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SCMP: Kelamkabut Isu Kuota IPT
By Ian Stewart
13/5/2001 7:18 am Sun
[Minggu lepas kementerian pendidikkan menjadi sasaran kritikan
berikutan lapuran perangkaan yang menunjukkan 7,000 tempat kosong
yang dikhaskan untuk bumiputra dalam IPT tidak terisi sedangkan ramai
pelajar Cina yang yang berprestasi tinggi tidak dapat memasukki IPT.
Memang ribut akhbar Cina mengenengahkan isu ini. Tetapi tiba-tiba
pada hari Selasa baru-baru ini menteri pendidikkan, Musa Muhammad
mengatakan kuota bumiputra itu sememangnya sentiasa dipenuhi pula.
Lapuran terdahulu yang tersiar itu dikatakan tidak lengkap.
Tetapi yang menariknya PM telah memberi komen sebelum lapuran terbaru
itu - seolah-olah kekosongan itu memang benar berlaku.
Akhbar-akhbar Cina menyerang hebat kementerian pendidikkan (atau
menterinya?) kerana mengharu-birukan keadaan. Satu kolumnis di Star
yang pro MCA menyifatkan cara kontroversi itu ditangani amat bercelaru
sekali dan mahu sistem pendidikkan dirombak semula. Sin Che Jit Poh
pula mengatakan tidak masuk aqal bagaimana kementerian telah
'melahirkan' pelajar bumiputra untuk mengisi kuota itu. Akhbar itu
menyifatkan kementerian telah memperbodohkan rakyat Malaysia dan PM
sendiri. China Press pula mengatakan kementerian telah gagal memberikan
alasan yang menyakinkan serta boleh diterima bagaimana pelajar Cina
yang cemerlang gagal memasukki universiti. Ia juga mahu sistem kuota
Kalaulah benar lapuran asal itu silap, mengapa Menteri Pendidikkan
terlalu lembab bertindak (5 hari lamanya). Takkanlah ia tidak mempunyai
nuombor talifon akhbar? Lagipun ini zaman teknologi - ia boleh memaparkan
sahaja pembetulan di laman webnya tidak sampai 5 minit sahaja.
Setidak-tidaknya hantarkan emel sahaja kepada semua akhbar. Sudah banyak
kali menteri pendidikkan gagal menangani isu yang sensitif sejak dilantik
oleh Mahathir sendiri. Kali ini penyokong BN sendiri sudah tidak dapat
berdiam diri lagi. Mahathir telah teraib oleh orangnya sendiri...
Mixed signals sent over ethnic quotas for university places
IAN STEWART in Kuala Lumpur
Days after Malaysia's Chinese community was led to believe that a
quota reserving 55 per cent of university places for Malays and other
indigenous groups might be relaxed, they are facing the possibility
that it will be increased.
Malay activists called for the quota to be raised to 66.1 per cent,
reflecting the proportion of indigenous races in the population, after
the Education Ministry said it made a mistake when it released figures
showing Malays did not take up all the places reserved for them.
The latest developments in the quota issue have sparked angry
editorials in Chinese newspapers, reflecting the community's concern
that young people should have the opportunity to pursue university
studies. In the three decades the quota has been in place, many
Chinese families have sent their children to study overseas, but
rising costs have limited the option to wealthier parents.
More than 500 Chinese with the highest academic qualifications were
refused entry to Malaysian universities this year by the quota system,
which allocates 35 per cent of places to Chinese and 10 per cent to
Figures supplied by the Ministry of Education last week appeared to
show that more than 7,000 places reserved for Malays and other
indigenous people, who are grouped together as bumiputras - sons of
the soil - were not taken up. But on Tuesday the Minister of
Education, Musa Mohamad, said the bumiputra quota had always been
filled and a ministry official apologised for not supplying complete
Before the ministry provided the revised figures, Prime Minister
Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia could not afford to have a brain drain
caused by other countries "pinching" Malaysia's best students. "If
Malays or bumiputras are not interested, we will give the seats to
others who can meet the requirements, irrespective of whether they are
bumiputras or not," he said.
But after providing the new statistics, the Minister of Education said
the ministry was "not budging" on the quota.
A columnist in the Star newspaper, which has links to the Malaysian
Chinese Association, the second largest party in the government
coalition after the dominant United Malays National Organisation
(Umno), said the handling of the controversy had been a mess and
called for another look at the education system. Other Chinese
newspapers were more sharply critical of the authorities.
The Sin Chew Jit Poh said it was absurd that the ministry had "given
birth" to extra bumiputra students to fill the quota. He said the
ministry had made fools out of Malaysians and the Prime Minister.
The China Press said the ministry had not provided a reasonable
explanation of why top Chinese scholars had been unable to enter
university. It said the quota system must be changed in the long run
to help Malaysia achieve its aims.
But Malay activists strongly oppose any modification to the quota
system. Zainal Abidin Wahid, who advocated raising the quota, accused
Umno leaders of "being too clever with their statements" before the
future of Malay children was secure.
The Sunday Star
Need to take another look at our education system
Comment by Wong Chun Wai
A MESS--that's the only way to describe the handling of the
controversy over the failure of our top SPM students to get places in
There have been enough heartache stories over the past one week in our
newspapers about our bright young talents being denied places.
Even before the plight of 500 non-bumiputra SPM applicants can be
resolved, a controversy over figures relating to places for STPM
On May 2, Higher Education Department (HED) director Prof Dr Hassan
Said had announced that over 30,000 students would be offered places
at public universities.
He was quoted as saying at a press conference that "not enough
students meet the minimum standard."
At an interview later, Dr Hassan said non-bumiputra applicants could
not be offered more places because there were not enough qualified
bumiputra students to make up the 55:45 quota if the projected figure
of 38,000 was maintained. (Click here for The Star's report on May 3.)
But the situation changed on May 8 when the Education Ministry
produced new statistics to show that all available places to public
local universities had been filled.
Apologising for the mistakes, Dr Hassan said all bumiputra places for
the academic session had been filled and that in fact 11,376 qualified
bumiputras did not get places. (Click here for The Star's report on
Dr Hassan was honest enough to admit his mistakes. It is not something
unforgiveable; to err is, after all, human.
In an interview with a local daily, which also appeared on May 9,
Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad said the issue did not arise
because there were no vacancies.
He was quoted as saying the total intake for applicants with STPM was
about 40,000 a year and the target this year was 38,000.
He said that in November, the ministry took in 5,761 matriculation
students and another 2,600 matriculation students from the
International Islamic University, making it a total of over 8,000.
With the 8,000 plus the 30,800 students who were accepted in May, the
total number was about 39,000, which exceeded the target.
Musa said the problem started when this newspaper deducted 30,800 from
the targeted 38,000 figure and ended up with the 7,000 plus figure.
The report, he added, gave the impression that there were no bumiputra
students to fill these places.
Musa said the ministry wanted to reply to The Star in the form of a
Letter to The Editor, but before it was done, the matter was already
The former USM vice-chancellor's reply is not likely to satisfy many
segments of Malaysians.
Even the figures are confusing. In the interview, Musa said there were
4,433 places for SPM applicants, not including the additional 160
places for the top non-bumiputras.
In the press statement, read out by Dr Hassan, the figure given was
If the report was wrong, the ministry could have easily telephoned,
sent a letter through the fax or sent an e-mail for a correction to
No explanation was made until Musa's interview in the newspaper.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, meanwhile, had to
answer questions from the media on the issue. (Click here for The
Star's report on May 7.)
The original topic on the plight of the 500 students had degenerated
into a debate on whether the quota system should be abolished.
Several Barisan Nasional and Umno leaders then proposed that these
unfilled places for bumiputras be opened to non-bumiputras.
The Umno Youth must be commended for its statement that students with
excellent results, irrespective of their backgrounds, should gain
admission into local universities.
It said the quota system should be maintained but unfilled places, be
they for bumiputras or non-bumiputras, should go to deserving cases.
In a letter to a newspaper, Umno Youth exco member Affendi Zahari
urged the Education Ministry to use its discretion and to compel local
universities to accept the high achievers into the faculties of their
He said these students must be admitted because they were potential
first class students and that "we must show that we are above anything
petty" and that "we must spare no efforts to be flexible to
accommodate the interests of the non-bumiputras."
Affendi said: "It only goes to show that the policy to assist
bumiputras is not done at the expense of the non-bumiputras" and that
"it shows a sense of fair play."
"These brilliant students of whatever race are our hope to propel the
country to greater heights and they must be accommodated," he wrote.
The official stand by Umno Youth reflects well on the party. It
reaffirms the party's commitment to the politics of accommodation and
its reasonableness and boldness.
The Government must also be commended for insisting that all
applicants with 10As and above be automatically accepted into
It shows the question of limited places can be resolved if we have the
Our educators have tried to explain the rationale for the rejection of
These include the quota system, the competition among non-bumiputras
and the preference among non-bumiputras for only choice disciplines,
such as medicine and engineering.
The Education Ministry has given details on the criteria on the
selection of applicants.
But this has given rise to more unhappiness and even confusion.
The issue here is the denial of our cream of the crop into
universities and that we are in danger of losing them to universities
They are all Malaysians, irrespective of their race, and for them to
be denied fair play in a system created by the bureaucrats is a crying
At the same time, those who debate the issue must never forget the
quota system was set up to help the disadvantaged Malays. We must
stress that the system is necessary.
But we should be mindful of calls to lower qualifying standards to
Not all non-bumiputras, we must accept, can afford to send their
children to local colleges or overseas as poverty does not recognise
The rejected applicants must also not give up hope as they can still
go to Sixth Form or join Tunku Abdul Rahman College where discounts
are being given to top students.
What is more important now is for our educators re-look our overall
education system and the university entry system and take into account
the quota system, fairness and flexible implementation.
A way out of this sticky situation would be for the Public Services
Department to offer scholarships for our top scorers who have obtained
places in private colleges and overseas universities.
It will be a win-win situation for all because the top scorers would
have an option, while the quota for bumiputras would not be upset.
As the Education Ministry cleans up the mess, the bureaucrats should
learn the 3Rs--reason, rationality and responsibility.
We should not mess up the future of our bright and young Malaysians
who have so much hope in the country.