Thursday, May 19, 2022

Najib cites fake news on MIT’s Indonesian campus as he lists ‘achievements’ in making Malaysia an education hub

The former prime minister says the plan to make Malaysia a centre of learning appeared to have stopped after his fall from power in 2018.

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A news report shared by Najib Razak that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is opening a joint campus with a leading Chinese university in Indonesia has turned out to be fake, with the prestigious US university denying the claim published in the Indonesian media.

The former prime minister, quoting a report, said the decision by MIT and Tsinghua University to set up a campus in Bali showed that the two leading universities preferred Indonesia over Malaysia, adding that it was a setback for the country’s vision of becoming an international educational hub.

He then said that during his time as education minister and prime minister, a total of 11 foreign universities had set up campus in Malaysia.

“Hundreds of thousands of Malaysian students benefited at the same time, saving on their education costs,” Najib said in a Facebook post yesterday, adding that the plan to make Malaysia a centre of learning appeared to have stopped after his fall from power in 2018.

Najib said the idea by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to bring in a Japanese university never received any follow-up either.

“I hope the current education minister will work to attract the University of Tsukuba and other world-renowned universities to set up campus in Malaysia so that the country can continue its aspiration to become an international education hub and grow its human capital.”

MIT has however denied the report.

In a response to the claims made in the Indonesian media, it said it had never inked any cooperation with Tsinghua University to set up a campus in Bali, adding that a university complex being built in the holiday island had nothing to do with it.

Last December, Bali’s former governor Made Mangku Pastika told the press that a new technological university was under construction in cooperation with the two universities. It is understood that the university, Upaya Indonesia Damai, would be inaugurated by President Joko Widodo some time in the middle of this year.

Meanwhile, checks showed that MIT has already established some form of educational cooperation in Malaysia in the formation of the Asia Business School (ASB), a partnership between Bank Negara Malaysia and the MIT Sloan School of Management.

ASB’s faculty and board members also comprise leading American academics, including MIT Sloan founding president Charles Fine, Athanasios Orphanides, Richard Schmalensee and David Schmittlein.

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