(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): There seems to be a new Cabinet
practice, where Cabinet decisions are given different explanations and
rationales by Cabinet Ministers.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr.
Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that the Cabinet decision to allocate 10% of
matriculation places for non-bumiputra students from next year is intended to
help Malay students integrate with other races.
He said experience had shown that Malay
students who did not integrate with other races might face difficulties
interacting, pointing out that some matriculation students, especially those
from the Mara colleges, did not know students of other races at all.
Mahathir stressed however that the
Cabinet decision does not mean that more places would be available to non-bumiputras
in public universities, as candidates would still have to compete for entry
based on merit.
The MCA Minister for Human Resources,
Datuk Dr. Fong Chan Onn, has however given a different rationale for the Cabinet
decision to allocate 10% of matriculation places for non-bumiputra students in
his interview with Sin Chew Jit Poh.
He said the opening up of 10% of
matriculation places is only a “beginning” and that if there is a good
response to this Cabinet decision, the government will continue to open up more
matriculation places for non-bumiputras.
There can be no doubt that there would
be good response to the opening up of 10% matriculation places to non-bumiputra
students, as every qualified matriculation student not only shortens the two-year
pre-university route through the STPM to one year, but receives full fee and
lodging sponsorship and about RM2,000 a year from the Education Ministry.
Many questions crop up from the different explanations given by Mahathir and Fong on the Cabinet decision to allocate 10% of matriculation places to non-bumiputra students from next year, such as:
As Fong was a former university academician and Deputy Education Minister, he should present a Cabinet paper to propose the reform of pre-university admissions with a race-blind needs-based merit system with 75% places based on merit and 25% allotted to cater to the socio-economically backward students to people our institutions of higher learning – based on a common university entrance examination.