(8-9 May 2010)
The Centre for Graduate Studies of Wawasan Open University organised the 2nd Residential School and Project Workshop (RSPW) at the Kuala Lumpur Regional Office, after the inaugural session was held in Penang last October.
The residential school is open to all CeMBA and CeMPA students while the Project Workshop component is for Master students who are eligible to undertake their final year project in the July 2010 semester.
The RSPW aims to provide an opportunity for students to enhance their learning through face-to-face interactions with industry experts in selected fields or professions, and offer academic and practical advice to prepare their project proposals through the face-to-face small group discussions with senior academic staff.
WOU Deputy Vice Chancellor (Strategy, Planning and Continuing Education) U K Menon started off the Residential School with his opening remarks. This was followed by a talk on 'The New Economic Model of Malaysia: A Critical Assessment' by Dato’ Dr R Thillainathan, a well-known economist who has served on the National Economic Panel, the Anti-Recession Task Force, the Task Force on Capital Market Development, the Investment Panel of the Employees Provident Fund, and the National Economic Consultative Council.
Dr Thillainathan was also an Associate Professor of Universiti Malaya and President of the Malaysian Economic Association. His many corporate roles include the COO and Executive Director from November 2002 to July 2007, remaining still as a non-executive Director of Genting Berhad and Director of Petronas Dagangan Berhad. He is currently a member of the Tax Review Panel of the Ministry of Finance and member of the government-appointed Economic Council and its Working Group. His controversial yet astute analysis of the NEM and the issues surrounding it from the corporate perspective and concerns led to a probing discussion with students.
The second invited speaker was Tan Sri G Gnanalingam, the current executive chairman of Westport, one of Malaysia's leading port operators. He founded Kelang Multi Terminal Sdn Bhd (Westport) in 1994 and became its Executive Chairman in 1996 when Malaysia’s first green-field port was privatised.
He spoke on 'Management and Leadership Challenges in Port Management: A Case Study of Westport' with Prof Chee Kim Loy, Dean of the School of Business and Administration, moderating. His presentation gave a bird’s eye view of how through sheer hard work and dedication, he turned Westport to become Malaysia's largest privately-owned port. He adopted “flexi-port and fast-port” approaches in advocating changes and defying conventional practices to cargo and ship handling, including implementing integrated port charges.
The Project Workshop started in the afternoon of the first day. It took on a more serious yet informal approach as SBA Course Coordinators Dr. Ang Kee Seng, Chong Fook Suan, Deehbanjli Laksmayya, Fakir Mohd, Dr.Jenny Neu, Prakash Arumugam and Yap Li Lian joined SBA deputy dean Dr Teoh Ai Ping and Prof Chee in the break-up sessions that followed each workshop to offer practical hands-on methodology.
Prof Chee later headed Workshop 1 on 'An Overview of Research Project and Structuring of Research Problems' to provide students a general benchmark of what they should be focusing on and how to come up with the research questions and problems. The day ended with Dr Teoh rounding up the two break-up sessions to offer students a better understanding of their topics and research objectives.
On Sunday, Dr.Teoh conducted Workshop 2 on 'Issues and Guidelines in Developing a Project Proposal' followed by a break-up session to give students some structure to what they had identified and discussed the day before. Workshop 3 on 'Library Research Process' and Workshop 4 titled 'Project Report Writing Skills' were conducted by Kamsiah Mohd Ali, Director of Learning and Library Services and Prof Dr Malachi Edwin Vethamani, Dean of the School of Education, Languages and Communications respectively.
The last two workshops were not directly related to producing the Project Proposal but more as support for the research and writing process that are very much part of a successful Project and Report.