Well Said!  

Posted by Kamelia

Not ready for change

There have been conflicting reactions to the Selangor mentri besar’s proposal for UiTM to open its doors to non-bumiputras and foreigners.

SELANGOR Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim’s proposal on Aug 9 that 10% of Universiti Teknologi Mara’s (UiTM) enrolment be made up of non-bumiputra and international students has been vehemently rejected by UiTM’s establishment.
Its students organised a mass demonstration on Aug 12 in Shah Alam in protest while vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Abu Shah said that Khalid’s proposal went against the original purpose of setting up UiTM, which was to help the bumiputras.

The government has also made its stand clear with Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin reiterating that there would be no change in UiTM’s enrolment policy.

Benefits of integration

Viewed objectively, isn’t Khalid’s proposal to open up UiTM and the reasons given — to prepare its students for competition and globalisation — valid?

It has been pointed out that UiTM has been enrolling foreign students for years. Why not Malaysians?

In its website UiTM says that it aspires to be world-class in all its endeavours and have a vibrant and inclusive learning environment. How valid is that claim in light of the university’s present enrolment policy?

Universiti Malaya economics lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Terence Gomez says that other Malaysian public universities benefit from the interaction and dialogue that occur between students from different communities.

“In a university setting, students are required to read extensively, debate ideas and engage in intellectual discourse.

“Different perspectives evolve from these discussions and this is something that UiTM students, with their mono-ethnic background, don’t get.”

Dr Gomez adds that students in other public universities experience an understanding of Malaysian society and its different viewpoints.

“There is a need for debate on policies along universal or targeted lines. You won’t get truly in-depth discussions with one ethnic group.

“The perspectives will be intra-ethnic and not inter-ethnic and this diminishes the quality of the interaction at UiTM which is so important in a university setting.”


Political analyst Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Agus Yusoff from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia says the reaction to Khalid’s proposal shows a lack of maturity among Malaysians.

“There was no need for everyone to become hysterical. The issue has been blown out of proportion by the media. It was merely a suggestion by Khalid.”

Dr Mohd Agus adds that UiTM students should not have demonstrated publicly against the proposal.

“Their action will create uneasiness among the non-bumiputras. This is not the way to build good ethnic relations.”

He says that the federal government, through its actions, had played into Pakatan Rakyat’s hands.

“Non-bumiputras will be even angrier with Barisan Nasional. This will affect the government in the Permatang Pauh by-election,’’ says Dr Mohd Agus, adding that Umno made a mistake in fanning the students’ protest.

The UiTM issue reveals a clear split in the government as Gerakan and MCA politicians have come out with statements in support of Khalid’s proposal.

MCA vice-president Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn pointed out that the Cabinet had been receptive to opening similar institutions, like the Mara Junior Science and Matriculation colleges, to non-bumiputra students.

Transport Minister Datuk Ong Tee Keat said: “Nobody has denied that (UiTM was built under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution), but when people raise such a proposal or suggestion, is it necessary to pick a quarrel with them?”

And Gerakan treasurer Datuk Ng Chiang Chin commended Khalid “for having the wisdom to be open-minded and thinking like a Malaysian.”

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2008 . You can leave a response and follow any responses to this entry through the Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom) .


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