More appropriate that the no-confidence motion against Musa as Education Minister  should be fully debated in Parliament when it meets tomorrow

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Sunday)UMNO Vice President and Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said yesterday that the Senai UMNO division’s move in passing a vote of no confidence against Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad was “inappropriate” and that it should have been referred to the UMNO Supreme Council or the Johore State UMNO liaison committee to be discussed and resolved amicably.  

I do not think there is an UMNO tradition or convention barring its division from passing a vote of no confidence against any UMNO Minister, but I would agree that it would be more appropriate that the no confidence motion against Musa as Education Minister should be fully debated in Parliament when it meets tomorrow.  

The question is whether there is any UMNO or Barisan Nasional MP who would dare to move such a motion – as any motion by an Opposition MP would not be given time for debate.  

Alternatively, a government MP can move a motion to ask Parliament to express confidence in Musa Mohamad as Education Minister as Parliament would be remiss in its duty if there is no full debate on education in view of the avalanche of educational problems which have inundated the country.  

Malaysia is facing an educational crisis, and this is not just an UMNO or Malay problem, but a problem faced by all Malaysians and the entire nation is  confronted by the challenges of globalisation, liberalization and information and communications technology to determine our national competitiveness in the international global economy. 

It is unfortunate that some UMNO and UMNO Youth leaders are stoking the communal fires by turning the problem of the comparatively lower percentage of Malay students in private institutions of higher learning (IPTS) into a Malay problem, when it must be seen as a national problem -  of concern not only to the Malays but to all Malaysians regardless of race.

Similarly, problems like the  44,000 unemployed and unemployable graduates, most of whom are Malays and other bumiputras, because they took up courses not suitable for the job market and had a poor command of English and the poor  academic performance of bumiputra students, as illustrated by the 1999 data where  only 96 Malays obtained First Class degrees in University of Malaya compared to 259 non-bumiputra students while  in Universiti Teknology Malaysia, only seven Malays received First Class degrees compared to 95 non-bumiputra students must be regarded as Malaysian problems and not merely as Malay problems and must be addressed urgently by Parliament.

There are legitimate grounds for unhappiness with the performance of Musa Mohamad as the Education Minister, as he has created quite an educational mess in his 30 months as Education Minister, whether over the annual public university student intake, the introduction of a merit-based university admission system without merit, the mishandling of Damansara Chinese primary school and Vision School controversies, the crisis faced by Tamil primary schools, the chop-and-change in education policies (like the sudden introduction of the teaching of Science and Mathematics in Std. One next year followed by a equally sudden extension to all levels without any preparation whatsoever) and the total lack of consultation in the preparation of the 10-year Education Development Blueprint.  

Whether Parliament wants to express confidence or no-confidence in Musa as Education Minister, it is time that education takes the centre stage of Parliamentary attention because of its crucial importance to the well-being of Malaysians and the prosperity of the nation. 


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman