Musa has put the world’s ace  magician/illusionist David Copperfield to shame when after five days he could find 8,365 students who have not only already occupied but   exceeded the  7,168 unfilled university places

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad has put the world’s ace magician/illusionist David Copperfield to shame when after five days he could find 8,365 students who have not only already occupied but   exceeded the  7,168 unfilled university places.

In his interview with New Straits Times, Musa denied that there were 7,168 university places not filled because all qualified bumiputra students under the minimum university standards had been admitted, and he blamed  the Star for quoting this figure.

Blaming the Star, Musa said the Star reporter filed the wrong report when he “deducted the 30,800 from the targetted 38,000 figure and got the figure of 7000 plus”.

To be fair to Star, I was the first to use the figure of 7,168 unfilled university places in my media statement of 3rd May 2001, based on  press reports of the media conference given by the Education Ministry Higher Education Department director Professor Hassan Said last Wednesday that there was a 15% drop in total university places originally estimated at 38,000 - which was later picked up by Barisan Nasional leaders, like the Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob, leading to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad talking firstly about the government prepared to abolish the quota system if  this was the decision of the people and then about the government prepared to release the unfilled university places reserved for bumiputra places to non-bumiputras when there are no more bumiputra students to fill them.

And I still stand by these figures unless and until Musa can fully satisfy me that his latest explanation is not just a game with numbers and not  the greatest sandiwara of the century in Malaysia.

First, was it all the Star’s fault in reporting my figure of 7,168 unfilled university places from this year’s intake by the public universities?

We will not quote  the Star, which seems to be regarded as a biased paper by the Education Ministry. Let us look at all other other mainstream newspapers of Thursday May 3, 2001 on Hassan’s media announcement:

Utusan Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur - Seramai 30,832 lepasan Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) 2000 dan yang setaraf dengannya berjaya ke institusi pengajian tinggi awam (IPTA) pada sesi akademik 2002/2002 yang bermula Mei ini.

Kata Pengarah Jabatan Pendidikan Tinggi (JPT), Kementerian Pendidikan Prof. Dr. Hassan Said, walaupun jumlah yang memohon bertambah, tetapi penawaran tempat merosot 15 peratus.

Menurut beliau, bilangan permohonan yang diterima sebanyak 53,207, merupakan peningkatan sebanyak 29.9 peratus berbanding sesi akademik lalu.

“Penawaran tempat kali ini menurun sekitar 15 peratus, terutama dalam aliran sains keranaa permohonan yang tidak menepati syarat kelayakan,” katanya pada sidang media di pejabatnya disini hari ini.

Berita Harian

Kuala Lunmpur, Rabu - Seramai 30,832 pelajar lepasan Sijil Tinggi Persekolah (STPM) dan setaraf dengannya, ditawarkan tempat di 14 institusi pengajian tinggi awam (IPTA) bagi sesi akademik 2001/2002.

Pengarah Jabatan Pendidikan Tinggi Prof Dr. Hassan Said berakata daripada jumlah itu 76.5% pemohon dari aliran sains, manakala 60.2 peratus adalah pemohon aliran sastera.

Beliau berkata jumlah itu adalah kurang daripada 38,000 pelajar yang disasarkan memasuki IPTA bagi sesi berkenaan, walaupun bilangan pemohon meningkat 29.9 peratus kepada 53,207 orang berbanding bagi sesi 2000/2001.

New Straits Times

Kuala Lumpur, Wed. -  A total of 30,832 Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia holders have been offered places to pursue first degrees at public universities for the 2001/2002 academic session.

Education Ministry higher education department director Professor Dr. Hassan Said, who announced this today, said this represented a 15 per cent decrease from last year.

He attributed the decline in the number of intakes to “insufficient numbers taking up science at school level.”

“We cannot fulfil our target intake for the science cohort at university. Our target intake for science students this year was 53 per cent.

“However, we managed only to take in slightly more than 50 per cent,” Hassan said at a Press conference at the ministry.

From the above mainstream media reports (I am deliberately excluding the Chinese press), it is clear that Hassan had announced that there had been a 15 per cent drop in university intake from the targetted 38,000 university places because of a shortfall of qualified bumiputra science students.

How have this shortfall been suddenly made up by the so-called matriculation intake last year of  5,761 students and the 2,600 matriculation students from the International Islamic University?

By playing around with such figures, the Malaysian public has lost all confidence in the statistics given by Ministers and government officials.

Are Malaysians really to believe that when  Mahathir was responding to the issue of the 7,168 unfilled university places and their release to eligible Chinese and Indian students in the past two days, he did not know that this was a non-existent problem as the places had not only been filled but even exceeded?

To restore public confidence in the credibility of the university recruitment figures, there should be a full independent commission of inquiry into the whole question of university admissions, not only for this year, but for the past three decades, and to report on how such policies have contributed to meet the national development needs as well as national unity.

Otherwise, the Minister of Education will be famous as Malaysia’s own David Copperfield.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman