What is USM trying to do?


Who needs gold medals when you can be a serious global contender for a grand prize in gobbledygook….

Apparently, the Science University of Malaysia is planning to spend RM450 million to build a “science and arts innovation space”. USM had reportedly bought the 12.4ha plot of land in Bukit Jambul for RM59 million from IJM in March. (So much spare cash, huh? Or is it borrowed money? Or ultimately the rakyat’s money?) Looks as if USM is venturing into Big Business.

Today, in theSun, there was a four-page cover wrap-around ad (how much did that cost?) which featured this sains@usm thingy. It was full of gobbledygook and jargon.

Take this example from the V-C’s foreword:

The world of sains@usm will represent an innovative space that promotes highly integrated search and research with dedicated incubators and collaboratories as platforms to nurture transdisciplinarity as the way forward.

Huh? Could someone translate that please…

Under “Sustainability and Space”:

Sustainability, which is epitomised through the use of energy efficient design, not only embeds features that have long been successful in tropical micro-climate such as large overhangs and well-ventilated spaces but also inspires new and creative ideas.

Help! Can you imagine four pages of similar gobbledygook?

If you cut away all that gobbledygook, this is what they are planning:

  • a convention and exhibition centre
  • apartments
  • a boutique hotel “catering to the digital traveller” (as opposed to the discerning space traveller?)
  • “leisure and wellness facilities” (for a massage after long, boring meetings?)
  • retail spaces
  • galleries for Fine Arts and Sciences with a mini-theatre for performing arts
  • a day-care centre
  • “community-linked facilities and activities”
  • an international school
  • federal labs and facilities
  • USM’s Graduate Business School
  • GLC-linked research centres
  • MNC-linked research and training facilities (who’s paying for this? USM or the MNCs?)

Sounds a lot like property development work for a few lucky companies. If you own a bit of green space, cover it with concrete and call it sustainable development.

I don’t know about you but to me, if you want to do some research, you don’t really need lots of buildings, do you? But then, what do I know…

“sains@usm is designed to be a premier integrated community for the incubation and nurturing of start-up companies produced from the research community of USM”

I suppose times have changed and you have to start “synergising creativity and nurturing enterprise”! I guess they intend to go in a big way into biotech, nanotechnology (the next “in” thing) and clinical trials.

I just have this mental image of rows of incubators with ventilators furiously pumping life-giving oxygen… err, I mean start-up capital… into these tiny tot companies, as proud CEOs-to-be peer through the viewing gallery window, rubbing their hands in anticipation of new life filled with abundant profits.

This is from yesterday’s Star:

USM builds R&D park

GEORGE TOWN: Universiti Sains Malaysia will spend RM450mil on its science and arts park in Bukit Jambul here, which is expected to be ready in 2014.

Vice-chancellor Prof Tan Sri Dzulkifli Abdul Razak said the park would have apartments, a hotel, an international school, incubator laboratories, galleries, a mini theatre and research centres.

The centre, dubbed SAINS@USM which stands for Science and Arts Innovation Space, would serve as a research centre, tourist attraction and public park, he said.

“It will represent an innovative space that promotes integrated research with dedicated incubators and laboratories.

Royal launch: Dr Dzulkifli (left) explaining the model plan for SAINS@USM to Tuanku Sirajuddin and Tuanku Fauziah at the university on Sunday.

“SAINS@USM will not only represent the ideal space for academia and businesses to thrive, it will also reach out to communities near and far in a truly comprehensive and holistic manner,” he said at the launch of SAINS@USM at Dewan Budaya, USM here yesterday.

It was launched by the university’s chancellor Raja of Perlis Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail.

Also present were his consort Tuanku Fauziah Tengku Abdul Rashid, Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas and his wife Toh Puan Majimor Shariff.

An MoU was also signed between the university, Khazanah Nasional Bhd and six corporations to collaborate on SAINS@USM.

At the function, a representative from the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC), Norhalim Yunus, presented a RM24.35mil mock cheque for the funding of eight research projects at SAINS@USM.

And this is from the Business Times Online:

USM research park pulls in RM20m investments

By Marina Emmanuel
[email protected]

UNIVERSITI Sains Malaysia (USM) has attracted RM20 million in capital investments from local companies which will operate at its new research park at Bukit Jambul on Penang Island.

USM is set to ink memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with several companies tomorrow, which will include the government’s investment arm Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Malaysian Biotechnology Corp Sdn Bhd (BiotechCorp) and Biotropics Malaysian Bhd.

The sains@usm Bukit Jambul park will boast, among others, incubator laboratories, government-linked company research centres and those operated by multinational corporations, USM research and innovation division director Professor Zainul Fadziruddin Zainuddin said.

“The MOU with Biotropics (a company which is developing natural products) is for the setting up of a laboratory for standardisation of natural products for clinical trials, while BiotechCorp will be using the park to disperse nanotechnology to other universities in the country,” he told Business Times.

Zainul added that USM has also secured RM23 million worth of research commercialisation grants from the Malaysian Development Technology Corp, which will be used in part for start-up operations and pilot plants at the new park.

In March this year, USM had purchased a 12.4ha plot at Bukit Jambul for RM59 million from IJM Properties Sdn Bhd.

Zainul, who is set to head the development of the park, said that USM will set up a company to manage the research park, which will also boast a boutique hotel, convention and exhibition centre, performing arts centre and arts colony, along with retail space and apartments.

“We want to create an environment for local and international academia and businesses to interact and synergise,” he said, adding that among the economic potentials of the park would be to foster innovation, technology transfer, commercialisation of technology, while serving as a springboard for new intellectual property creations.

Zainul said while USM will seek public funding for some of the projects at the park, which will be carried out in three phases, other projects will be done via joint ventures.

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13 Oct 2009 2.08pm

surely there are a few at USM that actually do great work for the community!

10 Oct 2009 12.08pm

Using all these bombastic terms is only a show. Academics are good at this. The late Lim of Genting would never listen to academics. He even defied an engineer with his experience In a cynical way he once said, “I learn nothing from them for the practical world. Anyway,I respect them as they can talk.” Thus, the content is nil. The form is there. The substance is missing. Our universities are good at that. With the quality of academics we have, we can achieve no breakthroughs this century. It’s all rhetoric by academics and they are good at spending taxpayers’… Read more »

10 Oct 2009 11.56am

Capable people these days do not spend thousands of dollars going to universities to earn a degree. This is too conventional. It’s a waste of money. You don’t even have to go aconventional university to study courses in the arts. Education can easily be supervised through distance or virtual learning these days. Conventional education is very commercialised and money has become the target. Why pay thousands of dollars on university education when more effective ways of gaining knowledge can be done through virtual or distance learning. If a person is determined and sincerely wants to seek knowledge just go for… Read more »

9 Oct 2009 12.45am

sad to see comment produced by all of these so call Malaysian young generation. Full of complaint, no content. Instead of throwing negative and empty comment here, why not go and do something more useful? One of the bad thing about Malaysian education is to produce bunch of negative thinking student that will only complaint but not try to make a difference.

15 Sep 2008 3.41pm

The intention is noble, but it is utterly misplaced. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with fostering synergies between a university and the industries, and erecting shiny new buildings, you have to question if the money could be better spent elsewhere. A more fruitful approach would be a fundamental shift in educational policies to encourage (or coerce even, knowing Malaysian students) spirit of entrepreneurial and inquiry. What is the sense in plonking for a shiny arts centre if there are no artists to utilise it? The scale of this ambition ought to be revised to a more sensible proportion. Who, pray tell,… Read more »

usm student
usm student
26 Aug 2008 5.20pm

hey all…cut d crap off..what are these polytical issues..we r discussing about the usm project,so put all the polytical outside!!!

28 Jun 2008 1.09am

Albert, getting your priorities right and balancing it out is what it’s really all about. Technology advances everyday but do we have the ability to sustain our efforts? Why don’t you talk to people who really are in the know, like recruiters working in the factories in Bayan Lepas? Ask them about the quality of the interns from USM and you’ll get a pretty grim assessment. The development of a nation cannot be measured solely by the number of buildings and state of the art facilities you can put up. The problem is this is used to mask all our… Read more »

accountability please
accountability please
27 Jun 2008 10.01pm

What’s the point of building first class infrastructure (going by BN’s record, usually built by foreigners using rakyat’s money) when there is a MASSIVE brain drain going on right at our doorstep? Keep the brains in first, before talking about BIG GRAND projects lah.

Sure, keep on building infrastructure and educational facilities …but what did this produce? Brilliant scientists and engineers? Which MEGASTRUCTURE in Malaysia can we boast is truly Malaysian-constructed? SO SAD

27 Jun 2008 3.13pm

My dear Anil, sorry to say this, but you are too old to understand all this. Please don’t apply any laid-back mentality when discussing technology development, especially when we are putting ourselves with rest of the world. So most of the critics here (if they qualify to be called that way), these people is one of the reason why Malaysia is still lagging when we talk about R&D and university rankings. They simply bash blatantly, knowing themselves they are inferior in the relevant fields. This is the way to go if we want to lift our research capabilities, please drop… Read more »

donkey kong
donkey kong
26 Jun 2008 9.07pm

Simple explanation….those IPTAs like USM are so bloated with cash$$$$$$ that they do not how to spend the money……A suggestion…why just renovate the toilets as well, I mean all the toilets and replace those toilets with the cool ones from Japan that can wash your nice bum and blow them dry for you…? No need any paper…clean and environment friendly…?
C’mn improve the library and labs…what a way to spend the money…No wonder we are all getting poorer by the day….hey, it’s the RAKYAT’s MONEY, OK!!!! What out!!!!

25 Jun 2008 7.30pm

Btw, incubator projects are already available in
1. UPM
2. UniKL
3. TPM

And surely more. Any report on success?

25 Jun 2008 7.28pm

Sains@USM. All the beautifully worded statements is just a cover up in case HIgher Education Minister got the real gist. Apparently he did not. No wonder in 2007, Higher Education ministry is in the top 5 spending ministry. All 5 ministries are headed by UMNO, not surprisingly.

Sains@USM. They forgot to include Labs. Loads of Labs ( and real equipments la) if they want it to be called Sains@USM. If not, just call it anything else. MIT can spend millions on real lab and equipments, so do real universities.

raj raman666
raj raman666
25 Jun 2008 3.21pm

without reading further than where the money comes,

came from us
suck from us
The selected cronies.
rajraman.I have a dream – can u ask haris ibrahim whats my dream please.

25 Jun 2008 11.28am

Well some more umnoputras getting rich…….I have even lost all enthusiasm to comment as abuses, wastage is a way of life with BN gunddu’s. What will we raise and how many times……just lost it!!

Anak Pulau Pinang
Anak Pulau Pinang
25 Jun 2008 10.29am

Holy s***, umnodu, what’s got into you and what the hell are you talking about this BN and Pakatan Rakyat deal and what the heck has it got to do with our comments on the stupid s**t that USM is getting into. As it stood, negative comments were made with regard to the proposal for senseless wanton waste of money on another white elephant project which the people in the supposed Ivory Towers in Minden area have no excuse to be involved in. And hear you are coming our with your defense of the BN (who in the name of… Read more »

25 Jun 2008 9.32am

Leaving USM alone will be tough. The “Education” ministry is all over USM. What we need is for Malaysian Us to act like universities, not just as a place for cronies to have an office, fancy titles and access to yearly budgets. It seems in Malaysia, Us have valuable land banks. This is especially true for UM and USM as they are located in KL and Penang. Remember the similar UM project not too far back? Haven’t you seen people on the admin board whom you would not hire as a gardener? And what they need to do in return… Read more »

25 Jun 2008 12.46am

It’s property development project for the selected few at the first sight. I si wish USM Prof Zul can prove me wrong. My opinion is that USM can spend more, 20 million is nothing – spend 100 million instead, if you really want to set up top notch research facilities and improve research and teaching standards. Generally speaking, there is no economical yet effective and efficient scientific research in this modern world. The CM can go on to fly economy class but when it comes to research, money, tonnes of money needs to be spent. However, the key question is… Read more »

Pao Sium
Pao Sium
24 Jun 2008 10.33pm

Dear all, In USM, you still find a) yourself being attacked in mosquito-infested campus areas; b) poorly paid pink-collar workers who live on RM400-500 monthly. They are hired based on contracts and prone to dismissal; they are the ones cleaning up the mess by university-attending people and being responsible to make the Green Uni green; c) a total redundant bunch of admin staff who go for tea-breaks between 9 to 10am (don’t know about the afternoon part, didn’t care to wait); d) your pillow being confiscated (without notice) after 2 years staying in hostel and being told that you can… Read more »

24 Jun 2008 7.52pm

They are cooking the cooked brinjal, again and again. Can we have a little taste of it?????????? NOOOOOOOO WAYYYYYYYY.

24 Jun 2008 6.58pm

Almost no one can fail SPM now. How true. One really wonders what those strings of A’s actually stand for. Independent thinking? Nope. Relevant application of knowledge? Nope. Good communication skills? Nope.

Parental pride? Yes. An over-inflated ego? Yes. Money churning tuition centres mushrooming all over? Yes.

There was a time when having extra tuition meant that either you simply could not be bothered to pay attention in class or you were pretty thick.

24 Jun 2008 6.10pm

Yes, some of the items (hotels???) are completely unnecessary.

Yes, maybe it cost too much (RM450 Million can get you a lot..a lot of quality books to fill a shiny new modern library…)

But sometimes I feel like it doesn’t matter what the purpose is or how it is done, as long as it’s from Barisan (or something related to it), it’s bad…

What about Pakatan Rakyat? Your virtuous alternative can only make promises, but can’t deliver, especially here in Selangor.

Nevertheless,another great piece of investigative journalism

Juan Taman
Juan Taman
24 Jun 2008 5.56pm

Will spending so much money make USM one of the World top 20 Uni? I think this is what tax payers like to know.
Those abstract jargon on research only confuses the public!Why can’t we bench mark and find ways to be the best in the world and spend our money wisely!

nick chan abdullah
nick chan abdullah
24 Jun 2008 5.26pm

malaysia has excellent looking universities comparable to zaha hadid creations.

let’s achieve ‘most beautiful universities’ in the world rankings!

why care about education quality? almost no one can fail SPM now

10 Joules
24 Jun 2008 4.01pm

I am a Penang boy studying at NUS. At my university, they have this area called the NUS Business Incubator which provides physical equipment and facilities and proffesional resources at lower-than-market-prices to university students who wish to start-up a new business. You can find out more from their website at : http://www.nus.edu.sg/nvs/incubator/index.htm If what USM is proposing is somewhat similar in concept as the NUS Business Incubator, I would contend that this is a very good idea, since this can help boost Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in good old Penang and will definitely help alleviate the dismal unemployment figures… Read more »

24 Jun 2008 3.46pm

I am a former USM student and I presently live just 5 minutes away from this SAINS@USM thingamajig. I pass the site everyday but don’t know what it is. I tried to read & understand what those 4 pages were about (so at least I will appear intelligent when someone asks me what’s going on at USM) but had to stop at page 1. The bull-$*** was overwhelming. I almost passed out.