(Penang, Saturday): Political and racial temperatures are often
raised with the onset of UMNO and UMNO Youth national conferences, and next
week’s UMNO and UMNO Youth annual
general assemblies is no exception.
It is most unfortunate that the UMNO Youth
leader, Datuk Hishammudin Tun Hussein Onn is creating a political storm with his
demand for a 10 per cent quota for bumiputeras in private institutions of higher
learning (IPTS), when the problem is not because of any IPTS policy to discriminate against bumiputera students in
student intake, but because of the difficulty of attracting bumiputra students
– although some 40%
of the students in the private institutions of higher learning are bumiputras
and not just 10%or even 5% per cent as irresponsibly claimed by some UMNO and
UMNO Youth leaders.
I believe that all the private institutions of
higher learning would be very grateful to hammuddin and UMNO Youth if they can
work out a scheme to channel more
bumiputra students to them. As one
commentator has rightly pointed out, the problem about the low number of Malay
students in private institutions of higher learning is not because of any quota
At the end of his recent European tour, the
Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad expressed the hope that
Malaysian can emulate Luxembourg’s success as a small but rich country. He
said there was a lot Malaysia could learn from the tiny European country which
had developed from one that produced steel to one that is an important financial
centre in the continent.
One of the lessons Malaysia must learn if we are
to become like Luxembourg is that political leaders must set an example as
Malaysian leaders with sights on the global horizon and not mired in
their different racial compartments.
Higher education in Malaysia is one good example. Faced with the challenges of globalisation, liberalisation and information and communications technology (ICT), political leaders whether in government or opposition should be leading and guiding the nation to address the critical educational issues like raising the Malaysian enrolment in higher education (as a proportion of the number of people at the ages most relevant to higher education), ensuring world-class quality for our higher education system and the emphasis to produce a critical mass of scientific and technical manpower to power Malaysia into a hi-tech future rather than focusing on irrelevant but highly popular political issues like quotas.
the upcoming UMNO Youth meeting, Hishammuddin should demonstrate that UMNO Youth
can lift its sights to the international competitiveness challenges faced by
Malaysia in the era of globalization, liberalization and ICT and not mired in
the Malay versus non-Malay milieu
when what really matters is Malaysia vs the world.
cannot make a better start in this direction than in tendering an apology for the boorish and gangsterish UMNO
Youth demonstration against Suqiu in August 2000 for proposing that the
race-based quota university intake system be replaced with
a means-tested sliding scale.