He came out with the completely new argument 22 years after the quota of 55:45 for bumiputra and non-bumiputra university intake was fixed on 28th June 1979 that it should not be viewed strictly in relation to students admitted to the local universities but should encompass those studying in private universities and colleges here and overseas as well.
He said: “The majority of students in private colleges are non-bumiputras, so we need this quota in public universities to balance their numbers with those of bumiputra students.”
He said that even with the quota the actual number of bumiputra students at tertiary level was still much lower compared to non-bumiputra students.
He announced that UMNO would carry out a survey to find out the actual number of bumiputra and non-bumiputra students at tertiary level, which will include students in private universities, colleges and those who are currently studying overseas.
In the first place, why should UMNO be making any such survey when the
Education Ministry has in its possession all such data.
I call on the Education Ministry to make public the data on bumiputra and non-bumiputra students studying in local public universities as well in institutions of higher learning locally and abroad, as these are all in the possession of the Ministry, and there is no reason why these information should not be made public as a matter of course especially in this information era.
In fact, such data on the ethnic breakdown of students in institutions
of higher learning both locally and overseas were given in development
reports in the eighties, as evidenced by the First National Consultative
Council Report 1991 which gave the following information culled from the
Fourth Malaysia Plan (1981-1985), the Fifth Malaysia Plan (1986-1990)
and the Fifth Malaysia Plan Mid-Term Review (1986-1990):
Malaysia: Bilangan Pelajar di Peringkat Ijazah 1980 - 1988However, in the nineties, the Barisan Nasional government turned its back to transparency and became very opaque, refusing to release data and statistics which it had been making public in the seventies and eighties.
Bumiputra Cina India Kaum Jumlah
1980 18,804 18,381 3,928 341 41,454
% 45.4 44.3 9.5 0.8 100
DN 13,610 6,848 1,252 234 21,944
% 62.0 31.2 5.7 1.1 100
LN 5,194 11,533 2,676 107 19,510
% 26.6 59.1 13.7 0.5 100
1985 29,875 24,647 5,581 419 60,522
% 49.4 40.7 9.2 0.7 100
DN 23,841 11,241 2,473 283 37,838
% 63 29.7 6.5 0.7 100
LN 6,034 13,406 3,108 136 22,684
% 26.6 59.1 13.7 0.6 100
1988 44,616 37,602 9,280 673 92,171
% 48.4 40.8 10.1 0.7 100
DN 30,085 15,869 3,587 249 49,790
% 60.4 31.9 7.2 0.5 100
LN 14,531 21,733 5,693 424 42,381
% 34.3 51.3 13.4 1.0 100
DN - Dalam Negeri; LN - Luar Negeri
(Source: MAPEN I, pg 80)
Mahathir’s announcement that UMNO would carry out a survey to find out the actual number of bumiputra and non-bumiputra students at tertiary level, which will include students in private universities, colleges and those who are currently studying overseas, and his statement after the UMNO Supreme Council meeting, raised many questions with far-reaching implications.
Firstly, why is UMNO carrying out such a survey when the Education Ministry has all the statistics? From the statistics available for 1980, 1985 and 1988, non-bumiputra students were less than bumiputra students as far as figures for the local public universities were concerned, but when students studying overseas were totalled together, non-bumiputra students exceeded bumiputra students in global terms.
UMNO should explain whether in conducting such a survey, there any suggestion that the global figures of bumiputra and non-bumiputra students in universities, whether in local public institutions, local private institutions or abroad should be checked, controlled and regulated to comply with some global quota?
If so, this would be putting the clock back and go against the fundamental push of the K-economy to ensure the highest participation rate for the population in tertiary education so as to create a critical mass of trained, skilled and knowledge manpower in line with technological advancements.
As the Second National Economic Consultative (MAPEN2) Report had admitted,
the enrolment in tertiary education in Malaysia “is still low”. It
quoted statistics to say that in 1999, only 21.4 per cent of the
youths in the 17-23 age cohort continued education to the higher
level - although this was slightly higher than the rate of 16.98
per cent for 1997. The MAPEN 2 Report conceded however that this
rate was still very low when compared to the enrolment rate
which was as high as 45 per cent for Ireland and 35 per cent for the United
Kingdom. (Para 7.2.52 p. 439).
UMNO should be forewarned that any attempt to set global university quota figures for bumiputra and non-bumiputra students would be a major setback for nation-building, K-economy and all IT plans
Thirty years after the National Economic Policy and National Development Policy, the time has come for a rational national discussion and debate on the university quota system to consider as to whether the twin objectives of equity in the affirmative programme and quality in the higher-education system have been achieved, or whether one had been achieved at the expense of another, or worse still, both objectives had not been fulfilled.
If Malaysians, with the launching of the National Vision Policy and less than 20 years to the Vision 2020 objective of creating a Bangsa Malaysia, are unable to conduct a rational national debate on the quota system, minus race-baiting, kris-rattling and communal outbursts, then Malaysia is clearly not headed towards Vision 2020, Bangsa Malaysia or any IT future.