Musa’s serious lapse of Ministerial responsibility in not ensuring full explanation of the  merit-based selection system six days after the announcement of university intake results   

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Tuesday)The Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad should practice what he preaches and set an example of not turning the controversy over the merit-based university selection system into a racial issue, by alleging that those who question the formula used to match the matriculation results and the STPM grades are trying to create a racial issue.  

Musa’s statement reminds me of the  early eighties, when I was accused by a top UMNO Cabinet Minister of wanting to create a racial issue because I was pressing for greater accountability and transparency in the  first mega-financial scandal in Malaysia, the RM2.5 billion Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal.  

Musa should realize that in a multi-racial country like Malaysia, there must not only be studious attempts to avoid raising racial issues, Cabinet Ministers should not create racial issues by equating  demands for democratic  accountability and transparency with “racial” pressures.

Musa said it  was “certainly a bad and wrong attitude for people to harbour suspicions against the system and the government … without checking the facts first” and that they should approach the ministry for clarification if they are unhappy with the matter.

One wonders whether Musa really knows what he is talking about or his head is just among the clouds.  How can anyone reach the Education Ministry for clarification about the merit-based university selection system, especailly on the formula used to match two completely different examination systems, the matriculation results and the STPM grades, when access  to the Higher Education Department director, Prof. Dr. Hassan Said was virtually impossible in the past six days. 

When the DAP National Vice Chairman and Member of Parliament for Kepong, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw could not even reach Hassan after trying the whole day yesterday to reach him by phone, how could any member of the public get clarification or “checks the facts first” with the Education Ministry?

It will not  be fair just to blame Hassan for the national uproar over the merit-based selection system, although he must be reprimanded for at times forgetting that he is a public servant and his condescending attitude towards  university students,  parents, lecturers and the Malaysian  public who want answers to many queries 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.  

In claiming that the special formula to match the results of  two completely different examination systems is “very technical”,  “highly academic” and cannot be understood by the “layman”, Hassan only intensified  public doubts about the merit and integrity of the merit-based selection system.

It is Musa however  as Education Minister  who must bear full responsibility for the furore over the merit-based selection system because of the complete absence of information or  explanation about the system six days after the announcement of university intake results.  

Yesterday, Musa announced that Hassan will come out with a statement on the meritocracy system and how the matriculation results and STPM grades were matched but he could not say when it would be made.  

Musa had committed a serious lapse of  Ministerial responsibility in not ensuring  that such a full explanation on the merit-based selection system, and in particular how the results of  two completely  different examination systems were matched, were  made at the very same time the university intake results were announced last Thursday.  

Can Musa explain why he had not foreseen the necessity for such an explanation to be made at the same time as the release of the university intake results, in keeping with the principles of accountability and transparency.  

Secondly, can Musa explain why for six days, the Education Ministry could not come out straightaway with a full explanation of its merit-based selection system  when there was a nation-wide furore immediately after the release of the university intake results – and how many more days  Hassan will need to work  on the explanation?   

Malaysians cannot understand why it is necessary for Hassan to work on the explanation on the formula to match the two examination systems and other aspects of the merit-based selection system  - when what the people want are the whole truth and nothing but the truth and not a varnish of the truth or  a P.R. exercise.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman