Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Separation of Races

The Star published a series of articles yesterday relating to the inaugural convocation ceremony conducted by Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) over the weekend, which saw our Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi gracing the occasion.

The generous allocation of space in yesterday's papers was probably due to the fact that the Malaysia Chinese Association (MCA) owns or is closely linked to both the newspaper and the university. In an earlier post, I have discussed the issues relating to universities sponsored by political parties and its negative implications. Here, the impact can be seen.

One particular article stood out on the Star's front page - out of a total of 2,083 graduates, there was only ONE Malay student. In fact, if I understand correctly from the article, she is the ONLY Malay in the student body comprising of some estimated 6000 students.

Haslina Mohd Hassan, who graduated with a degree in business administration said that she not only obtained a degree from Utar but also learned more about Chinese culture. She admitted that she had little support in her choice of university:
“When I made up my mind to do my degree here [in UTAR], my parents and friends were not supportive. But after I got here, I realised that the Chinese were not anything like what they had been perceived as. They are friendly and helpful.”
While her willingness to test a challenging environment in UTAR is something to be applauded (loudly), the fact that she is recognised as a very rare exception does not bode well for our higher education system in Malaysia. From race-based political parties, we now have race-based universities.

Newly elected MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting proudly proclaims that UTAR strive to make itself "The People's University".
“Utar is, after all, a university built and supported by the people for the people. It moves my heart every time I see the man in the street – the ordinary wage earners, hawkers, small traders, taxi drivers – bring in their contributions simply because they trust MCA to deliver a valuable commodity to the people.”
How is it that UTAR will become "The People's University", when in fact it is the MCA University, or in more blunt terms, the University for Malaysian Chinese? The bumiputeras will have Universiti Teknologi Mara, which the government has placed a maximum quota of 10% of non-bumiputera enrolment. There are now even calls for an UMNO University.

It is extremely disappointing to see that while many of our leaders preach national unity and integration, the policies which they advocate are instead entrenching the racial separation and segregation in the country.

18 comments:

globalsan said...

Tony:

Just would like to point out that the 10% quota for non-Bumi is for Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) only.

Universiti Teknologi Mara(UiTM)is still 100% for our Bumi brothers and sisters.

These are factual statements as we can read from our newspapers.

I stand corrected if I were wrong of misstatement of facts.

Well..I think OKT's proclaimation of facts that it's "the people's university" because it is open to
any Malaysian, irrespective of race. There is no artificial barrier like quotas that stop one
from enrolling.

Irrespective which party has founded the university, as long as it gives opportunity to rakyat to acquire knowledge, I think it is
a noble move that benefits Malaysians!

Keep it up! UTAR!
and Congrats to Haslina!

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Tony P said...

Hey Globalsan,

Your information on UiTM is correct.

My point with OKT's statement was that there's not point proclaiming the form of a "People's University" when in substance, the students enrolled into the institution are not going to be reflective of the Malaysian people.

Yes, the "journey of a thousand miles begines with a single step" - and that's why I am putting my thoughts into a published blog, in the hope that it will contribute towards a better education system for Malaysians i.e., I haven't given up hope yet-lah :)

But by having universities set up by the unique race-based political parties of Malaysia, we will not be taking the "single step" towards an integrated Malaysia, but instead it is many steps towards a separated one.

BTW, is UTAR actively seeking to boost its bumiputera students intake? Maybe it should, if UTAR does indeed want to become the representative Malaysian university, instead of a Malaysian Chinese university.

:)

clk said...

why can't these insitutions initiate some "diversification" scholarship or entrance criteria to accomplish a more diversified student population?

daniel said...

What's wrong with having a university for Malaysian Chinese, when a substantial portion of its funds comes from them?

UTAR is the product or if I may say, the victim of the circumstances where the government caused the racial segregation through its racially biased university entrance policy; where then would the chinese students go if not for UTAR? Taiwan? China? other countries and spend even more in foreign exchange? what about those who cannot afford to go overseas?

Moreover, when I was in the vicinity of colleges like INTI, Taylors and others, I also see only a sea of chinese students. These are the ones who are also kept out of the local university doors some by choice and many by the same lop-sided government policies. At RM200K per head for overseas twinning expenses, I see millions in currency outflow!

Until the day when the government changes its stance on race based policies to one based on merit, UTAR will always be needed to balance the inequality. And although I am not exactly a fan of the MCA, this is one project I support with no reservations; unless if you can come up with a better and workable solution.

kungfucandy said...

The local institutions of higher education have a long long road ahead. Until the day egoism bows to recognisation of the present facts, I doubt there will be change. Students will continue to leave the country in search of better oppurtunities.
IMHO, the situation is getting sadder by the year.

Bigjoe99 said...

I predict that UTAR will be the No. 1 university in this country, sad to say, the government will take it over and open it up to Malays while forcing non-bumis to go to the other ones in the name of national unity. Mark my word. Haslina girl is going to go places so long as she does not poke her head too far up the a** off the powerful idiots around her.

rakyat said...

I recall some UMNO politician questioning why there is only a small number of non-chinese in UTAR some years back. They had wanted to impose the same kind of quota system implemented in the local universities.

UTAR is open to anyone. Since they can only accept a finite number of students, obviously only those who have the requisite qualifications will get in.

In contrast, UiTM has a policy of not admitting any non-bumis, which Shafie, vows to uphold.

Tony P said...

Actually rakyat, in the interest of national unity, and to the exasperation Chinese and Malay education "protectors", I actually think that all public universities in Malaysia should have a minimum racial mix - something like 15% Malays, 10% Chinese and 5% Indians, irrespective of whether it's UTAR or UiTM.

:)

lion said...
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kok said...

Racism and racial discrimination have been part of Malaysian social, political, economic and cultural realities ever since colonial times.

Today, race has been so deeply institutionalised that it is a key factor determining benefits from government development policies, social policy, education policy, entry into educational institutions, bids for business contracts, cultural policy, discounts for purchasing houses and other official policies.

Practically every aspect of Malaysian life is permeated by the so-called 'bumi policy' based on malay-centrism. This is unabashedly spelled out by political leaders in the daily mass media in Malaysia.

It is an established fact that racial polarisation is prevalent in various Malaysian institutions. A survey by University Malaya shows that 98 percent of malay students do not mix with non-malays while 99 percent of Chinese students and 97 percent of Indian students do not mingle with the other races.

While the government tries to account for this problem by blaming other extraneous factors such as the existence of vernacular schools, it is clear that the roots of polarisation lie in this institutionalisation of racism and racial discrimination.

The ruling party Umno prides itself on the supposedly 'successful' affirmative action in favour of bumi. Bumi literally means 'princes of the soil', the official epithet for malays and other indigenous peoples but which excludes the original peoples, i.e. the Orang Asli of Peninsula Malaysia. This has been the cornerstone of development plans since the New Economic Policy was started in 1971.

Consequently, while this populist bumi policy has been applied to the benefit of bumi as a whole, the new malay ruling elite is strategically placed to reap the full benefits of this racially based policy. Totally committed to capitalism and to privatisation, this policy has ensured that the non-malay local and foreign elite have also gained from the New Economic Policy since 1971. This class cohesion among the Malaysian ruling elite underpins the racialist politics which has characterised Malaysian society since Independence.

Racial discrimination in the realm of culture is seen not only in the education policy but also in the discrimination against non-malay cultures and religions in the National Cultural Policy. Non-muslims face obstacles in their freedom to build places of worship and access to burial grounds, among other complaints.

Racism and racial discrimination have dominated Malaysian society for far too long. Now that the malay ruling elite has clearly gained control of the Malaysian economy, it is high time for a new consensus based on non-racial factors such as class, sector and need to justify affirmative action.

hong said...
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expat said...
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shin said...
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yuking said...
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vovo said...
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ThisIsMalaysia said...

UTAR opens its door to everyone, regardless of race. The fact that it has a very high percentage of Chinese students is a reflection of the lack of higher education opportunities available to Chinese Malaysians in public universities in Malaysia. The fact that very few Malays choose to study in UTAR reflects the abundant higher education opportunities available to Malay Malaysians in public universities in Malaysia or overseas. Furthermore, why would Malay students enrol in UTAR and have to work very hard to compete academically with their Chinese counterparts? Indeed, very few Malays have the desire to do so. Most of them prefer to be in the public universities and taught by lecturers of their own kind.

On the other hand, UiTM is only for Malays and bumiputras. Our former Minister for Higher Education even declared openly that it will be over his dead body to change this bumiputra-only policy. Well, at least, he can keep his body now as he is no longer the Minister.

So between UTAR and UiTM, which is racist? Which racist university is supported by our government and, adding insult, by our (i.e., taxpayers') money as well?

Anonymous said...

I agree 101% what ThisIsMalaysia said.

Without UTAR and TAR college, where else can those poor chinese get their higher education. Only to those who are rich can talk about migration. But what about the majority? It's imposible to change the policy no matter how you shout. So we must think of a way. That's why we have UTAR and TAR college.

Tony your comments about minimum racial mix do not make sense. UTAR does not have quota, it's they themself do not apply and this is something we should applaud. Do you mean to set up a quota? If yes, you must be kidding. They have enough opportunity.

At least MCA is doing something for the chinese by setting up UTAR and TAR college.

Anonymous said...
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