MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Sunday, July 31, 2022

Why discriminate against non-Malays under matriculation system?


From P Ramasamy

The country’s pre-university matriculation system, which had been dormant for two years as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, is back again as a highly-controversial issue.

It is believed that more than 200 straight-A Indian students were denied entrance and were hardly given the required time to appeal.

The nonsensical racial quota of 90% admission for Bumiputeras is still in operation.

This means that good and qualified Indian and Chinese students have little opportunity to enter into the matriculation programme this year.

Students coming from well-to-do families have the chance to go overseas. However, such a luxury is not within the grasp of poor non-Malay students.

Of course, they have the option of pursuing their pre-university two-year Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM) in public schools, a much more difficult programme compared with the pre-university matriculation.

While the STPM examination answers are graded under a centralised regimented system, the students in the matriculation programme are evaluated on the basis of classroom performance.

In fact, there is really no comparison between these two pre-university courses. Academically, STPM is far superior to the matriculation programme.

Very few Malays with good Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) results will ever want to enter Form 6 classes and sit for the STPM examination.

There is not need for them to take the tougher STPM route when the relatively easier matriculation programme has been tailor-made for them.

Originally, the matriculation system was meant for Malays. It was a pure and undiluted racist set up. It was just another way to enforce institutional racism in the education system.

However, as a result of demands from the public and parents, non-Malay students were gradually admitted into the matriculation colleges with an admission quota of 10%.

But this was hardly sufficient to address the demand for more qualified non-Malays to be admitted.

Even though the STPM programme was a solid one, however, its long duration, inflexibility and the development of other pre-university courses have rendered it less attractive and cumbersome.

Due to the movement control order (MCO) imposed over the last two years as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was hardly any direct admission of students in schools.

Things have now returned to normalcy with the admission of students under the matriculation system.

As a result, racism has reared its ugly head in excluding non-Malay students on the grounds of a racial quota.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob should stop all his talk of Malaysia as one family if the matriculation system continues with the current practice.

Given the dateline set for the appeals, MIC and MCA have now awakened from their slumber to seek personal favours in the admission of students on the basis of their appeals.

The time has come for the matriculation system to be opened up for all Malaysians.

If the system cannot be abandoned, then a new system should be put in place to cater for all the races in the country.

It is without question that the admission of students must go beyond the narrow and myopic concerns of race and religion.

Education is not about passing examinations, but about opening up the minds of the young to the plural and cosmopolitan nature of the world we live in.

It serves no purpose to harp mechanically on the theme of “Keluarga Malaysia” but yet at the same time sow the seeds of racial and religious hatred.

Let the matriculation system not be used to punish and humiliate the innocent non-Malay students.

It is unacceptable for a country to deprive its own citizens by denying entry into a pre-university programme just because they were born as Chinese or Indians. - FMT

P Ramasamy is Penang deputy chief minister II.

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.

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