Although Parliament has approved the provision of 28,000 new university places for this year, the Government has not been able to fill up 7,168 university places because there are not enough eligible bumiputra students to meet the minimum university standards to make up the 55% needed to maintain the 55:45 quota for bumiputra and non-bumiputra students.
As there are no more bumiputera students to be recruited by the universities under the minimum standards and there are still 7,168 unfilled university places approved by Parliament in the 2001 Budget, these places should be released for eligible Chinese and Indian students for the sake of national unity and national development.
Malaysia has just celebrated the 2001 World Press Freedom Day on Thursday with several mainstream journalists taking part in forums and seminars where they spoke of their wish and commitment to see greater press freedom in the country.
Yet ironically, there has been a greater degree of self-censorship by the mainstream media, and the blackout or playing down of the issue of the 7,168 university places and the need for them to be opened up and released to non-bumiputra students is the latest example.
Probably, certain mainstream editors are intimidated by threats that they would be questioning the quota policy if they published reports on the matter, but this is a most misleading interpretation of the law.
As I have stressed in my email to Cabinet Ministers, they are not being asked to question the policy of the university quota system, but its flexible and smart implementation, when considering the release of the 7,168 unfilled places to Chinese and Indian students.