USM defends Education Minister’s remarks

19 May 2019 / 17:45 H.

GEORGE TOWN: Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) has come to the defense of Education Minister Dr Mazlee Malik for comparing the quota system for the intake of matriculation students to the need for Mandarin mastery when applying for certain jobs in the private sector.

Its vice-chancellor Profesor Datuk Dr Asma Ismail in a statement, said that certain quarters should not look at the remarks by Mazlee through a racial periscope, but more to the realities on the ground now in Malaysia.

The statement comes in the midst of an online signature campaign which was launched to seek for the resignation of Mazlee, who is considered by some quarters as one of the brightest technocrat - minds around.

“There are imbalances in the employment opportunities in a diverse country such as Malaysia. They represent the realities of now.”

Education and job opportunities are inter-related.

“These are facts which have emerged in our society. Everywhere, there are pressure in the various job sectors (due to a need to appease all races). It is just that we were afraid to openly disclose it. The matter was considered taboo and even though research was previously done, it was rarely made public to safeguard the harmony among all races.”

Asma said that instead of dwelling on the polemic issue; what is important is improving the skills set of all Malaysians so the country can compete in an increasingly difficult and complex world.

“What is most important now is to support the reformation process currently under way for the education sector. But before it can take off, there is also a need for a reformation of our mindset to accept the present realities.”

Asma asked if the politicians and academics as well as policymakers were willing to sit down and use a honest approach to negotiate and find a solution.

“The new Malaysia is one which espouses to find unity in diversity. It is a starting point to earn mutual respect and a strength to ensure that everyone can have access to the country’s economic pie.”

In this regard, the Education Minister’s well meaning intentions need to be seen in a positive context without any racial prejudice, said Asma.

What the country needs now from her educators is to address poverty and to reduce the gap of disparity - it is not just a Malaysian agenda, but one under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said Asma.

She cited that it was part of the UNDP sustainable development goals to reduce inequalities and poverty.

Asma stressed that the education system must remain a tool for unity.

Also it must educate Malaysians to become global citizens while sharing in the country’s prosperity, said Asma.

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