Cabinet should immediately recognise Unified Examinations Certificate (UEC) for entry into local universities as first step to prepare for Eighth Malaysia Plan to transform Malaysia into a knowledge-based economy

Speech at the Sungei Siput DAP Branch Chinese New Year Dinner held in Sungei Siput, Perak on Saturday,
February 3, 2001 but could not be delivered because of an accident at Sungkai and released as a media statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): The highlight of the  next Parliamentary meeting from March 19 to May 3 will be the  Eighth Malaysia Plan (2001-2005), which will be a blueprint to transform Malaysia into a knowledge-based economy.

In the past five years, Malaysia has lagged behind many countries like Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore in the race to prepare for the emerging knowledge economy.

The foundation stones of the knowledge economy are human ingenuity and skill and a commitment to innovation through research and development.

It is for this reason that countries in the forefront of the K-economy race, especially the United States, Japan and the European Union nations are also involved in a global competition for the best brains in the world.

On Wednesday, it was  reported that the Australian Government had decided to allow an extra 2,500 overseas students, studying Information Technology in Australia, to migrate as part of the Australian government's push to
attract skilled labour and that from July next year the students would also be able to apply for permanent residence visas without leaving Australia. All Information and Communications Technology (ICT) occupations would be recognised as key positions, removing the need for employers to find out if there was an Australian who could do the job.

In May last year, the German Foreign Minister Joschka Fisher went to Bangalore in India to vie with other countries like the United States, Japan and Ireland to woo the Indian software professionals, and although the German Government had approved the issue of 20,000 "green cards" to foreign computer specialists, the Indian IT talents still preferred  the United States as Germany lagged 10 years behind the United States in IT.

Last October, the United States Senate passed a Bill allowing some 600,000  high-tech foreign workers into the country.

Singapore is recruiting tens of thousands of high-tech workers from Malaysia  and has the biggest number of Malaysian IT professionals working in any country overseas.

If Malaysia is to transform itself into a successful K-economy under the Eighth Malaysia Plan, then it must have a three-point “brain gain”  strategy to attract  the best brains regardless of race and nationality from  at home and abroad, viz:

Early this year, Malaysia suffered a serious brain-drain when more than 500 of the "best and brightest" school-leavers from the 60 Chinese Independent Secondary Schools  were directly recruited into Singapore  universities - which must be regarded as a scandal for a country which wants to transform itself into a K-economy where knowledge, human ingenuity and skill have replaced labour and capital as the most important factor of production.

Malaysia cannot be serious in wanting to transform itself into a K-economy if it allows the annual  brain-drain of the “best and brightest” school-leavers from the Chinese Independent Secondary schools to continue unchecked because of the refusal of the government to accord recognition to the Unified Examinations
Certificate (UEC).

It is an educational outrage that while  Malaysia aims to become an international centre of educational excellence by attracting foreign students to come and pursue their tertiary-level studies here, the government is not prepared to create the conditions whereby the “best and brightest” school-leavers from the Chinese Independent Secondary Schools can complete their higher studies in the country and contribute to  Malaysia’s successful transformation into the K-economy.

When I was in Parliament, I had spoken consistently and insistently for government recognition of the Unified Examinations Certificate (UEC) in the interests of the Chinese Independent School students - but now, with Malaysia in the race with other countries to become a K-economy, such a recognition will be in the national interest as well.

I would urge MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers to ensure that such government recognition of UEC for entry into the local universities is granted before the parliamentary approval of the Eighth Malaysia Plan and the K-economy blueprint.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman