Cabinet tomorrow should publicly apologise to Parliament for presenting dishonest and selective statistics in the Third Outline Perspective Plan with regard to bumiputra and non-bumiputra students in tertiary education

Media Conference Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Tuesday): It has been said that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics, and this has been borne out by the current national outcry about the lack of fair admissions policy to universities and other institutions of higher learning in the country.

The Cabinet tomorrow should publicly apologise to Parliament for presenting dishonest and selective statistics in the Third Outline Perspective Plan (OPP3)  2,001-2,010 with regard to bumiputra and non-bumiputra students in tertiary education.

The OPP3 produced only one table on the bumiputra/non-bumiputra breakdown of enrolment in private institutions of higher learning in 1999.  This is a most dishonest and selective presentation of statistics as the government failed to provide statistics in the OPP3 on the bumiputra/non-bumiputra breakdown of enrolment in public institutions of higher learning for the same year, in order to give a full and complete picture of  the subject.

What is even more shocking is that the statistics on enrolment in private institutions of higher learning in 1999 is not a true, complete or correct one, as it did not present the full enrolment and bumiputra/non-bumiputra breakdown in private tertiary education in the country.

The following data is given by Table 4-7 of OPP3 (p.107)  on “Enrolment in Private Institutions of Higher Learning, 1999”

Level of
Education  Bumiputra     %     Non -Bumiputra    %     Total      %

Degree     6, 345      20.5       24,595       79.5   30,940     100
Diploma    44,795      40.5       65,933       59.5   110,728    100
Total      51,140      36.1       90,528       63.9   141,668    100

This is a most dishonest table, departing from all government practices in the past three decades,   whether in the Three Outline Perspective Plans, Seven Five-Year Malaysia Plans or Seven Five-Year Malaysia Plan Mid-Term Reviews, where data on enrolment in tertiary education comprises three categories, namely those enrolled at the first degree, diploma and certificate levels.

Thus, Para 4.50 of  the  Eighth Malaysia Plan said “Enrolment at the tertiary level increased from 147,927 in 1995 to 321,729 in 2000” while Para 4.113 said  “Total enrolment at the tertiary level in public institutions is expected to increase from 321,729 in 2,000 to 526,679 in 2005.”

These figures on tertiary education are derived from the following:

Level of
Education      1995      2000      2005

Certificate   13,556     28,154    88,848
Diploma       46,480     92,304    148,025
Degree        87,891     201,271   289,806
Total Tertiary
    Education 147,927    321,729   526,679

(Eighth Malaysia Plan Table 4-5)

Why had the government omitted for the first time the tertiary education students at the certificate level in Table 4-7 of OPP3 on “Enrolment in Private Institutions of Higher Learning, 1999”?  The reason seems very straightforward, to avoid giving the impression of a high percentage of bumiputra students in the private institutions of higher learning.

This omission, however, is inadvertently  overcome in the Second National Economic Consultative Council (NECC) Report, which gave the following data in Schedule 2.32(a) (p 120):

Enrolment according to race in  private  institutions (IPTS) as at 31st December  1999

Enrolment     Bumiputra     Non-Bumiputra     Total

Degree          6,017           24,920        30,937
                19.4%           80.6%         100%
Diploma         44,815          65,914        110,729
                40.5%           59.5%         100%
Certificate     30,211          27,736        57,947
                52.1%           47.9%         100%
Total           81,043          118,570       199,613
                40.6%           59.4%         100%

We can ignore the minor differences for the degree and diploma statistics, but the omission of the category of students at the certificate level for  tertiary education is quite obvious.

Is the omission of the 30,211 bumiputra students or 52.1% of the 57,947 students in this category to give the wrong  impression that bumiputra students constituted only 36.1 per cent when it should be 40.6%?

Is this the reason why the Second NECC Report was not tabled in the Dewan Rakyat until virtually the last day of the two-month meeting, when MPs did not even have the time to go through the 800-page report?

Secondly, the Cabinet tomorrow should also apologise for deviating from the 55:45 university quota for bumiputra and non-bumiputra students for over two decades as illustrated by the following statistics for first-degree enrolment in the local public universities:

First Degree Enrolment in Local Universities

              Bumiputra         Non-Bumiputra         Total

1970          3.084               4,593               7,677
              (40.2%)             (59.8%)             (100%)
1980          13,610              8,334               21,944
              (62%)               (38%)               (100%)
1985          23,841              13,997              37,838
              (63%)               (37%)               (100%)
1988          30,085              19,705              49,790
              (60.4%)             (39.6%)             (100%)
1990          35,361              18,309              53,670
              (65.9%)             (34.1%)             (100%)
1999          97,836              42,084              139,920
              (69.9%)             (30.1%)             (100%)

(Source: NECC I & NECC II Reports)

The announcement by the  MCA Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Hon Choon Kim yesterday that all SPM top scorers with 10A1s and above are admitted to the universities is no news, as  this had already been announced by the Education Ministry Higher Education Department director Prof Dr. Hassan Said two weeks ago that SPM students with a minimum of 10 As were all offered university places.

It is most regrettable that no progress had been made in the past two weeks to open up the gates of university entry to allow all SPM and STPM top-scorers places in the local universities.

The four MCA Ministers must make sure that after more than two decades of neglect and failure to ensure that the 55:45 university quota is strictly complied with, full justice is done to the young generation of Malaysians beginning this year.

Hon Choon Kim had said last month that the government would not compromise on the quality of education offered at private universities.  However, the government has been compromising with the quality of education in the public universities by rejecting the best and brightest of each generation from entering the local universities to make them top-quality institutions of  higher learning comparable with the best in the world.

I call on the four MCA Ministers to convince the Cabinet tomorrow to adopt a bold and fair universities admission policy beginning this year which comprises the following four points:

The Barisan Alternative Leaders’ Council which met in Kuala Lumpur last week agreed that unfilled university places from bumiputra quotas should be released to eligible Chinese and Indian students.  The Cabinet tomorrow should accept this as a guiding principle for all admissions in local public universities.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman