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Date [ 2015-12-02, 09:34 ]

Despite political upheavals, financial scandals and tightening of authority, Senior Lecturer and Deputy Dean of the Law Faculty, University Malaya, maintains Malaysians enjoy a high level of freedom.

(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) RamaniRathir=  Dr. Abdul Samad Abdul Ghani has two mortar boards on his head. At the Faculty of Law, University Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, he is the Senior Lecturer as well as the Deputy Dean in charge of research.

He specializes in jurisprudence and legal theory, criminology and criminal justice. That is quite a heavy workload but there is more. He brings all his experience gleaned over the years since he began at the faculty in 1982, by teaching the law of tort, constitutional law, cyber law, labour law and industrial relation law.  Enough to make you admire his ability to remember all these different aspects of the law.

But all this knowledge did not come on a platter for Dr.AbdulSamad. He entered the University of Liverpool, UK and after burning the midnight oil, took the stage for his graduation. He went on to receive his Masters degree from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK. And finally completed his PhD in 2006 from University of Leeds, UK.

The good doctor was kind enough to give his views on some of the issues facing Malaysia. When asked as a Senior Lecturer what were the major challenges he had faced since he began lecturing, the answers gave much room for thought.

He began by saying, “Teaching at university level is always challenging. One important challenge is how to deal with the ever changing generation of students. Students nowadays have more access to information – more content and more facilities – in comparison to 15 or 20 years ago. So university lecturers need to be more IT savvy in delivering their teaching and enhancing students learning experience. At the same time the conventional classroom method of teaching and learning need to be modified but not discarded. When these students go to work they still need to work and collaborate with real people who are their co-workers, clients and the public. So, a face-to-face interaction, in the course of teaching and learning, is still fundamental.

Another major challenge is make sure that the students are prepared to meet the demands of their future employers and the needs of the nation.”

Here then is the rest of the interview:

[Q] How do you compare with other UM faculties, in other words is your intake strong?

We have a strong intake. This year we have increased our undergraduate student intake. The number of postgraduate student, both Master and PhD, has been increasing steadily.

[Q] Being a lawyer has lost its sheen over the years. Why do you think this has happened and how to bring the glow back?

The number of lawyers has increased significantly especially in the last 25 years due to access to foreign law degrees. However, the demand for legal service remains high. In fact, in certain areas, such as criminal advocacy and some specialist commercial practice (for example, shipping law), there is a lack of high quality lawyers.

What is probably the concern among members of the public is the cost and quality of professional legal services? This aspect might have contributed to a degree of negative perception of the legal practice. This is a matter that needs to be addressed by the legal profession. 

[Q] Recently there have been tussles between the judiciary and the government machinery. It is said the judiciary has now lost much of its independence and powers of implementation. Your comments?

Despite some concerns, the judiciary still enjoys a high level of confidence from the legal profession, businesses and ordinary members of the public. In fact, the quality of judicial process has improves tremendously in the last 20 years.

[Q] Compared to UM students in other Asian cities who have often taken to the streets, ours seem mild by comparison. How would you look at this?

A lot of social, economic, legal and political changes have taken place in this country without the need to go to the streets. Perhaps, the majority of students felt that it is necessary to complete their studies successfully and later contribute politically and socially when they have themselves became a productive member of society. On the other hand, students might believe that existing political, legal, and socio-economic issues could eventually be solved in a calm and rational manner.

[Q] It has been reported that Malay students have dropped out of housemanship because of their poor command of English. As nothing of this sort has come out of the Law faculty, can we assume you have no such problems?

Applicants to law degrees at public universities are required to have a good command of English. Usually, they must achieve at least a MUET (Malaysian University English Test) band 4 when they apply. Law faculties also ensure that students undertake further English lessons. Most classes are conducted in English.

[Q] The PM has also stated that English is a must. How would you address our low level of English in academia?

Improvements in the level of English competency should take place primarily at schools. Universities are already doing a lot in providing additional and even compulsory English lessons to their students. Public universities are always concerned about their students’ ability to communicate well in English because this would affect their employability. However, they also need to ensure the students received sufficient education in their respective courses and that they are not overburdened by language classes.

[Q] How would you rate the level of freedom Malaysians now enjoy?

Malaysians enjoy a high level of freedom. Of course there are issues in some areas. But Malaysians enjoy a high level of freedom from violence and harm to their life and property. This aspect is beyond compromise, and consequently national security and public order is given the highest priority politically, socially and legally. As Malaysian society matures and enjoys a stable socio-economic well-being, various areas of rights and freedoms should improve.

[Q] If you were given the opportunity to build a bridge between the Law faculties of Korea and Malaysia, how would you go about it and what would be your criterion?

We are already connected to various law schools in Koreas – University of Korea, Yonsei University, Police University. We had a joint seminar with the law school of University of Pusan in Busan.  Our law faculty is also affiliated to a legal research network of Asian law institutions coordinated and organized by Korean Legal Research Institute (KLRI) in Seoul. We have received exchange students and lecturers from Korea, and we have our staff doing PhD in Seoul. Future projects should be in areas of joint research, staff exchange and conferences. We welcome all Korean law schools to these activities.

[Q] Do you think it is important for your faculty to have contacts with other law faculties in other universities in other parts of the world? Is this in progress and so what are the benefits?

We have always been in contact with other law faculties through various forms of interactions. These contacts have indeed increased lately as the University of Malaya has increased its position in global university ranking. We hope to improve the status and nature of this interaction towards more real objectives and outcomes in areas of research, student exchange and knowledge sharing. 


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