• Consult with stakeholders before introducing a national healthcare insurance scheme to avoid another 1Care fiasco

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 28th of July, 2016

    Consult with stakeholders before introducing a national healthcare insurance scheme to avoid another 1Care fiasco

    Over the past few days, the Minister of Health, Dr. S. Subramaniam[1] and the Secretary General of the Treasury, Dr. Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah[2] both announced and confirmed that the government is planning to introduce a national healthcare insurance scheme in the very near future. Dr. Mohd Irwan went so far as to say that the plan will be presented as part of the 2017 Budget which means that the details of this plan will be finalized by October of this year, at the very latest.

    One still remembers the public backlash when the 1Care national healthcare insurance was proposed back in 2011 and the plan eventually had to be scrapped / postponed. Given that healthcare and healthcare financing is an incredibly complicated issue and there are many options available on the table for countries to adopt, it is astounding that the government is still taking the top down approach in coming up with a plan and then announcing its introduction to Malaysians without any public consultations.

    A well-known Health Economist from Harvard University, Professor William Hsiao, has been working with the government to design his proposed healthcare insurance scheme.[3] Recently, the Joint Learning Network for University Healthcare Access in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Malaysia, the World Bank and other NGOs, held its global meeting in Putrajaya where issues of healthcare access were discussed and examples across countries where shared.[4] I am sure that interested stakeholders including Malaysian Members of Parliament with backgrounds in the health sector would have benefitted from being briefed by Professor Hsiao and also attending the JLN meeting in Putrajaya. And yet, this has not been done, as far as I know.

    The consequence of this top-down decision making process is that there will be a lot of misinformation and speculation as to the underlying motivation for introducing this healthcare insurance scheme when it is announced. This will make it all but impossible to have a rational and fact-based discussion and debate on this issue.

    I call upon the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance to hold consultations with the various stakeholder groups including Members of Parliament so that the details of this healthcare insurance plan can be discussed and feedback can be collected before it can be introduced to the public. It is not too late to avoid another 1Care fiasco.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/07/23/govt-may-run-national-health-insurance-scheme/

    [2] http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/treasury-sec-gen-says-looking-to-improve-br1m-programme

    [3] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/william-hsiao/

    [4] http://www.worldbank.org/en/events/2016/07/20/joint-learning-network-for-universal-health-coverage-jln-global-meeting-2016#1

  • 我国大学的学术造假现象到底有多严重?

    (2016年7月25日)沙登区国会议员王建民博士的媒体声明

    我国大学的学术造假现象到底有多严重

    约一个月前,马来亚大学的医学院于2016年6月11日被揭露了涉嫌学术研究造假的行为,包括许多成员以作者或联合撰写的身份参与多份的科学论文出版。令人值得称道的是,马大迅速对此展开调查,并进一步地发现“由一组研究员通过其他三分刊物所发表的科学论文的几乎所有数据(照片和图表)都出现重复和操纵的弊端。[1] 随后,这些论文也被相关的科学刊物撤回。[2]

    马大迅速和果断的行动向外界释放出了一个强烈信号,也就是我国研究型大学对学术研究造假的现象是绝不妥协和不欢迎。然而,针对学术诚信和造假所衍生出的更大的课题仍有待被解决。

    举个例子,这次的学术造假的个案是被来自国外的研究员和学者所揭弊,而非大学的内部审查。实际上,这次的揭弊首先是出现在推特(Twitter),随后便被来自Microbiome Digest, For Better ScienceScience的部落格注意和跟进。其中一名近期联合撰写题为“生物医药研究论文出现图片不当复制的盛行现象”的斯坦福大学研究员-Elisabeth Bik,便在 Microbiome Digest评论每篇论文不仅出现图片重复,而且彼此的数据看来都非常相似(尽管各论文探讨的癌细胞和化合物都不一样!)。若少了上述的监督,我们是否还能揭露类似的学术造假呢?

    此外,除了第一作者Nina Samie之外,这四篇署名的作者是否都知道,同样的研究被复制三次,并透过不同的标题在四份不同的刊物上发表呢?这样的学术造假是否不仅涉及发表的内容,而且还包括其他的署名作者全被欺骗?更糟糕的可能性是,难道他们全都是这起造假事件的同谋?

    令人感到不安的是,这起个案可能只是我国缺乏诚信和廉正的学术界之冰山一角。虽然我仍坚信绝大多数马大学生和研究人员在期刊上发表过高达3,823份论文都是具有学术诚信和廉正[3],但我们更不能不提防同一筐的少数坏苹果。

    同时,我也曾听说其他例子,包括初级教职员和研究员被迫在自己的论文中替他们的上司署名分享成果,哪怕他们过去对该论文没有作出任何明显的学术贡献。有些甚至要求第一作者的署名,以显示他或她在该论文是执笔者,扮演了主导和主要贡献的角色。在一些更糟糕的情况下,一些资深学者甚至拒绝让初级教职员或年轻研究员署名,仿佛将一切学术贡献和信用占为己有。

    马大对这起学术造假事件发表媒体声明是并不足够的。作为马来西亚最具有历史性和最负盛名的高等学府,马大在涉及到维护学术诚信和廉正标准的课题上应该进一步地发挥主导角色。因此,我呼吁马来亚大学公布其内部调查的完整报告和所提出的建议名单,以免未来同样的事件会重蹈覆辙。此外,马大也应公开对涉嫌造假的研究员所开出的处罚细节,以便向其他学院释放出一个有关学术造假的严重后果的强烈信号。

    此外,我呼吁高等教育部长伊德里斯全面检讨教育部和马来亚大学所推介的高成效研究(HIR)的合作计划。其中上述三篇论文的作者获得来自此计划的两笔巨额的研究经费,以出版Tier-1級科学期刊文献检索工具。[4] 根据马大2014年的年度报告,教育部已经在这项计划里注入了高达59亿令吉的资金,加上马大的额外拨款,持续地资助这个研究项目直到2016年。由于大量资金的投入加上其两个研究项目涉及学术造假,因此为了公共利益着想,我们有必要进一步地公布和审查此计划的进展。如果伊德里斯部长真心地想确保高教部[表现突飞猛进](Soaring Upwards)计划的成功,那他就应该认真对待这个课题,不要试图掩盖真相。

    王建民博士
    沙登区国会议员

    [1] http://www.um.edu.my/about-um/media-centre/news/2016/06/16/allegations-of-scientific-misconduct-at-university-of-malaya

    [2] Samie N., Haerian B.S., Muniandy S., Marlina A., Kanthimathi M.S., Abdullah N.B., Ahmadian G. and Aziddin R.E.R. (2016) Mechanism of Action of the Novel Nickel(II) Complex in Simultaneous Reactivation of the Apoptotic Signaling Networks Against Human Colon Cancer Cells. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 6:313. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2015.00313
    (Received: 19/11/15 | Accepted: 18/12/15 | Published: 28/1/16 | Retracted: 29/6/16 )

    Samie N., Muniandy S., Kanthimathi M., Haerian B.S. (2016) Mechanism of action of novel piperazine containing a toxicant against human liver cancer cells. PeerJ, 4:e1588. doi: 10.7717/peerj.1588
    (Received: 17/11/15 | Accepted: 21/12/15 | Published: 17/3/16 Retracted: 26/6/16)

    Samie N., Muniandy S., Kanthimathi M.S., Haerian, B.S., Azudin, R.E.R. (2016) Novel piperazine core compound induces death in human liver cancer cells: possible pharmacological properties. Scientific Reports, 6:24172. doi: 10.1038/srep24172
    (Received: 1/10/15 | Accepted 23/3/16 | Published: 13/4/16 | Retracted: 22/6/16)

    Samie N., Kanthimathi M.S., Muniandy S., Marlina, A., Mohamed Z., Abdullah, N. Revamp of the apoptotic signalling pathways and cell cycle arrest in colon cancer cells induced by novel copper based compound and its molecular mechanisms. Recent Patents on Anti-Cancer Drug Discovery. (Withdrawn before publishing – can no longer be found online)

    [3] https://www.um.edu.my/docs/default-source/about-um_document/media-centre/annual-report/annual-report-2014.pdf,  p. 28

    [4] http://hir.um.edu.my

  • Betapa seriuskah penipuan akademik di universiti kita?

    Kenyataan Media oleh Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Ahli Parlimen Serdang pada 25 Julai 2016

    Betapa seriuskah penipuan akademik di universiti kita?

    Lebih daripada sebulan yang lepas, pada 11 Jun 2016, Fakulti Perubatan Universiti Malaya telah dimaklumkan tentang dakwaan penipuan akademik yang dilakukan oleh beberapa ahli fakulti yang merupakan penulis / penulis bersama beberapa kertas penerbitan saintifik. Pihak universiti kemudian mengadakan siasatan berhubung kes tersebut dan mendapati bahawa ‘terdapat duplikasi dan / atau manipulasi terhadap hampir kesemua jadual dan rajah dalam kertas asal dalam Scientific Reports dan di dalam 3 buah penerbitan lain yang dikarang oleh kumpulan penyelidik tersebut’ justeru telah  memanggil mereka untuk menarik balik kesemua 4 artikel itu.[1] Artikel-artikel itu kemudian telah ditarik balik daripada jurnal yang terlibat.[2]

    Tindakan pantas pihak Universiti telah menyampaikan mesej kuat iaitu bahawa universiti penyelidikan nasional tidak akan bertoleransi terhadap penipuan akademik dan ini harus dipuji. Namun persoalan yang lebih besar berkenaan intergriti dan penipuan akademik masih belum terjawab.

    Sebagai contoh, pembongkaran kes ini berlaku disebabkan oleh penelitian ahli akademik dan penyelidik luar negara, dan bukannya kerana siasatan dalaman pihak universiti. Dakwaan tersebut muncul menerusi Twitter dan kemudiannya dipetik oleh blog seperti Microbiome Digest, For Better Science dan Science. Elisabeth Bik, seorang penyelidik dari Stanford yang pada baru-baru ini telah mengarang bersama kertas penyelidikan bertajuk “The Prevalence of Inapprioprite Image Duplication in Biomedical Research Publications”, berpendapat di Microbiome Digest bahawa bukan sahaja pertindihan berlaku dalam imej setiap kertas penyelidikan, malahan angka-angka juga kelihatan sama dalam hampir kesemua kertas (walaupun kertas itu adalah berkenaan dengan sel kanser dan kompaun yang berlainan!). Tanpa penelitian sebegini, adakah penipuan akademik ini akan ditemui?

    Tambahan lagi, adakah pengarang empat buah kertas tersebut (selain Nina Samie yang merupakan ketua pengarang dalam kesemua kertas tersebut) sedar bahawa kajian mereka ditiru tiga kali dan dihantar ke 4 jurnal yang berlainan? Adakah penipuan akademik berlaku bukan hanya dari segi isi kandungan, tetapi juga dari segi cara pengarang bersama mungkin ditipu, atau lebih teruk lagi, mungkin bersubahat dalam hal ini?

    Apa yang membimbangkan adalah kes ini mungkin merupakan sebahagian kecil daripada permasalahan kelemahan integriti akademik dan kejujuran dalam sistem pendidikan tinggi kita. Walaupun saya percaya majoriti besar daripada 3,823 kertas penyelidikan yang ditulis oleh staf dan pelajar UM dalam jurnal berindeks dilakukan dengan jujur dan berintegriti[3], hanya sebilangan kecil kes bermasalah mampu mencemarkan reputasi kesemua orang.

    Saya pernah mendengar khabar tentang ahli fakulti junior dan penyelidik yang dipaksa untuk memasukkan nama penyelia mereka ke dalam kertas akademik walaupun mereka (penyelia) tidak menyumbangkan input intelektual atau kerja yang mendalam untuk menghasilkan kertas tersebut. Terdapat juga penyelia yang mendesak untuk dinamakan sebagai pengarang pertama yang memberi gambaran bahawa mereka mengambil peranan utama dan melakukan kerja-kerja utama untuk penerbitan tersebut. Bahkan terdapat kes yang lebih teruk iaitu terdapat ahli akademik senior yang menuntut semua hak intelektual untuk diri sendiri dengan tidak membenarkan ahli akademik junior meletakkan nama mereka dalam penerbitan. 

    Adalah tidak mencukupi untuk UM hanya menerbitkan kenyataan akhbar berhubung penipuan akademik ini. Sebagai insitusi yang tertua dan palingberprestij di Malaysia, UM sepatutnya mengambil peranan utama dalam menegakkan piawaian dan integriti akademik dan kejujuran intelektual. Sehubungan dengan itu, saya menyeru pihak UM untuk menerbitkan prosiding penuh siasatan dalaman terhadap perkara ini dan mengesyorkan perubahan kepada garis panduan sedia ada bagi mengelakkan perkara sebegini daripada berulang. Selain itu, UM seharusnya mendedahkan apa sebenarnya hukuman yang dikenakan terhadap penyelidik-penyelidik yang terlibat demi menghantar mesej yang tegas kepada ahli fakulti yang lain tentang kesan serius penipuan akademik.

    Selain itu, saya menggesa Menteri Pengajian Tinggi, Idris Jusoh untuk menjalankan kajian semula yang menyeluruh terhadap usahasama Penyelidikan Berimpak Tinggi (HIR) antara Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi (KPT) dan Universiti Malaya (UM) yang bertujuan untuk memberi dana kepada projek penyelidikan bagi menghasilkan penerbitan dalam jurnal ISI Tier 1/ jurnal Web of Science[4]. Pengarang 3 kertas yang terlibat dalam kes penipuan akademik telah menerima 2 geran penyelidikan daripada usahasama ini. Menurut laporan tahunan UM 2014, KPT telah menyuntik dana RM590 juta ke dalam program ini, dengan tambahan dana dari UM, untuk mendanai projek penyelidikan sehingga 2016. Memandangkan sejumlah besar dana dikhususkan untuk inisiatif ini dan hakikat bahawa dua daripada projek dikenalpasti terlibat dalam penipuan akademik, adalah menjadi isu kepentingan awam untuk menerbitkan secara awam maklumat dana projek ini dan mengkajinya semula. Jika Idris Jusoh serius ingin memastikan sistem pendidikan kita sejajar dengan laungan ‘Soaring Upwards’, beliau perlu mengambil serius perkara ini dan tidak cuba menutup hal sebenar.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Ahli Parlimen Serdang

    [1] http://www.um.edu.my/about-um/media-centre/news/2016/06/16/allegations-of-scientific-misconduct-at-university-of-malaya

    [2] Samie N., Haerian B.S., Muniandy S., Marlina A., Kanthimathi M.S., Abdullah N.B., Ahmadian G. and Aziddin R.E.R. (2016) Mechanism of Action of the Novel Nickel(II) Complex in Simultaneous Reactivation of the Apoptotic Signaling Networks Against Human Colon Cancer Cells. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 6:313. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2015.00313
    (Received: 19/11/15 | Accepted: 18/12/15 | Published: 28/1/16 | Retracted: 29/6/16 )

    Samie N., Muniandy S., Kanthimathi M., Haerian B.S. (2016) Mechanism of action of novel piperazine containing a toxicant against human liver cancer cells. PeerJ, 4:e1588. doi: 10.7717/peerj.1588
    (Received: 17/11/15 | Accepted: 21/12/15 | Published: 17/3/16 Retracted: 26/6/16)

    Samie N., Muniandy S., Kanthimathi M.S., Haerian, B.S., Azudin, R.E.R. (2016) Novel piperazine core compound induces death in human liver cancer cells: possible pharmacological properties. Scientific Reports, 6:24172. doi: 10.1038/srep24172
    (Received: 1/10/15 | Accepted 23/3/16 | Published: 13/4/16 | Retracted: 22/6/16)

    Samie N., Kanthimathi M.S., Muniandy S., Marlina, A., Mohamed Z., Abdullah, N. Revamp of the apoptotic signalling pathways and cell cycle arrest in colon cancer cells induced by novel copper based compound and its molecular mechanisms. Recent Patents on Anti-Cancer Drug Discovery. (Withdrawn before publishing – can no longer be found online)

    [3] https://www.um.edu.my/docs/default-source/about-um_document/media-centre/annual-report/annual-report-2014.pdf,  p. 28

    [4] http://hir.um.edu.my

  • How serious is academic fraud in our universities?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 25th of July, 2016

    How serious is academic fraud in our universities?

    More than a month ago, on the 11th of June, 2016, the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Malaya was alerted of alleged academic misconduct on the part of some faculty members who were authors / co-authors in a number of scientific publications. To its credit, the University quickly convened an investigation and found that ‘there were duplication and / or manipulation of almost all the figures (images and graphs) within the original Scientific Reports paper and across three other publications authored by the group of researchers” and called for the authors to retract all four articles.[1] The articles were subsequently retracted by the journals in question.[2]

    The university’s quick and decisive action sends a strong signal that research fraud is not tolerated in our national research universities and it should be applauded accordingly. But larger questions regarding academic integrity and academic fraud remain unanswered.

    For example, this specific case of academic fraud was discovered not by an internal probe within the university but because of scrutiny by academics and researchers from outside the country. The allegations which were first highlighted on twitter was then picked up by blogs such as Microbiome Digest, For Better Science and Science. Elisabeth Bik, a Stanford researcher who recently co-authored a paper titled “The Prevalence of Inappropriate Image Duplication in Biomedical Research Publications”, suggested on Microbiome Digest that not only were the images duplicated within each paper, but that the figures look very similar across papers (despite the papers being about different cancer cells and different compounds!). Without such scrutiny, would this academic fraud have been discovered?

    In addition, were the authors in all four papers (other than Nina Samie who was the lead author in all of the papers) aware that the same study was replicated thrice and submitted to four different journals under different titles? Was there academic fraud not just in terms of the content published but also in the manner in which the different co-authors may have been duped or worse yet, were complicit partners in this scandal?

    What is disconcerting is that this specific case may be the tip of the iceberg of what is poor academic integrity and honesty in our higher education system. While I believe that a large majority of the 3823 papers which were published by UM students and staff in indexed journals have been done with academic integrity and honesty,[3] it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the barrel.

    I have heard of instances of junior faculty and researchers being forced to include the names of their supervisors on academic papers even though their supervisors did not contribute any significant intellectual input or work. Some supervisors even insist of being named as first author which implies that he or she took the leading role and did much of the work for the publication in question. In some worse cases of academic fraud, some senior academics even refuse to allow the junior faculty or researcher to put their name in the publication thus claiming all the intellectual credit for himself or herself.

    It is not sufficient for UM to merely issue a press statement on this specific instance of academic fraud. As the oldest and arguably most prestigious academic institution in Malaysia, it should take a leading role when it comes to upholding standards of academic integrity and intellectual honesty. As such, I call upon the University of Malaya to publish the full proceedings of its internal investigation into this matter and to recommend changes to existing guidelines so these kinds of cases do not happen again. In addition, UM should also disclose the exact nature of the punishment meted out to the researchers in question so as to send a strong signal to other faculty of the serious consequences of academic fraud.

    In addition, I call upon the Minister of Higher Education, Idris Jusoh, to conduct a comprehensive review of the High Impact Research (HIR) initiative between his Ministry and the University of Malaya. The authors of three of the papers received two research grants from this initiative which is a collaboration between the Ministry of Education and the University of Malaya to fund projects that will lead to publications in Tier 1 ISI/Web of Science journals[4]. According to the UM 2014 annual report, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has injected RM590 million into the programme, with additional funding from UM, to fund research projects up till 2016. Given the large amount of funds dedicated to this initiative and that the fact that two of its research projects were found to be academically fraudulent, it is in the public interest for the funding for all the projects under this initiative to be publicly disclosed and reviewed. If Idris Jusoh is serious about ensuring that our higher education system is ‘Soaring Upwards’, he should take this matter seriously and not try to cover things up.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.um.edu.my/about-um/media-centre/news/2016/06/16/allegations-of-scientific-misconduct-at-university-of-malaya

    [2] Samie N., Haerian B.S., Muniandy S., Marlina A., Kanthimathi M.S., Abdullah N.B., Ahmadian G. and Aziddin R.E.R. (2016) Mechanism of Action of the Novel Nickel(II) Complex in Simultaneous Reactivation of the Apoptotic Signaling Networks Against Human Colon Cancer Cells. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 6:313. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2015.00313 (Received: 19/11/15 | Accepted: 18/12/15 | Published: 28/1/16 | Retracted: 29/6/16 )

    Samie N., Muniandy S., Kanthimathi M., Haerian B.S. (2016) Mechanism of action of novel piperazine containing a toxicant against human liver cancer cells. PeerJ, 4:e1588. doi: 10.7717/peerj.1588 (Received: 17/11/15 | Accepted: 21/12/15 | Published: 17/3/16 Retracted: 26/6/16)

    Samie N., Muniandy S., Kanthimathi M.S., Haerian, B.S., Azudin, R.E.R. (2016) Novel piperazine core compound induces death in human liver cancer cells: possible pharmacological properties. Scientific Reports, 6:24172. doi: 10.1038/srep24172 (Received: 1/10/15 | Accepted 23/3/16 | Published: 13/4/16 | Retracted: 22/6/16)

    Samie N., Kanthimathi M.S., Muniandy S., Marlina, A., Mohamed Z., Abdullah, N. Revamp of the apoptotic signalling pathways and cell cycle arrest in colon cancer cells induced by novel copper based compound and its molecular mechanisms. Recent Patents on Anti-Cancer Drug Discovery. (Withdrawn before publishing – can no longer be found online)

    [3] https://www.um.edu.my/docs/default-source/about-um_document/media-centre/annual-report/annual-report-2014.pdf, p. 28

    [4] http://hir.um.edu.my

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