Friday, September 5, 2008

UMS: Anything but University Malaysia Sabah



UMS is anything but Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

UMS is Universiti Myanmar Sabah, University of Murdering Surgeons, University Mati di Sabah.

Here's why.

UMS: Anything but University Malaysia Sabah

University Sains Malaysia (USM) was recently accorded ‘apex university’ status, whatever that means. Only time will tell whether the boisterous claims by the Ministry of Higher Education and USM itself will ever materialize.

While all eyes are focused upon the newly crowed premier institution of higher learning in Tanah Melayu, one local university seems to consistently escape the limelight of Malaysians and the media.

University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) was established in 1994 as the ninth public university of Malaysia. It currently has 13 faculties and 9 research institutes. The School of Medicine, established in 2003 is the latest faculty in UMS. Wikipedia describes University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) as the ‘most beautiful university in South East Asia.

Few would dispute that last statement.

Sabahans are generally proud and grateful for the establishment of UMS. Prior to its existence, any Sabahans poised for tertiary education in a local public university has to travel across the South China Sea to Peninsular Malaysia where one will be separated from one’s family for the duration of study. The establishment of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) in 1992 provided an alternative albeit limited avenue. UMS was born out of an election promise made by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. It is therefore not difficult to understand why most citizens of Sabah are optimistic and defensive of UMS.

Personally, I do not share the feel-good sentiment over UMS. Just as Sabah for half a century has been treated like a stepson in the Federation of Malaysia, it is my humble opinion that UMS has for 14 years been the step-university of the nation.

UMS: University Myanmar Sabah

It is an open secret that local universities rely heavily on Burmese lecturers especially in their medical faculties. This is especially true for UMS. The UMS website lists 45 academic staff in the School of Medicine. Of the 45 names, at least 18 names are conspicuously Burmese while another six are obviously non-local. In other words, at least 53% of UMS’s academic staff in the medical faculty are expatriates. I have nothing against foreign talent educating our youngsters. If these expatriates are knowledgeable and gifted in teaching, there is little reason to complain and no case for any dissatisfaction.

However, this is rarely the case, and I am stating so only from my personal experience with these medical lecturers. Now first and foremost, a nagging question begs an imminent answer: since when was Burma renowned as a center for medical excellence? Yet, Burmese lecturers account for 40% of UMS’s medical academicians. I do not deny that there are effective teachers among this pool but honestly and with a very clear conscience, they are the exception rather than the norm.

In my daily run-ins with the Burmese lecturers, I struggle to understand their heavily accented English. It remains a wonder how UMS medical students can comprehend lectures and tutorials teeming with medical jargon and technical terms.

As far as I am concerned, the Burmese lecturers are not trained or recognized by any international institution. To my knowledge, the majority of these teachers hold a Masters’ degree from University of Rangoon (currently known as University of Yangon). The University of Rangoon has its glorious days in the 1940s-1950s but has since 1962 faded into mediocrity after the ascent of socialism in the then Burma. The current crops of Burmese medical lecturers therefore are products of a second-rate institution in junta-controlled Myanmar. It is thus not preposterous to assume that students in UMS are receiving second-rate education.

There is no dearth of local teaching talent is the Ministry of Higher Education makes a more concerted and unbiased effort to scout around. The Ministry spends generously to pay the salaries of foreign academicians when it can employ local Malaysians for half the amount and presumably with greater efficacy of teaching.

UMS: University of Murdering Surgeons

In my previous article Murderers In Our Midst, I wrote about how innocent Sabahans were massacred for a period of time by the so-called surgeons from the UMS School of Medicine. It is something I feel very strongly about as these deaths took place before my eyes and in a very tormenting manner.

The origins of the massacre are unclear but it is believed that the UMS School of Medicine applied for regular operating opportunities for their surgical academicians whom needless to say are all Burmese but for one Middle Eastern national. For a duration of five months, patients in both elective and emergency cases went under the knife and total care of these UMS surgeons.

The outcome was horrendous.

It became clear soon enough that a local medical officer can cut much better than some of these surgeons and in a much shorter time. There was a high incidence of dubious operative decisions and techniques.

The post-operative care under the UMS team was pitiable, if at all in fact. Patients in sepsis, acute kidney failure, respiratory failure and electrolyte abnormalities were left under the care of junior house officers while the UMS surgeons treated the morning rounds like a walk in the Kundasang National Park. Granted, some of these patients were in irreversible and critical conditions but there were a number of others that could still be working their farms today had there been proper care and management.

The sudden and acute increase in peri-operative mortality prompted the Surgical Department Head to withdraw operating rights to the UMS surgeons.

One is greatly mistaken is if one thinks that errors are only made in surgeries. A Burmese radiologist performed a scan in a 42-year-old diabetic lady and diagnosed gallstones, a reasonably common condition. The only problem is, the patient had already undergone surgery to remove her gallbladder and is thus impossible to have any more gallbladder stones!

Do such tragedies occur in Peninsular Malaysia? I don’t know. What I do believe is that the lives of Sabahans are worth little to the Barisan Nasional government.

After all, no one has hitherto been held accountable for the peri-operative deaths that occurred so far.

UMS: Universiti Mati di Sabah

UMS is undoubtedly beautiful and wide and well-equipped. It is also located in the very crime-prone area of Karambunai in Sabah.

Around UMS are areas of rapid construction and dizzying development, with pockets of Filipino and Indonesian colonies surrounding UMS. It’s a perfect recipe for falling victim to violent crime.

Reading news of yet another tragedy befalling UMS students is no longer surprising. In Sept 2007, a UMS student became the victim of a snatch thief right in front of his house in Kingfisher, Likas. In April 2008, a 21-year-old UMS student was abducted in broad daylight and sexually assaulted. Today, the Daily Express reports that the decomposed body of a lady has been identified to be that of a missing UMS student. The young lady was believed to have been raped before being murdered and dumped.

A significant number of road accidents also involve UMS students. The traffic around UMS is increasing by the day, thanks to the great idea of erecting One Borneo Megamall so close to the university premises. Mix crazy traffic and university students on motorcycles and the sum is one lethal cocktail.

Yes, we are all individually responsible for our personal safety but there is only so much we, as unarmed civilians can do. Apart from being more vigilant and paranoid, it is the responsibility of the ruling government to deploy more patrolling cops, weed out brazen Project IC citizens and enforce the currently inadequate criminal laws.

Has anyone enlightened the BN government that parents send their children to universities to pursue learning and not to die?

Or is the BN government so obsessed with arresting political dissidents that the safety of youngsters at dangerous universities like UMS becomes secondary?

UMS: University Mediocre SLAB/SLAI

The quality of a university is almost always reflected by the quality of its academicians.

How far will UMS go when it is employing mediocre teaching staff? I am by no means generalizing to include all of UMS academicians. At the same time, it is no secret that UMS has been employing lecturers without a thorough screening. A medical officer who failed to pass her external examinations multiple times was co-opted into the UMS School of Medicine as a ‘trainee lecturer’ i.e, a Skim Latihan Bumiputera (SLAB) academic. In fact, any medical officers with only a year or two of working experience can apply to join UMS’s teaching programs as trainee lecturers. To many doctors including myself, UMS is regarded as a gateway to medical specialty, never mind the fact that UMS does not have its own established school for postgraduate medical training.

As UMS produced the first batch of medical graduates only this year, I do not have sufficient experience with them in order to state my personal impression. I have no doubt that at least some of UMS’s medical graduates will at least be as competent as their counterparts from other local universities. Diligent students will excel no matter where they are placed. Still, in general my interaction with the UMS students in the wards has been less than assuring, and it is in no way the fault of the medical students. They are simply left to themselves to roam about the wards aimlessly with occasional clinical teaching sessions.

If the UMS medical students do excel in their work later on, I would personally give more credit to their teachers from the government hospitals rather than their varsity lecturers.

Regardless, UMS seems to be heading the same mediocre direction as its Peninsular counterparts, deriving its future teaching manpower from the SLAB/SLAI programs.


I hope I am dead wrong in all this.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

May the souls of those poor guineapigs of incompetent surgeons rest in peace. Anyway UMS is not the only local univ with questionable expats on their staff. I totally agree with you this sad and deplorable state of affairs ailing our universities, not forgetting the many untold horrible stories that never made it to print.Nowadays the so-called SLAB/SLAI is nothing but an escape route for those not wanting to be posted out of the big cities. Many of these trainee lecturers taken in are of questionable academic quality with hardly any potential to be excellent medical lecturers. Even the country's oldest medical schoolis suffering the same fate. I personally know of a number of SLAB who flunked even their part 1 MMed program many times.At least one of them (I shall not divulge from which specialty)had to leave after 4 attempts when officially the max is 2 attempts.Gone are the glorious days! As your blog's name suggest, they are a "product of the system"; a screwed up (educational)system for more than 22 years where the current crops of young lecturers are of questionable qualities themselves. The lecturers themselves are HPsix materials.Lecturers who cannot speak a single sentence in English without grammatical errors. How on earth are they going to teach and groom the new generation of professionals?

Seiken said...

I do hope that your blog will be noticed by the public and may it serve as an eye-opener to the people. Obviously more of these "good deeds" from BN need to be exposed.

As for UMS, after reading your post I do feel glad for not being selected into this uni. Things are still much better over here in UM. However like you said, things are really becoming worse. The quality of the students accepted into the medical school, the lecturers, are all in the appalling state. One of the doctors in Klang GH once said to us, "UM is catching DOWN with other institutes like UMS ad so on." Even graduates from some private unis can do better.

POTS, do you think it is too late to undo all these damages? Even if the PR managed to take over the administration of our country? I do worry sometimes. What is becoming of Malaysia?

Anonymous said...

about road accidents, I feel that a lot of people driving pajero's and hiluxes are driving their vehicle too fast in sabah! the braking system of a 4wd drive may be the same as a car but its mass is not thus more momentum. this leads to more reaction time required, and also distance between vehicles for emergency situations... but these uneducated drivers dunt know that do they? put up more speed traps at that road leading to kingfisher

Anonymous said...

"Things are still much better over here in UM ..." I do not wish to be labelled a pessimist but thats a reality. "UM is a gonner" as far as the old generation of lecturers are concerned.Sad to say this but then again it is a reality and is rotting fast before our very eyes.Day in and day out "new visions" are being propounded in the name of "in pursuit of excellence" but in reality this is nothing more than a desperate chase after the THS ranking. The number of students in Phases 3 (A&B)who fail the major exam is increasing by the year. Once a student in the final year was asked "What are the presenting signs/symptoms" of SIADH. This smart alec burted out confidently and without hesitation "polyuria and polydipsa". Such is the type of medical graduate UM is producing albeight this may be one of the oddities; but then again can this also not be the tip of the iceberg?

Anonymous said...

22nd Sept 2008. Next Tuesday. An important date for those doing their Peperiksan Akhir MBBS Ulangan (read:not Tambahan). The number of candidates who have to resit the whole exam (theory+clinical)= 35 and that's a staggering figure! UM's Ripley's version of "Believe it or Not".

Anonymous said...

GOING BANANAS WITH STAFF FROM THE BANANA REPUBLIC OF MYANMAR

Quote
“UMS was born out of an election promise made by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

It is an open secret that local universities rely heavily on Burmese lecturers especially in their medical faculties. This is especially true for UMS. The UMS website lists 45 academic staff in the School of Medicine. Of the 45 names, at least 18 names are conspicuously Burmese while another six are obviously non-local. In other words, at least 53% of UMS’s academic staff in the medical faculty are expatriates.

However, this is rarely the case, and I am stating so only from my personal experience with these medical lecturers. Now first and foremost, a nagging question begs an imminent answer: since when was Burma renowned as a center for medical excellence? Yet, Burmese lecturers account for 40% of UMS’s medical academicians. I do not deny that there are effective teachers among this pool but honestly and with a very clear conscience, they are the exception rather than the norm”.
Unquote

Yeah right. He promised them a university. He said nothing about it being a world class university. Too clever by half!

Quote
“In my previous article Murderers In Our Midst, I wrote about how innocent Sabahans were massacred for a period of time by the so-called surgeons from the UMS School of Medicine. It is something I feel very strongly about as these deaths took place before my eyes and in a very tormenting manner.

The origins of the massacre are unclear but it is believed that the UMS School of Medicine applied for regular operating opportunities for their surgical academicians whom needless to say are all Burmese but for one Middle Eastern national. For a duration of five months, patients in both elective and emergency cases went under the knife and total care of these UMS surgeons. The outcome was horrendous.

There was a high incidence of dubious operative decisions and techniques.

One is greatly mistaken is if one thinks that errors are only made in surgeries. A Burmese radiologist performed a scan in a 42-year-old diabetic lady and diagnosed gallstones, a reasonably common condition. The only problem is, the patient had already undergone surgery to remove her gallbladder and is thus impossible to have any more gallbladder stones!”
Unquote

Good heavens! What happened to the principal precept of Primum non nocere (First, Do No Harm) and this part of the Hippocratic oath….

“I will follow that method of treatment which according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patient and Abstain From Whatever Is Deleterious and Mischievous”.

Has it escaped their attention perchance? Perhaps someone ought to help jolt their fading memory and while they are at it they might like to pay particular attention to these key operative words “ABSTAIN FROM WHATEVER IS DELETERIOUS OR MISCHIEVOUS”.

Daniel 5:5/6 (King James Version)
“In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another”.

It’s not rocket science, the writing is on the wall. The healthcare system has gone to pots and they’re going to rue the day they decided to staff the university with people with skills that are suspect. It’s an egregious mistake with serious consequences.

Quote
“How far will UMS go when it is employing mediocre teaching staff? I am by no means generalizing to include all of UMS academicians. At the same time, it is no secret that UMS has been employing lecturers without a thorough screening”.
Unquote

Yikes! I’m astounded and aghast in equal measure. This intellectual paucity is incredulous.

Q8-)

expressive said...

Well...
It looks to me as if u are one of the unlucky Medic student in UMS huh?

You see... about the raping incident. It can happen anywhere and in any place. Surely it can be behind your house somewhere in SEMENANJING I PERSUME?

oh... yeah. i bet.

Well let me tell u this.
GET UR ASS OUT OF SABAH.
I dont care what burmese bullshit whatever in SPU but for all i care...
you should have ur eyes open WIDER.
and in this case.
if u dont like Anything but UMS, just get out.
thank u.

Product of the System said...

Dear expressive,

It's not often that i employ sarcasm.

Either your are illiterate, dyslexic or downright retarded.

You might not have read my previous posts about my alma mater.

You might not have read the UMS article fully.

But my profile states that i am already working as a clinician and not a medical student.

Apart from that, yes, thank you, your constructive views are very much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

it was an interesting article but you cant expect everyone to take it as the gospel truth. since there are a few serious allegations here,do you have any evidence to back this up? just wondering..

Anonymous said...

You are the extreme end by-product of this system....look at yourself, what I mean here is the very-very bad by product.....99% so far I think are good, you are the bottom 1% ;)

You are partly trained oversea I think.....

joanne said...

Oh my god! I have just made my application to UMS! Can i know how long is the study duration fot medicine? How many years do i need to endure? XD

Anonymous said...

In your article "anything but UMS" , you quoted that the Ministry spends generously to pay the salaries of foreign academicians when it can employ local Malaysians for half the amount and presumably with greater efficacy of teaching. First of all, the pay is not as generous as you think .Secondly,it is easy for people to say why not employ a malaysian to teach, but how many local malaysians are REALLY coming forward to lecture the students in UMS? instead of sharing and passing down the knowledge to the new generation, which is the first thing in the Hippocratic oath, i dont understand why do people choose to write in blogs anonymously. If you wish to change anything, then teach the medical students without discriminating or looking down on them just because they are from UMS. Teach them properly so that you wont have a tough time training them later when they work under you during housemanship. This will make a difference, not just writing in blogs.

Anonymous said...

you just cut the sabahan deep..

Anonymous said...

Dear 'product of the system', the first batch from UMS has graduated and started working. Almost half of the 1st batch is attached to HQE. In your humble opinion, are they as competent as any other local graduate?

Anonymous said...

Dear 'product of the system', the first batch from UMS has graduated and started working. Almost half of the 1st batch is attached to HQE. In your humble opinion, are they as competent as any other local graduate?

aralaiqualasse said...

To this blog owner and those anonymous who think negatively on UMS:

Yo, who are you man? How dare u comment on our school...You as a professional doctor should know which words can be said,and which can't. I really pity your patients man. Maybe we the medical students of UMS may not become a 'Super Doctor' that I think you claim you are, but we will definitely become a more considerate and well-mannered doctor than you are.

As for your information, all our lecturers are competent enough to teach us and we do learn a lot from them. They, also kindly have accepted offers to become a lecturer here when selfish-hypocrite-money-minded-local-doctors like you yourself are not willing. if you think you are very good, do come and teach us then rather than complaining like you own the UMS system.

By the way, UMS is a safe school. There might be some accident occur in the past years, but it's not the school fault. Other universities may also face the same thing, it just they either never been reported or they didn't found the criminals. And it;s not UMS fault for having those PTI around.

Oh, 1 last thing One Borneo is a great place for us, medical students, to hang out whenever we are stressed-out. Why, you jealous?

PS: We are proud to become the medical students of UMS.

From: First-year medical students (08/09) -S.A.M. & K.M.-

Adrian said...

some of your comments about UMS serves as an eye opener but unfortunately some of it are just a biased attitude to pin-point (indirectly) the negative part of UMS.

the accidents and other incidents (such as rape and thief) involving UMS students for instants mostly happen outside of the campus itself.UMS students are not kids that needed to be pampered with 24 hour protection and loving care.they should have been an independent and taking care of themselves.

the statistic of these incidents that you've mention as well are lower compare to other local universities.have u heard of the incidents that befall on the daughter of our former VC in USM?so pls get your statistics right bro.what i'm trying to say here is that all our local universities are facing this problems as well.

i've been in UMS for 4 years and i do agree that theres ups and downs during my studies in this U, but it is not as bad as the picture that you've painted in your blog.other than that, i do respect your point of view and i do believe that UMS need to improve more,but give it a chance. thank you.

Belinda said...

There are 13 schools in UMS, we cannot simply judge UMS just because the majority of the lecturers in SPU are Burmeses. UMS is still a new university, there are a lot of problems that UMS is trying to overcome. I believe that the older and more established UMS like UM, USM and UKM had also face the same problems.

UMS_student said...

I agree with Belinda and I’m pround to be UMS student, I really enjoy my university ljfe here and please stop criticizing our and university. It’s actually not that bad, UMS is still young, give UMS a chance to learn. No one can be good without learning from the mistakes. As a conclusion, I love UMS….

Anonymous said...

About UMS being not safe enough for students post, my opinion is that doesn’t matter where you go to, the unknown danger is there. All we can do is to be careful and stay alert.

2nd year sheng said...

The number of freshies this year in SKTM was decreased…”PPL” said that they concern about the quality, not quantity…Is itz?? Then before this year all don’t have quality lahh…

5th year student said...

2 batch of UMS doctors were given good credit by the hospital especially Hospital in Sabah. I guess that assuming is not what we do in the evidence based world we are living.

Anonymous said...

I am a medical student considering to do my elective posting at Likas Hospital. I am not studying in UMS.
May I ask you a question? How far is the distance from UMS to Likas Hospital?

honey said...

being a student here in SPU, we are taught to be a community's doctor, not a doctor's doctor. with all that you have said, i think u are not one of them.
your selfishness and and ego, shall be an obstacle. rule no 1, treat everybody equally. ur bias towards UMS is preposterous. everywhere has it's own dangers. with only one case, how can you labelled UMS like that?
show some respect to your fellow colleagues. in deep, I sincerely hope you will find the light some day.
10th batch of SPU

truthisout said...

Myanmar lecturer Tracy Sein was well known in Myanmar for her corruption.She was said to take expensive presents from students.She intentionally asks hard questions so that only 100 out of 500 students passed community medicine in Myanmar UM1.Then if the students want to pass the supplementary exam they had to buy her those expensive things such as gold rings..

Ben Ng said...

I was from the third batch of UMS school of medicine. I am the proof that UMS graduate stand on par with other university in Malaysia. Not only I graduated with first class honours and obtained Gold Medal, recently I had been awarded MRCP(UK). Being the second physician from UMS and the youngest to pass this exam I think that's enough to shut your mouth.