Distinguished Science Alumni Awards 2004
Musa bin MOHAMAD
BPharm 1964
Minister, Vice-Chancellor, Founder
Tan Sri Musa bin MOHAMAD graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Singapore in 1964. He was awarded the Chalmers Medal by the University Senate for best all round performance in the final year. He joined the Ministry of Health Malaysia as a house pharmacist in 1964 and continued to serve the Ministry as a Superintending Pharmaceutical Chemist till 1970 when he enrolled in the MSc (Pharmaceutical Technology) course at Chelsea College, University of London. He graduated with a MSc degree with a Mark of Distinction in 1972 and was awarded the Abbot's Prize for best student. On his return, he rejoined the Ministry of Health before he was called upon to serve as Foundation Dean of the Pharmacy School by University of Science Malaysia in 1975.
Tan Sri Musa has the distinction of being the first non-politician to be made a Minister of Education in Malaysia. His appointment by the Prime Minister through the Upper House was believed to be in recognition of his contributions to University of Science Malaysia (USM) as its third Vice-Chancellor from 1982 till he retired in 1995. Tan Sri Musa was Vice-Chancellor at a very young age of 39, which makes him the youngest academic in Malaysia ever appointed a Vice Chancellor, a feat not repeated by any other to this day.
As a Minister of Education spanning the period 1999 to 2004, he has relentlessly pursued the concept of equity in education through the provision of equal opportunities for quality education to all Malaysians, irrespective of race, religion, sex and geographical location.
As English is the major language of science, he introduced English as the medium of instruction for science and science related subjects including Mathematics in schools and universities in place of the national language. He also built several new polytechnics and introduced the concept of University Colleges of Science and Technology modelled along the German Fachhochshulen in order to enable more students to take up engineering and technical education with greater emphasis on the acquisition of skills. Five such University Colleges were built during his tenure.
In short Tan Sri Musa's concern for quality education, for democratisation of university education, for innovation and for research and development, particularly in science and technology, has been his forte and was carried through to his tenure as a Minister.
Tan Sri Musa's contributions to the nation, to academe, to the development of science and technology in Malaysia and to his profession as a pharmacist, have not gone unnoticed. He was awarded the top federal award by the King which carries the title Tan Sri, the top Perak State award carrying the title Dato' Seri and Dato' and the title Datuk by the State of Penang. He was awarded Honorary Doctorates of Science by USM and the University College of Science and Technology and the Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy (Technology Management) by the University College Tun Hussein Onn. He was also made Fellow of the Malaysian Academy of Sciences and the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society.