended by some 50 industry experts and SCM practitioners - including LF Logistics, Celestica, NSW Automation and Intel - to review emerging SCM trends and technologies.  

Welcoming new ODL students for January 2017 semester

A new chapter began for about 500 students who had registered for part-time, open distance learning (ODL) mode of study at Wawasan Open University in the January 2017 intake.

Welcoming the new students during the orientation at the main campus.

Welcoming the new students during the orientation at the main campus.

Many got their first taste of University life when they attended the Orientation organised simultaneously by the Regional Centres in Penang (PGRC), Ipoh (IPRC), Kuala Lumpur (KLRC), Johor Bahru (JBRC) and Kuching (KCRC), today.

Senior academics represented the University at the Orientation to brief the students on WOU’s ODL model and present the Dean’s List awards. Seventy-one students were named to the Dean’s List for academic excellence in the January 2016 semester. There were 25 recipients from PGRC, 23 from KLRC, 14 from JBRC, 6 from KCRC, and 3 from IPRC.

Prof Santhiram presents the Dean's List award to Lim Pui Shan. At right is Ipoh Regional Centre Director Ching Huey Ling.

Prof Santhiram presents the Dean's List award to Lim Pui Shan. At right is Ipoh Regional Centre Director Ching Huey Ling.

The Dean, Assoc Prof Dr Intan Osman, and Deputy Dean, Prakash Arumugam, of the School of Business & Administration joined the orientation at the Penang main campus. Prakash highlighted the important online links, namely the student portal, learning management system (LMS), online assignment submission system, MyEnrolment, Turnitin, and MyLibrary.

Prakash highlights the important online links to Remember.

Prakash highlights the important online links to Remember.

The orientation at the other locations were participated by School of Education, Languages & Communications Dean Prof Santhiram Raman (IPRC), School of Science & Technology Dean Associate Prof Dr Wendy Bong Chin Wei (KLRC), along with the School of Humanities & Social Sciences Dean Dr Nagarajan Subramaniam (KCRC) and Deputy Dean Jasmine Emmanuel (JBRC).

Dr Bong shares on the University's ODL model at Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre.

Dr Bong shares on the University's ODL model at Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre.

The orientation also served as the platform to recognise four Star Ambassadors - Phang Li Shing and Ho Zi Xuan from PGRC and Amirta Raj Manickam and Sivanesvaran Krishnaswami from KLRC – for referring three or more people to study at WOU during the July 2016 intake. They were each rewarded with a certificate and shopping vouchers worth RM200 under the WOU Friends & Family Programme.

Jennifer Alberto leads in the oath-taking at Ipoh Regional Centre.

Jennifer Alberto leads in the oath-taking at Ipoh Regional Centre.

Meanwhile at IPRC, pre-school teacher Jennifer Alberto, who enrolled for the newly-introduced Diploma in Early Childhood Education, led the freshmen in reciting the students’ pledge. This was followed by WOU’s Marketing & Admissions Executive Robert Ooi Teik Leng, who graduated at the recent Convocation ceremony, sharing his experiences on student life. He is presently continuing with his Master of Education at WOU.

Deva Guru offers pointers on managing student life to the freshmen at KLRC.

Deva Guru offers pointers on managing student life to the freshmen at KLRC.

At KLRC, close to 100 registered students turned up for orientation. Acting Head, Roshini Jesselyn Ramesh Chandru, welcomed the students, while Deva Guru Kurupatham, who is pursuing the Commonwealth Executive MBA programme, offered pointers on how to manage their study. Freshman Tengku Ahmad Faizul, who is embarking on his Bachelor of Management (Hons) with Psychology programme, led in the oath-taking.

Ahmad Faizul leads in taking the oath at KLRC.

Ahmad Faizul leads in taking the oath at KLRC.

The new students were excited and glad to receive a first-hand demonstration of the University’s LMS, WawasanLearn, and on accessing the student portal and other online support.

The half-day event ended on a fun note with a treasure hunt complete with prizes to acquaint the new students with the facilities and services available.

A freshman learning how to log onto the student portal at PGRC.

A freshman learning how to log onto the student portal at PGRC.

Staff Appreciation and Celebrating Together

Wawasan Open University ‘turned 10’ this year and recognised a total 44 employees with long service awards for their continuing loyalty, dedication and commitment to the future of the University.

Thirty-one received the 10-year service award and another thirteen the 5-year service award during a simple ceremony organised by the Human Resources Department at the lecture theatre of the main campus today.

On hand to present both the awards was WOU Sdn Bhd Chairman Dato’ Seri Stephen Yeap. Topping the list for the 10-year service award was Chief Operating Officer Yeong Sik Kheong.

"Thank You" to Yeong for his long years of service.

"Thank You" to Yeong for his long years of service.

Meanwhile, the Educational Technology & Publishing (ETP) Unit followed by the Registry had the highest number of recipients:

Ø  ETP (6) – Assistant Manager Khoo Chiew Keen, Senior Multimedia Technologist Marnisya Abdul Rahim, Senior Graphic Designer Chrisvie Ong Lin Lin, Senior Executive Jeanne Chow Min Hian, Graphic Designer Audrey Lisa Yeong Yoke Mei, Assistant Officer Sharon Alice Wiessy

Ø  Registry (5) - Advisor Sovindar Kaur, Senior Assistant Registrars Lim Swee Choo, June Cheah Ruenn Ling and Cheryl Ooi Hui Hui, Senior Executive Perkash Kaur

Marnisya Abdul Rahim (ETP) congratulated by Dato' Seri Stephen Yeap.

Marnisya Abdul Rahim (ETP) congratulated by Dato' Seri Stephen Yeap.

Perkash Kaur from Registry.

Perkash Kaur from Registry.

The other recipients of the 10-year service award are listed below:

Ø  General Services & Administration/GSA (2) - Director Andrew Joseph, Assistant Manager Sharifah Azura Syed Osman

Ø  ITS (1)- Manager (Application) Ch’ng Eng Hoo

Ø  Learning & Library Services (4) - Manager Chew Bee Leng, Assistant Manager Norhasni Abdul Aziz, Assistant Manager(Circulation Services) Ooi Siew Lee, Assistant Library Supervisor Zubaydah Zamri

Ø  Finance (4) – Assistant Manager Jadey Lee Cheng Gaik, Purchasing Executive Tan Mei Lin, Executive Janice Wong Siew Eng, Officer Hanishah Zainon

Ø  Centre for Professional Development & Continuing Education/PACE (2) – Senior Marketing Executive Lim Yeang See, Admin Assistant III Kang Shing Lee

Ø  Johor Bahru Regional Centre (2) - Director Dr Ng Peng Long, Senior Marketing & Admissions Executive Wong Chui Hong

Ø  Ipoh Regional Centre (2) – Senior Student Service & Admission Executive Syndy Ho Hsiao Yin, Senior Marketing & Admissions Executive Ngow Chee Wei

Ø  Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre/KLRC (2) – Senior Finance & Administration Executive Tan Chia Yun, Senior Marketing & Admissions Executive Raja Isaiah Rasiah

General Services & Administration Director Andrew Joseph.

General Services & Administration Director Andrew Joseph.

Norhasni Abdul Aziz from Learning & Library Services.

Norhasni Abdul Aziz from Learning & Library Services.

Among those presented with the 5-year award were ETP Director Grace Lau, School of Business & Administration Senior Lecturer Dr Chuah Poh Lean, School of Science & Technology Senior Lecturer Dr Teoh Ping Chow, Finance Executive Jennifer Ch’ng Chai Lin, and Regional Operations Senior Executive Clement Justus Gomez.

Clement JustusGomez from Regional Operations.

Clement JustusGomez from Regional Operations.

Everyone then proceeded to the Homestead Hall for the annual gathering arranged by the Staff Recreational Club. Guests included Members of WOU’s Board of Governors, Tan Sri Dr Chin Fook Weng and Dato’ Emeritus Prof Dr Wong Tat Meng. To the thunderous applause of all present, Vice Chancellor Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye announced a one-month bonus this year for management and staff.

The much anticipated lucky draw saw 23 prizes given away, such as shopping gift vouchers, iron, hair dryer, blender and rice cooker. The first prize, an oven was won by Fara Falida Ramely from KLRC, the second prize a vacuum cleaner by Saw Jong Khai from Quality Assurance & External Relations Directorate, and the third a juice extractor by Selva Raja from GSA.

Second prize winner Saw Jong Khai receiving his vacuum cleaner from Prof Ho.

Second prize winner Saw Jong Khai receiving his vacuum cleaner from Prof Ho.

The crowd had an entertaining luncheon as they mingled and feasted on the delicious food, while being serenaded by live guitar music and songs. They enjoyed the nasi briyani served with dalca, chicken, fish, prawn, egg kurma, taukua sambal and French beans, and nicely complemented with sliced papaya and water melon.

Staff mingling and enjoying their meal.

Staff mingling and enjoying their meal.

Penang: Changing mindset to create a better future

Individuals and communities must have the right mindset and work together in spite of the obstacles to change their sphere of influence if they are to create a better future in terms of physical and social wealth.

Prof Suresh Narayanan (right) introduces the speaker.

Prof Suresh Narayanan (right) introduces the speaker.

This was expressed by Tan Sri Andrew Sheng, Chief Advisor to the China Banking Regulatory Commission, at the public lecture on ‘Why East and West Will Meet in George Town’, organised by WOU’s Centre for Dialogue under the Chancellor’s Lecture Series at the main campus today.

He said Penang is geographically well located and that it is not real estate but people and talent that create wealth. He stressed that innovation can be the drivers of real growth in cities, and this requires human capital, R&D inputs, risk capital, workforce, and tech concentration.

He suggested Penang grab the best of the East and the West and organise the social technology and the business package into a workable model to take George Town to the next level.  “It’s not a matter of how you do it as the technology is available but whether we have the mindset to do it.”

Highlighting the success of Silicon Valley in the United States.

Highlighting the success of Silicon Valley in the United States.

He mentioned successful city-to-city alliances, like that of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland to form the Silicon Valley in US, which has some 40 universities and is now home to the top 39 high-tech companies, including Adobe, Apple, Facebook, eBay and Netflix. He said investments now are in start-ups, with ICT directly impacting future national wealth and income creation.

Sheng quoted research that by 2020, 940 million online shoppers are expected to spend $1 trillion on cross-border e-commerce transactions, with today’s money made with apps and services like Uber, Alibaba, Facebook, and Instagram.

He remarked that Penang faces long-term competitive challenges namely: it cannot rely solely on real estate; loss of talent to abroad and growing over-reliant on foreign labour for construction and service jobs;  intensifying competition from other cities; and lack of coordination between academic, business and civil service.

Sheng elaborates on how Penang can move forward to achieve growth.

Sheng elaborates on how Penang can move forward to achieve growth.

He shared that Penang must position itself in the networked economy, where the world is today our customer base, and there is easy access to information on content, branding, infrastructure and marketing.  He said Penang must improve productivity and increase labour utilisation to generate growth, stressing the key is continuous education, training and skills upgrading at state, corporate and individual levels.

He noted that universities are hub for knowledge and content generation, and that graduates are not only talent-pool for new ideas, but also cheap labour for entry into jobs. He said universities need to work together with the community - business, government, civil society - to be a platform for knowledge exchange and innovation, and that this cannot happen without input of Penang’s corporate captains, civic leaders and academic profession.

Responding to queries from the audience.

Responding to queries from the audience.

During Q&A, Sheng replied that we are now plugged into a global economy. “What’s stopping us to go to the next level? It’s the individual.” He advised for people not to blame anybody but rather to change their sphere of influence as individuals and by working as communities to create the future.

The lecture was attended by about 70 people including Pro-Chancellor Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, Board of Governors Chairman Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan and Vice Chancellor Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye.

Part of the crowd at the lecture.

Part of the crowd at the lecture.

Infusing values for upgrading democracy

Audiences got a different glimpse of democracy and were shown a few tools of upgrading democracy, at a public lecture on ‘Upgrading Democracy: Soft Laws, Good Laws and Human Rights’ at the WOU main campus today.

A section of the crowd at the lecture.

A section of the crowd at the lecture.

Veteran lawyer Roy Lee, who has practised public law, drafted legislation and consulted in numerous countries in Asia and Australasia, stated that soft laws, good laws and human rights are the three key features and upgrades in modern democracy, and that the best reference for countries is international standards.

Declaring that democratic governance is crucial to democracy, he defined it as a collection of robust mechanisms that keep the Executive honest, ensure the Executive does not abuse its powers, acts fairly, and works hard for the people. The four benchmarks of democratic governance are accountability, transparency, fairness and independence, he added.

He gave examples of democratic governance institutions like the written Constitution, judicial review, independent Courts, domestic human rights law, international human rights law, the Ombudsman, Freedom of Information legislation, public procurement laws and guidelines, a Human Rights Commission, free media and journalists, free social media, NGOs, interest groups, and Parliamentary oversight committees.

Roy Lee has a law degree from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Roy Lee has a law degree from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

He stressed that certain civil and political rights such as freedom of expression, assembly and association are indispensable in a democratic society. He also spoke of countries without written Constitution like New Zealand and UK, which have learnt to use the Parliament properly to protect the rights of the people.

Regarding soft laws, Lee said soft law institutions do not rely on litigation or criminal law, but infuse democratic values like “accountability, transparency, fairness, human rights and rationality, into decision-making and actions by public officials”. He noted that soft laws – e.g. regulatory impact assessments, consultation, human rights norms, codes, policies, principles, other guidance, ombudsman independent Police Complaints Commission - are needed in a democracy,

Elaborating on soft law institutions.

Elaborating on soft law institutions.

He said soft law institutions help design standards for good laws in a democracy. He listed eight features for good laws: clear objectives and guiding principles; clear and objective criteria for exercise of significant powers; appropriate placement of powers; appointment, removals, accountability and independence of decision-makers; graduated sanctions; sufficient safeguards; sufficient transparency; and international standards and best practice.

Lee mentioned sufficient safeguards like court appeals, independent panel, and judicial reviews, and sufficient transparency for amendment revocation and concessions or agreements with utilities or monopoly providers. He also said that there are enough international standards and best practice to follow, even on judiciary, parliament, campaign and political finance, discrimination and equality.

He concluded, “Lots of soft laws upholding democratic governance are critical upgrades to democracy. There is no quick fix for Malaysia’s deficit of democratic governance. A whole package of reforms is needed.”

Moderator Dr Wong Chin Huat (left) from Penang Institute poses a question.

Moderator Dr Wong Chin Huat (left) from Penang Institute poses a question.

He suggested a review of key institutions and laws, parliaments, courts, prosecutions, police, Prime Minister’s office, and legislation restricting fundamental freedoms against international standards or best practice; establishing soft law institutions/mechanisms; and creating awareness starting from school about democracy and human rights,

During Q&A, he replied that the Constitution can be amended with two-thirds majority, and so the safeguards for democracy are strong soft laws for every structure and strata of society, and infusing democratic values in these institutions and the people.

Prof Dhanarajan and Emeritus Prof Dato' Dr Wong Tat Meng of WOU.

Prof Dhanarajan and Emeritus Prof Dato' Dr Wong Tat Meng of WOU.

About 40 people attended the event organised by the Penang Institute and WOU, including WOU Board of Governors Chairman Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan and Vice Chancellor Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye.

Preparing for the future: ODL based on m-Learning

A good understanding of open distance learning (ODL) based on mobile learning (m-Learning) can be gleaned through the experiences of Korea National Open University (KNOU).

Prof Tae-Rim Lee, from KNOU’s Department of Information Statistics, presented a lecture on ‘Mobile e-book for Open & Distance Learning’ to WOU staff today, in which she shared the history, experiences and lessons from KNOU’s m-Learning project. 

Explaining the history of mobile learning in Korea National Open University.

Explaining the history of mobile learning in Korea National Open University.

She elaborated on the components of m-Learning namely the contents, technology, service and the learners.  Contents are raw data or original draft, technology is learning management system or multimedia, while service is training, delivery methods, operation, system, and reference.

She informed that the m-Learning or ‘campus in hand’ of KNOU has a main menu comprising Campus Information (MyPage, Academic Calendar, Phone Book),  Administrative Information (Enrolment, Courses, Grade, Register) and Learning Service (VOD Lecture, AOD Lecture). She demonstrated on how to access mobile e-book and run the application using her smartphone.

Prof Tae making a point.

Prof Tae making a point.

According to Prof Lee, KNOU built its e-Learning hub site, e-campus, in 2002, and kicked off its m-Learning hub site, U-campus, in December 2008 with 17 departments of online graduate school.  The university began employing OER for ODL in 2011 and commenced MOOCs in 2014. KNOU presently has 13 regional campuses nationwide and its own cable television network, which proves useful for web lectures.

She said the initial u-KNOU service or mobile campus in hand provided students with instant access to video lectures, multimedia lectures, and their academic information while they move with their 3G cellular phones. Following user feedback, the improved u-KNOU service was expanded to various mobile devices and a variety of service networks, with upgraded interface and display methods. Other service functions like ID and password, seamless display, variation of play speed, etc were added.

Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan and Grace Lau (2nd and 3rd from left) at the talk.

Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan and Grace Lau (2nd and 3rd from left) at the talk.

Among those who attended the talk at the main campus were Chairman of WOU’s Board of Governors, Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan, School of Science & Technology (SST) Dean Dr Wendy Bong Chin Wei, Educational Technology &   Publishing Director Grace Lau Pee Hoay, and Educational Technologist Assoc Prof Dr Ramesh Sharma.

Earlier, Prof Lee recounted the evolution of ICT in higher education, remarking that e-learning and m-Learning affords a good opportunity for busy people to study during their spare time.

Recognition for two global leaders and 622 graduates

(November 24-26, 2016)

Wawasan Open University recently awarded honorary degrees to two global women leaders at the helm of international organisations that work towards the betterment of people and society, during the seventh convocation ceremony.

Tun Chancellors declares commencement of ceremony.

Tun Chancellors declares commencement of ceremony.

The recipients of WOU’s Honorary Doctor of Letters degree were Professor Asha Kanwar, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), headquartered in Vancouver, Canada and Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood, Under Secretary General for Partnerships at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), based in Geneva, Switzerland.  Dr Jemilah is the founder of MERCY Malaysia, a medical charity which she led as President from 1999 to 2009.

In his convocation address, Chancellor Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah lauded the honorary graduates for their achievements “in their respective field of expertise and for raising the global profile of women in leadership”.

Prof Asha Kanwar receives her Honorary Degree from the Chancellor.

Prof Asha Kanwar receives her Honorary Degree from the Chancellor.

He highlighted the importance of unity in diversity and urged all to make Malaysia better for our future generations. “As citizens who love Malaysia, we want to see the nation develop further, for the ringgit to be strengthened, for the country to prosper socio-economically, and for the general standard of living of the rakyat to improve. For this to happen, we require those in administration and leaders representing the interests of the people to be of high calibre, capable, honest, trustworthy, accountable and transparent individuals.”

He continued, “A peaceful Malaysia, with united citizens, with minimal violence in its midst, with proper management of the nation’s wealth, with all the positive values of a healthy society, will make the country stronger and better. This is the kind of country we can be proud of and which we want our descendants to inherit.”

Chancellor Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah delivers his convocation address.

Chancellor Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah delivers his convocation address.

Vice Chancellor Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye, in congratulating Prof Kanwar and Dr Jemilah, said, “As individuals and leaders, they dare to step up and impact societies and nations with the strength of their vision, passion and determination.”

Pro-Chancellor Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon added, “These two global women leaders are excellent examples of strong commitment and absolute dedication to the ideals of service to the people in their own nations and to the world at large in the field of education and health care respectively.  They have brought positive changes and real meaning to the lives of many people, especially the disadvantaged.  They are indeed good role models for all of us to emulate.”

(From left) Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, Prof Kanwar, Prof Ho and Dato' Emeritus Prof Dr Wong Tat Meng.

(From left) Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, Prof Kanwar, Prof Ho and Dato' Emeritus Prof Dr Wong Tat Meng.

In her inspiring video acceptance message, Dr Jemilah mentioned the realities of living in an increasingly polarised world, and implored, “How do we make sure we do not allow this degree of polarisation to happen in our own backyards?”

She told the graduates to reflect on how they will “contribute to society, whether in Malaysia or outside, to think of yourself not just as Malaysian citizens but also global citizens” and “to make your mark in the world today”.

The convocation held at the main campus over three days produced a total of 622 fresh graduates at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Among them was the first batch of 45 graduates from the full-time, on-campus learning (OCL) programmes.

Graduates seated in the hall.

Graduates seated in the hall.

The remaining 577 formed the part-time, open distance learning (ODL) graduates from the undergraduate (423) and postgraduate (154) programmes. They included the first batch of graduates from the Bachelor’s degree programmes in English Studies (5), Multimedia Design (1), and Networks & Data Communication (1).

For their excellent academic performance, the most outstanding graduate from the ODL postgraduate programme, Irene Cheng Chiew Ping, won the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Memorial Prize, while the top graduate from the undergraduate programme, Kalaiyalagan Karuppiah, won the Chancellor’s Gold Medal. The inaugural Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik Memorial Gold Prize for top OCL graduate went to Shirley Leong Yan Yan.