(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): I had last night sent an urgent email to all
Cabinet Ministers urging them to do their duty at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow
to rectify the double wrongs of the unfair and unprofessional merit-based
university selection system adopted by the Higher Education Department this
Unless the Cabinet provides bold and visionary
leadership to send out a clear message that the government is serious about a
meritocracy system which is fair, transparent and capable of withstanding the
most rigorous national and international scrutiny, then all talk of Malaysia
wanting to take the quantum leap to build a world-class education system and
transform the country into a regional education hub and a centre for academic
excellence will remain empty and meaningless words.
My urgent email to the Cabinet Ministers last
“YAB Prime Minister,
YAB Deputy Prime Minister,
“I am sending this urgent email to urge
Ministers at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, 22nd May 2002 to do
their duty to rectify the double wrongs of the unfair and unprofessional
merit-based university selection system adopted by the Higher Education
Department for the 2002/2003 intake into the public universities.
“It is most regrettable that the Cabinet had been rather
remiss in its public duty last Wednesday when it failed to seriously address the
double wrongs of the meritocracy system introduced this year.
“What shocked Malaysians was that the Cabinet
could, according to the Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad after the
Cabinet meeting, be ‘pleased’ with the outcome of the merit system and
disregarded the double wrongs of the merit-based system, viz:
“The Cabinet meeting on Wednesday is the last
opportunity for the 31,573 students who have minimum university entry
qualifications to be given another opportunity to enter the public universities
this year, and the Cabinet should expand the doors of the public universities to
accommodate their entry as the first concrete step of the government to
recognize the right of every Malaysian to tertiary education and to prepare the
country for a K-economy and knowledge-based society.
“As the chances for the 31,573 university
‘rejects’ to be given places in the public universities would be
virtually nil after the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Ministers should take the
policy decision to give them
the second chance to enter public universities.
“The Cabinet should also rectify the gross
injustice of the arbitrary and summary rejection of the applications from
“Musa is wrong when he said that getting a
diploma was not the normal way for a student to continue his or her studies for
a degree at the university. As recently as February this year announcing that
except for Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, all universities will stop offering
post Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia first degree courses and that students must depend
on the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia examination or its equivalent for
first-degree courses, Musa confirmed that this move would not affect the
matriculation and diploma courses. (New
Straits Times 7th February 2002).
“If diploma holders are not to be considered
for university intake under the merit-based system, then adequate notice should
be given and the new rule should not affect students who have joined diploma
courses in the expectation that they could proceed to first-degree courses, as
it is most unfair for goal posts to be moved midway in any area of human
‘The Cabinet on Wednesday should also take the
policy decision to ensure that the meritocracy system adopted for university
selection is transparent and professional - a race-blind system founded on a
level academic playing field based purely on examination results to ensure
academic excellence and ameliorated by socio-economic considerations to take
account of the more disadvantaged groups to ensure social justice.
“On Sunday, the Prime Minister told the MIC
General Assembly that the merit system for admission to local public
universities was likely to be retained next year even though it had been
questioned by some quarters within the government.
“He said the government could not risk losing
credibility if it scrapped the system just because it resulted in more bumiputra
students being qualified and admitted to the universities.
“I agree with the Prime Minister that the
government’s credibility will suffer grievously if it should chop and change,
switching from quota to meritocracy and reverting to quota the following year.
However, it must also be acknowledged that the credibility of the
government and the nation would be seriously impaired if the government is not
prepared to urgently rectify the faults and weaknesses of the meritocracy system
adopted this year so that Malaysia would not gain national and international
disrepute as having a merit-based university selection system without merit.
“It is hoped that the Cabinet would be as
concerned as Malaysians in our international reputation as an educational centre
of academic excellence with a meritocracy system of unquestioned credibility and
integrity, the nation’s economic competitiveness in the era of globalisation
and information technology as well as the challenge of Vision 2020 to create a
united, resilient and purposeful Bangsa Malaysia by addressing these two
problems of the meritocracy system at Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting.
“For Merit Coupled with Needs.
Lim Kit Siang
Democratic Action Party.
20th May 2002”