(Petaling Jaya, Monday): MIC
president and Works Minister, Datuk
Seri S. Samy Vellu said yesterday that his worst fears about meritocracy, which he had opposed
in Cabinet, had come true with the drastic drop in the number of Indian students admitted into public institutions
of higher learning this year.
He described the decrease of nearly three per cent to 4.7 per cent this year as very serious, and said he would raise the matter in Cabinet on Wednesday as the situation demanded urgent action.
usual, it is only Samy Vellu who is concerned by the sharp drop in the intake of
Indian students into the public universities, but MCA, Gerakan and SUPP
Ministers who claim to represent the interests of the Chinese seem very
contented and and totally unperturbed by
the university intakes this year, with the MCA Deputy Education Minister, Datuk
Hon Choon Kim even defending the new “merit-based” university entry
selection system which saw Chinese
and Indian student intake falling sharply from the previous quota of 35% to 10% respectively to 26.4%
to 4.7% respectively.
would be another shame to the MCA, SUPP and Gerakan Ministers if Samy Vellu has
to take up in Cabinet the concerns
of the Chinese community over the sharp drop of the Chinese students in the
public university intake, as has happened in so many other controversies, most
notably the Kuala Lumpur Kwantung Cemetry relocation controversy.
Vellu said his opposition to meritocracy when it was first raised in Cabinet had
been justified with the release of entry figures into public institutions on
He said many Indian students could not enter private universities or colleges due to the prohibitive cost involved which was around five times the cost of study in public institutions.
Samy Vellu said his immediate reaction to the release of entry figures was
that he did not agree to
meritocracy when it came up in Cabinet at the beginning and that he had
sought entry of Indians students into matriculation courses but this was
is Samy Vellu right in wanting to reinstate the 55:35:10 quota for bumiputra,
Chinese and Indians student intake into the public universities?
Is he right that without a 10% quota reserved for Indians, the Indian
students are the sure losers as they cannot compete on an equal footing with
others “due to historical reasons” and
there is no way for Indian students
to reach this figure on the basis of merit?
Samy Vellu is right that the Indian community has become the most marginalized
and new underclass three decades after the New Economic Policy and the National
Development Policy which requires a special government masterplan to uplift the
socio-economic and educational backwardness of the community,
I am not so pessimistic as Samy Vellu about the academic potentials of
the Indian students and would urge Samy Vellu that before MIC sounds the call
for the reinstatement of the 55:35:10 quota for student intake into public
universities, to examine whether more Indian students should
have been selected into the public universities to reach the 10 per cent
mark under a proper, impartial and professional merit-based selection system.
answering press questions about the “skepticism” over the university intake
figures released by the Education Ministry on Friday after the UMNO
Supreme Counciol meeting the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
said those not satisfied could inspect Ministry records.
He said there had been no manipulation and that the reason behind the
increase is that non-bumiputeras are not interested to take STPM.
Director of Higher Education Department, Professor Hassan Said had failed to
learn any lesson of public accountability and transparency from the public
uproar over the release of public
university intake results last year to immediately answer the many questions
about the merit-based university entry selection system, in particular the
special formula used to match the matriculation results and the STPM grades to
put them under one main list in order of merit to ensure that it is not
comparing an apple with an orange.
Prof Hassan told
yesterday’s The Star that there was no reason to doubt the new selection
system as a detailed study by “experts” had been conducted before the
selection criteria was set.
But it is
Hassan who is creating the conditions for the people to doubt the
new selection system by refusing to
be fully frank and forthcoming to explain the details of the new selection
system, and in particular the special formula used to match the matriculation
results and the STPM grades, and to allow the “experts” who devised the formula to be subject to public, professional and
In claiming that the
formula and calculation to match the two systems is “very technical and highly
academic” which the “the layman will not understand”, Hassan is creating
and intensifying doubts and skepticism about the merits of the “merit-based”
I am suggesting to Samy Vellu that before MIC sounds the call for the retrogressive retention of the 55:45:10 quota for student intake into the public universities, he should ask the Cabinet on Wednesday to direct an immediate and public review of the merit-based university entry selection system in particular on two aspects:
The figures of
1,007 Indian students and 1,868 Chinese students who met the requirements
under the merit-based system but were not offered places were given by the
Education Ministry last Thursday and published in the
Sin Chew Jit Poh, as follows:
qualify under the merit-system but not offered places
Race Science Arts Total
Bumiputra 4,200 (74.5%) 7,732(84.3%) 11,932 (80.6%)
Chinese 996(17.7%) 872( 9.5%) 1,868(12.6%)
Indian 438( 7.8%) 569( 6.2%) 1,007( 6.8%)
The public university
intake this year totals 32,752, comprising 22,557 bumiputras (68.9%), 8,665
Chinese (26.4%) and 1,530 Indians (4.7%). If the
1,007 Indian students who had met the requirements of the merit-based
selection system had been offered
places, the percentage of Indian students in the university intake this year
would have shot up to 7.7%, which is comparable to last year’s percentage
although still falls short of 10%.
Similarly, if the 1,868
Chinese students had been offered places, the percentage of Chinese students in
the public university intake would have reached
32.6% - just short of 35%.
There is another set of
figures which should be studied in the review. A total of 64,324 students
submitted their applications this year, comprising
46,878 bumiputras, 13,485 Chinese and 3,961 Indians.
This would mean that 12,389 bumiputra, 2952 Chinese and 1,424 Indian students had been rejected for not
meeting the requirements of the merit-based system.
This calls for an
explanation by the Education Ministry, as I would have thought that all those
who had made their applications would have met the minimum conditions for
university admission. This set of
applications are relevant because they would have raised further the percentage
of Chinese and Indian students in the public university intake this year.
The Cabinet on
Wednesday should show that it has the sensitivity
to respond to public frustrations
and outrage at the utter opaqueness of the merit-based selection system, which
is a disservice to bumiputra students who had gained university admission by
It will be another blot
in Malaysia’s national education system and history if the Cabinet is not
prepared direct Hassan to fully restore
public confidence in the impartiality, integrity and professionalism of the
merit-based selection system and dispel all notions that Malaysia has created
another new-fangled monster of a “merit-based selection system without
DAP National Vice
Chairman and MP for Kepong, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, is seeking to arrange a meeting
with Hassan for DAP leaders to find out details about the merit-based
selection system, the special formula used to match STPM and matriculation grades, the cut-off
points for admission to the various university courses and a host of other
pertinent issues. I do not know
whether Hassan is prepared or ready to meet the DAP leaders but this will be a
test as to whether the merit-based selection system is honest,
impartial, professional and can bear public scrutiny or whether the
government has a lot of things to hide about the system.