Third email in a week for a meeting with Musa to be convinced that there are no 7,168 unfilled university places and for explanation as to why the 55:45 university entrance quota for bumiputras and non-bumiputras had not been adhered to in the past decade

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Thursday): The Ministerial statement by the  Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad in Parliament yesterday claiming that there had never been 7,168 unfilled university places had not been convincing and I am sure if an opinion poll is taken in the country, substantial numbers of Malaysians will find it unbelievable and unacceptable.

In the first place, Musa made no attempt whatsoever to explain the statement by the Education Ministry Higher Education Department director Professor Hassan Said the previous Wednesday (3rd May 2001) that 30,800 university places  were offered representing  a 15% drop in total university intake this year  originally estimated at 38,000 university places because of a shortfall of qualified bumiputra science students.

The reason given by Hassan about the shortfall of qualified bumiputra science students cannot be wished away by the subsequent claim that two groups of matriculation students had been inadvertently omitted.

In fact, I contend that there are still 7,168 unfilled university places as these two groups of matriculation students should not be included in this year’s university intake.  This is because the first group of 5,761 matriculation students  enrolled into the universities last November should be considered as intake for the 2000/2001 academic year and not for the current year. The second group of 2,604 matriculation students in the International Islamic University should also not be included since the university is not considered one of the 14 local public institutions of higher learning.

Musa claims that adding the two groups of matriculation students to the figure  30,800 mentioned by Hassan last Wednesday, the actual number of students offered places at public universities is 39,197, or 1,197 more than the targetted admission of 38,000.

What is most amazing about the Education Ministry’s new explanation is its claim that  even with the additional 8,365 bumiputra students, the new figures still show a 55:45 bumiputra to non-bumiputra ratio as in the earlier figure of 30,800 students.

Mathematically, it is impossible to have this 55:45 ratio both before and after the 8,365 extra bumiputra  students have been added to the total  as the number of non-bumiputra  offers have not increased.

When the total number of university places offered was 30,800,  the ratio would  would work out to 16,940 bumiputras (55%), 10,780 Chinese (35%) and 3,080 Indians (10%).  When the 8,365 bumiputra students from the two matriculation groups are added to give a new total of 39,197, the bumiputra/non-bumiputra ratio would have been altered to 16,940+8365 = 25,305 bumiputras (64.6%) and  10,780 + 3,080 = 13,860 non-bumiputras (35.4%).  This is way out of the 55-45 quota for bumiputras and non-bumiputras for university admissions.

There is another discrepancy. The Star last Saturday (May 7, 2001) reported the Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Hon Choon Kim announcing in Seremban that out of the 4,998 places offered to SPM students for degree courses in three universities, 1,586 Chinese students  had been offered places based on their five best science subjects.

Hon does not seem to know that 1,586 out of 4,998 is only 31.7 per cent, when the quota for Chinese students is  35%, which should give a figure of 1,749 - a reduction of 163 places.  It is clear that the MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers are not very diligent in discharging their responsibilities.

I am not convinced at all by the explanation by Musa claiming that the national uproar over the 7,168 unfilled places were all a misunderstanding because of the fault of a reporter.

I have sent an email to Musa for the third time in a week on the issue of fair university admissions asking for a meeting as I want to be  convinced that there were no 7,168 unfilled university places.  I have not received any response from my two earlier emails to Musa, and I do not know whether he reads and acts on emails, but if there is again no reply from Musa to my third email to him in a week, then the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should review the  government’s plan to introduce  an electronic government and even reconsider plans to  transfer all Ministries to Putrajaya.

Musa should not only give fuller information to convince Malaysians that the claim that there were no 7,168 unfilled university places was not a “sleight of hand”, he should also explain why the 55:45 university entrance quota for bumiputras and non-bumiputras had not been adhered to in the past decade by the public universities.

In 1990, out of a total university enrolment of 53,670 students,  bumiputra students comprised 65.9% or 35,361 while non-bumiputra students comprised 34.1% or 18,309. In 1999, out of a total university enrolment of 139,290, bumiputra students comprised 69.9% or 97,836 while non-bumiputra students comprised 30.1% or 42,084.

These are way out of the 55:45 quota for bumiputra and non-bumiputra students for university admissions.

Musa should release all university intake figures for the past 25 years to establish whether the government had adhered or deviated from the 55:45 ratio - and this will be  the second purpose of my meeting with the Education Minister.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman