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The Barisan Aalternatif (BA) Education Bureau had its regular meeting a couple of days ago. Among other things we discussed the issue of meritocracy for entrance into the university. We wish to make the following observations:

First. The BA has consistently held that merit should be given due consideration, irrespective of ethnic background. We wish to emphasise again that all students who achieve excellent results should be admitted to the institutions of higher learning.

Second. Merit must be taken together, at tandem, with the other equally important criterion, namely need, which refers to the economic, social and educational backgrounds of the students. Generally, students who come from poor families in backward areas where the educational facilities available are not up to the mark are handicapped when forced to compete with their counterparts from wealthy families in developed areas.

Third. If merit is the only criterion used for university admission, then many students from poor families in backward areas, including Malay, Chinese, Indian, Iban, Kadazan etc. will not be able to continue their studies to higher levels. Further, the socio-economic gap between the rich and the poor will be increased.

Fourth. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad appears to emphasise only on merit, without giving due consideration to need. It has been indicated that selective meritocracy will be applied to only Malays. If this happens, poor Malay students from rural areas attending ill-equipped schools will be discriminated against. The factor of need must be emphasised and meritocracy should apply to all ethnic groups and not selectively for Malays only.

Fifth. Dr Mahathir seems to be pushing for meritocracy as a revenge against Malay students, whom he alleges as neglecting studies to concentrate on anti-government political activities. Granted that there are such students (and we know that their number is small), is it fair for the PM to punish future students for what the present students are alleged to be doing? Further, is it fair for the PM to bamboozle his wish and by doing so take away the function of the university to decide on student intake and at the same time undermine university autonomy?

Sixth. Dr Mahathir is actually trying to use the meritocracy issue politically to gain greater support from non-Malays. At the same time he is also trying to provoke the Malays so that they will oppose genuine meritocracy to retain the old quota system, which obviously has been abused. We must not forget that not long before this, Dr Mahathir was proclaiming the importance of Malay unity in order to defend Malay special position. Obviously the PM is not at all sincere with what he does.

Dr Syed Husin Ali
Chairman, BA Education Bureau
President PRM

9th August 2001

Ke atas    Balik Menu Utama    Tarikh artikal diterbitkan : 11 Ogos 2001

Diterbitkan oleh : Lajnah Penerangan dan Dakwah DPP Kawasan Dungun, Terengganu
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