(Penang, Thursday): Yesterday’s Utusan Malaysia carried the front
page headline: “Isu kuota IPTS: Hishammuddin bertemu Liong Sik hari ini”
with the report:
”KUALA LUMPUR 11 Jun - Ketua Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO, Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein akan bertemu Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik esok bagi menyelesaikan isu kuota 10 peratus pelajar Melayu ke institusi pengajian tinggi swasta (IPTS).
berkata, beliau juga akan meminta Presiden MCA menjelaskan kenapa pelajar Melayu
amat kurang diambil dalam pengambilan pertama Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman
“’Kita mahu menunjukkan sensitiviti dan perasaan orang Melayu dalam perkara ini (soal pendidikan) bahawa kaum lain perlu memahaminya,’ tegasnya.
menegaskan demikian kepada pemberita di pejabatnya di sini hari ini sebagai
mengulas permintaan Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yang mahu beliau bersemuka
dengan Liong Sik bagi membincangkan isu kuota tersebut.
Menteri berkata, pertemuan itu perlu bagi mengelakkan kumpulan lain mengambil
kesempatan daripada perselisihan pandangan antara kedua-dua pemimpin itu.
“Semalam, Liong Sik
berkata, beliau sedia bersemuka dengan Hishammuddin secepat mungkin bagi
menyelesaikan masalah yang timbul.”
Utusan Malaysia quoted Hishammuddin as saying
that the meeting with Liong Sik yesterday would be held “before, during or
after” the Cabinet meeting at Putrajaya yesterday.
The Liong Sik-Hishammuddin meeting never
materialized “before, during or after” the Cabinet meeting yesterday, for
Liong Sik had flown off to Luxembourg in a last-minute decision to join the
Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, skipping the important Cabinet
meeting which would have been the “last” opportunity to rectify the double
wrongs in the 2002-3003 university intake using a merit-based system whose
meritocracy cannot withstand public scrutiny as well as illegally excluding tens
of thousands of diploma holders from university admission.
Did Liong Sik suddenly fly off to leave the
country just to avoid a meeting with the UMNO Youth over their “spat”
although the MCA President had told reporters
after launching the new road tax discs at the Federal Territory Road
Tranport Department on Monday that “he wanted to ‘de-escalate’
the spat between him and Hishammudin and was eager to meet the latter as
soon as possible on the matter”? (New Straits Times 11.6.2002)
This can be the only
conclusion as nobody knew, not even his Ministerial colleagues in the Cabinet,
that Liong Sik was going to join Mahathir for the Luxembourg tour.
It is indeed sad that the
power equation and relationships in the Barisan Nasional has totally changed
character, from the supposedly primus inter pares (first
among equals) position for UMNO in the coalition to an unchallenged primus tanpa
pares (first with no equals) – and now, the MCA President even losing out in a
spat with the UMNO Youth leader to the extent that he had to
“abscond” overseas to avoid a meeting and to seek the intervention and help
of the UMNO President to save “face”.
If Liong Sik believes
that the UMNO Youth leader was wrong, then he must have the courage of
conviction to stand his ground to put Hishammuddin in his place; but if Liong
Sik now realizes that he was himself in the wrong, then he must have the humility to admit his mistake.
Why should he fly all the way to
Luxembourg just to avoid a meeting with Hishammuddin at the Cabinet meeting in
An explanation from Liong
Sik will be in order.