| Dr Ranjit Singh Malhi | Opinion | 15 June 2016 | Asia Samachar |
The horrendous factual errors pertaining to Sikhism (i.e. Sikhism being founded by Kabir, Sikhism being a blend of Hinduism and Islam, and Guru Nanak’s date of death as 1533) by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) as reflected on a slide of the Asian and Islamic Civilization module is no surprise to me.
It is the recurring symptom of the root cause of declining academic standards in our public universities over the last few decades: We have sacrificed excellence for mediocrity and meritocracy for an overdose of social reengineering. Currently, more than 90% of the top management and deans in our public universities are all drawn from one ethnic group, no thanks to excessive affirmative action. What then can one expect of the quality of academic modules and teaching in our public universities?
Let me repeat what I have been saying consistently since 1990: Our political leaders should have the courage to promote greater meritocracy and excellence in all fields, including our higher education system, to ensure a bright future for the next generation of “anak bangsa Malaysia”.
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Unfortunately, no one is listening. It does appear then (many people indeed think so) that the mantra over the last few decades has been as follows: “Quality or work performance does not really matter. What ultimately matters is our own people (read as “one particular ethnic group”) are promoted and occupy the top positions.” If this is indeed true, the future looks terribly bleak for our beloved nation.
Coming back to Sikhism, the Sikhs consider themselves the disciples of their Ten Gurus (religious teachers) beginning with Guru Nanak (1469-1539) and ending with Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708). Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak in the late 15th century AD.
Although Sikhism bears some resemblance with the teachings of Hinduism and Islam, it is a separate and distinctive religion. As affirmed by the late W. H. McLeod (a leading authority on Sikhism), Guru Nanak “propounded original teachings, established a new religion, and gathered round himself a following drawn from both Hindus and Muslims.” Guru Nanak espoused the fundamental teachings of Sikhism which are often summarised as earning one’s bread by honest labour (kirt karna), sharing one’s earning with the needy (vand chakhna), and meditating on the holy Name of Lord Divine (nam japna).
The holy scripture of the Sikhs is the Guru Granth Sahib (also known as Adi Granth) which is regarded as the eternal Guru.
Dr. Ranjit Singh Malhi, Kuala Lumpur
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