(Penang, Tuesday): I was pleasantly surprised to read in Sunday’s papers of the announcement by the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad that all states in Malaysia would have at least one university under the Eighth Malaysia Plan 2001-2005, as on behalf of the DAP, I had called for a university for every state way back in the seventies and the building of private universities, including the Merdeka University.
If the Barisan Nasional government had listened to the DAP in the seventies, every state in Malaysia would have at least one university 20 years ago and not in another five years’ time by 2005 and Malaysia today would be better prepared to face the challenges of a K-economy, where knowledge, human ingenuity and skill have replaced labour and capital as the most important factor of production.
In the seventies and eighties, the need for the rapid expansion of university places in the country was the constant theme of my speeches in Parliament as this was one of the burning issues in the country, particularly among the non-Malays because of the acute problem of educational insecurity with regard to higher educational opportunities for their children in their homeland.
As a result, there was a mass exodus of professionals to countries abroad where their children would not suffer discrimination and denial of higher educational opportunities. Instead of reviewing its nation-building policies which caused such a “brain-drain”, Barisan Nasional leaders dismissed them as “a good riddance to bad rubbish”!
Malaysia lost two decades to reach the target of every state having at least one university, because the Barisan Nasional government was not prepared to be open-minded to consider the Opposition views and proposals.
I hope Musa would have learnt a lesson and be more open-minded with regard to constructive proposals from the DAP, particularly on the DAP’s call on the government to accord official recognition to the Chinese Independent Secondary Schools’ Unified Examinations Certificate (UEC) for entry into local universities as part of a strategy to attract the best brains regardless of race and nationality from at home and abroad to catapult Malaysia into the K-economy.
There is now a global competition among countries which want to be in the forefront of the K-economy to attract the best brains from any part of the world.
This is why last week, the Australian Government took the unprecedented
decision to allow 2,500 overseas students, studying Information Technology
in Australia, to immediately migrate as part of the Australian government's
attract skilled labour when in the past, foreign students had to leave Australia and return home after graduation before they could apply for permanent residence visas.
The Malaysian government should not be short-sighted or narrow-minded resulting in Malaysia losing out in the competition for the best brains, whether at home or abroad, if Malaysia is to enhance our international competitiveness in the global marketplace and become a successful K-economy.
This is why the Cabinet should take a serious view of the loss of over 500 of the "best and brightest" school-leavers from the 60 Chinese Independent Secondary Schools this year as they were directly recruited into Singapore universities and place on the Cabinet agenda the immediate government recognition of the Unified Examinations Certificate (UEC) to plug this braindrain to ensure Malaysia’s successful transformation to a K-economy.
The Cabinet should inform Malaysians, latest by March 19 when Parliament reconvenes, whether it is capable of realising the needs of a successful K-economy and accord official recognition to the UEC.