20 May 2019
Press statement by MCA Vice President Datuk Tan Teik Cheng
Dr Maszlee must retract remarks – Gulf in society follows Education Minister tying Bumiputera employment in the private sector to Matriculation quotas
A chain reaction which ensued following Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik justifying the retention of Matriculation intake quotas on the misguided belief that job opportunities in the pricate sector are denied to Bumiputeras on the basis of language. This has led to further misunderstanding and polarisation between all ethic groups. It is only apt if Dr Maszlee publicly apologises, withdraws his remarks and resigns in order to calm the storm he has raised.
In his defence, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) vice-chancellor Datuk Dr Asma Ismail said the Education Minister should be praised because “education and job opportunities are connected to each other (New Straits Times Online, 19 May 2019).” She added that “his statement should be considered positively and sincerely context without firing up racial sentiment.”
We agree with Asma that education was an important mechanism for increasing the marketability of future talent. We reccognise that for most low-income Bumiputeras as with all communities, education provides a window of hope. It is important to ensure that economic distribution is fair and balanced. However, to rationalise keeping the quota system by linking it with employment opportunities for Bumiputeras is unwise.
The masses who voted for Pakatan Harapan during the GE14 were under the impression that Malaysia requires a higher education system that has just entry requirements. PH, especially DAP, appealed to the rakyat as they appeared to push for the removal of racial preferences. But despite being a member of the present government, all DAP can do is to speak from outside the government system, hoping that one day, PH will honour its promises and treat all ethnic groups fairly.
As the Minister of Education, Dr Maszlee is in a better position to comprehend the needs of the country and cultivate talents. To woo over non-Bumiputere ballots before the election, he used Chinese dialects as part of his publicity. People believed that he was an enlightened leader. However, after his appointment as the Minister of Education, he proposed unrealistic policies, and the ultimate task of raising education standards in Malaysia is nowhere near undertaken. Instead, his policies will put non-Bumiputera graduates at a disadvantage.
If Cabinet does not take Dr Maszlee’s remarks seriously, nor admonish them nor instruct him to retract his remarks, these issues will continue to be a thorn in the flesh, resulting with further misunderstandings and societal mistrust. In supporting Dr Maszlee, Prof Asma appears to not fully comprehend the situation.
Datuk Tan Teik Cheng
MCA Vice President