(Petaling Jaya, Monday): The reason given by the Universiti Teknologi
Mara (UiTM) Vice Chancellor, Prof Datuk Dr. Ibrahim Abu Shah to reject the
proposal by the National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) President Tengku
Habsah Tengku Petera that educational institutions specially meant for
bumiputeras such as UiTM open their doors to all races sounds so illogical that
it does not reflect well on his expertise and professionalism. (Berita Harian
Tengku Habsah had said in Kuching on Saturday
that the national educational
system should move in line with changing times and economic development to
ensure that students, particularly bumiputeras, were able to compete.
Dr. Ibrahim said that UiTM students are not only
“competitive” in the university but could successfully compete when they go
overseas for further studies.
If Dr. Ibrahim claims that UiTM students are
fully competitive, whether locally or overseas, this should be the strongest
reason for opening the doors of UiTM to all races, rather than the reverse, as
affirmative actions are meant to be temporary and not permanent features of the
national education system.
The only reason for keeping UiTM closed to all
races is that 46 years after its establishment,
bumiputra students are still not ready for the competition which they
would have to face when the university is opened up to all races.
However, as Dr. Ibrahim has claimed that the
UiTM students are fully competitive, both locally and overseas, and as UMNO
leaders have publicly expressed their satisfaction that bumiputra students could
now compete with non-bumiputra students as shown in the results of the
recent public university intake
based on a merit-based selection system and not on a quota system, what other
tenable reason could there be for continuing to keep UiTM closed to all
Malaysian students regardless of race?
The concern that the opening up of UiTM to all
races could lead to a dimunition of higher education opportunities for bumiputra
students could be met by expanding UiTM places so that the intake of
non-bumiputra students, say starting with 10 to 20 per cent, would not be at the
expense of the annual total intake of bumiputra students.
Such opening up of UiTM can only be to the good
of the country as the sooner Malaysians realize that the country must compete
with the rest of the world, rather than bumiputras competing with
non-bumiputras, which will decide our ability to face up to the challenges of
globalisation, liberalization and information and communications technology and
our national prosperity.
For this reason, the Cabinet and Parliament
should give serious consideration to the NUTP proposal that educational
institutions specially meant for
bumiputras such as UiTM open their doors to all races.