Saturday, August 16, 2008

Spotlight on UiTM - The Issues

After focusing on the UiTM VC previously, I want to touch on the issues highlighted by this recent controversy.

Let's step away from the politics of the statement and examine the its implications. If the VC and some of the UiTM students want to maintain UiTM as a mono-ethnic institution, then they have to consider the following. They should abandon any pretense of trying to achieve a 'world class' status university. Not that this was achievable in the first place anyways. But there is no university in the world that comprise of only one ethnic group and can be considered anywhere close to first class. Furthermore, it's not as if UiTM selects the best and the brightest among the Malays / Bumiputeras in the first place. My understanding is that it's pretty easy to get in, as long as you are a Malay / Bumi. Being mono-ethnic and being non selective, this VC and others following in his footsteps should just give up the pretense of trying to build a 'world class' university.

I've not thought about this issue from this angle since I always assumed that one of the main pillars surrounding university life was the pursuit of scholarship in the midst of diversity, not just in terms of ideas but also amidst people of different ethnic groups, income levels, etc... The idea that a university can call itself as such but reserve its places totally for students of one ethnic group just belies belief in some sense. We've always had ethnic quotas in our public universities but there was always ethnic diversity. Walk into any university in the US, from the best like Harvard to some which have never been heard of in Malaysia, or go to any university in any developed country, you'll see students of different ethnicities and nationality.

For our Malay / Bumi readers who disagree with Khalid's suggestion, try to answer this question - Name me one other university in any country, developed or developing, where the students are of only one ethnicity. If you want to argue semantics in that UiTM comprises more than one ethnic group (Malays and the different Bumiputera groups in Sabah and Sarawak), then do this - name me one other university in any country, developed or developing, which does not allow members of a certain race entry into that university.

You had this kind of policy in the American South before desegregation and you had this kind of policy in apartheid South Africa. But now in South Africa, the only other country in the world that practices affirmative action for the majority population, universities are totally desegregated and there are no universities which are reserved only for the black population.

In other words, Malaysia is probably the only country in the world which restricts citizens of a certain race (in this care, more than one race) from applying and gaining entry into one of its universities (or in effect, the entire UiTM system).

In this light, one might even say that UiTM does not even fulfill the conventional understanding of what a university is, at least not by international standards.

Let's take this a step further. Let's say that 10% of the places in UiTM are opened up to non-Malays. What is the likelihood that these places will be snapped up in a hurry? My sense is that they will not. 10% of the places in the MARA colleges were opened up to non-Malays a few years back and indications are that this quota is nowhere near being filled. There are just too many options for non-Malays out there these days. The many public unis, the private colleges, the many twinning programs etc... makes UiTM probably one of the last places that they would want to go. If this is the case, then the argument that non-Malays would be somehow 'stealing' the places of Malays does not stand. In any case, the options for Malay students in terms of universities are probably more than that of the non-Malays. It is not as if a Malay / Bumi student who fails to get into UiTM will not have the option of going to another public uni.

This is not to say that I agree that Khalid's suggestion will necessarily solve the problem which he identified. His reasoning was that by allowing non-Malays and international students to gain entry into UiTM, this would increase the standards of UiTM as well as giving the opportunity for the Malay / Bumi students in UiTM to mix with students of other ethnic groups and hence be more exposed to the world and can have better career prospects.

This might be a nice ideal to have but I suspect that allowing non-Malays and internationals to gain entry into UiTM will neither improve the standards of education in UiTM nor will it necessarily be better for the Malay / Bumi students in terms of exposure. After all, UM, USM and UKM, probably the top three public unis in Malaysia are ethnically mixed but this has not prevented the standards there from dropping over the past few decades. And there is not guarantee that the current situation of de facto racial segregation in our public unis will not be replicated in UiTM if non-Malays are allowed in.

UiTM needs much more than just allowing non-Malays entry if it wants to improve itself. There needs to be wholesale structural re-arrangement is this is to happen.

Ultimately, the losers from this whole episode will likely to be the UiTM students. The other public unis, especially the research universities - UM, USM, UKM, UPM - are moving forward and trying to be more open. If there is going to be any improvement in our universities, it is likely to start with these public universities and not UiTM, especially given that it has a VC who is an UMNO 'lifer' and an ITM 'lifer'.

P.S. I think that another negative side effect of this episode is that some non-Bumi employers might discriminate, implicitly or explicitly, against UiTM graduates, exacerbating the already serious problem about unemployed UiTM graduates.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder what would be the status of non-bumis in INTEC, UiTM Shah Alam Sec 18. Perhaps INTEC is the only faculty within UiTM which is probably world class.

Their very presence in the UiTM system is a contradiction to the mono-ethnic claims of the institution. To be consistent, INTEC should not be part of UiTM at all.

NoBle said...

typical....too typical. they don't work hard, get a bad result in their spm / stpm yet they are not worried as they can resort to UiTM. Then they wanted make sure no other races are allowed to enter the university so that their children / grandchildren / future generation could repeat the same thing all over again. How are they going to improve with this kind of attitude?

An ex-INTECian said...

Actually, as once a INTEC student, I am really sick of this UiTM issue.

I really wonder whether the VC and people of UiTM nation wide know the existence of us, the non-bumis in their very own campus.

Anonymous said...

there is a lot of non-bumis studying at INTEC UiTM. i think the author of this blog didnt know that. do your research before blogging. dont make stupid joke here. why u should condemn uitm? why not UTAR or other university ? the author seems like very frustrated, racist, has his own political agenda, & this blog will only give negative impact. use your education for a right reason. stop blogging if u cant make use of your education. i wonder which uni u graduated from. sigh.
uitm graduates are making success & more money while u continue writing on this nonsense blog. but what did u get? u get nothing. again, NOTHING.

Anonymous said...

my experience will help u to compare between UiTM and other uni graduates. i worked for ExxonMobil (oil & gas MNC company) last few years & at that point of time, we took undergrad students to do practical training with us. normally we only take students with high CGPA to do practical training with us. back to the story.. we took 3 UiTM students, 1 from UM, & 3 from MMU. surprisingly, the UM student left us after the 1st day bcoz couldn't face the pressure. all the practical trainees from UiTM & MMU stayed till the last day. all three UiTM student were hired to work for us for permanent position, but i'm not sure what happened to all MMU students. frankly speaking, if u go to ExxonMobil, u'll see lots of UiTM graduates are working there & they are really good at work. that's why i think, whether UiTM is for bumis or nonbumis.. there'll still be competition among the students. pls stop fighting & talk negatively. it will bring u nowhere.
to the blog author: stop condemning people & dont create issues that can raise unhealthy situation . lets create harmony among malaysians.

Anonymous said...

Anon 09:00,

U most properly not working in the HR dept of ExxonMobil.

There is an unwritten rule - certain % of the jobs must be given to Bumi, irrespective of any qualifications!

U also didnt specify the background of those 7 student trainees - academically (which disciplines), & place of origin (P/E M'sians).

If U do those clarifications then U will know why at the end ONLY 3 UiTM were employed!

Wrt work scores, best-of-the-worst & one-eye-rule-over-the-blind just about sum them up.

Trust me I know & it's VERY frustarting YET cant do anything about it!

Anonymous said...

they were hired not bcoz of the quota , but becoz they are really good, even during the practical training.
shame on u. dont simply make assumption bcoz of ur frustration.

Shawn Tan said...

The reactions that we see are to be expected. I see this problem as similar to the problem of vernacular schools. Both are seen as the last bastion of whatever that they are supposed to protect and propagate. If the MB had suggested converting vernacular schools into regular schools, the very same kinds of reaction will be seen. This UiTM issue is no longer an educational issue, but a racial one (again!).

Some thoughts of mine here.

Anonymous said...

Yes Shawn, i do agree with u. This UiTM issue is no longer an educational issue, but a racial one. Can we just let UiTM be on their own? I believe Chinese have UTAR, while Indian have AIMST. Eventhough bumis are allowed to enter UTAR & AIMST, but we can clearly see that only one race conquer each institution. So it is a fair game.
If u dont want to send ur kids to any of these institutions, u have lots of choices out there. So stop fighting!!

NoBle said...

UiTM - PUBLIC university
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uitm

Utar - PRIVATE university
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UTAR

AIMST - PRIVATE university
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIMST_University

Yes, chinese have Utar, Indian have AIMST, Malay have UiTM. It's fair right? NO, it isn't at all. Chinese and indian have to cough up a large sum of money to pursue their studies at the above mentioned PRIVATE university while Bumis have the privilege of studying in UiTM at a relatively small cost.

If the government is not funding UiTM, everyone will just keep quite as it has got nothing to do with them. But since the government is funding UiTM with the tax paid by Malay, Chinese, Indian, Iban, Kadazan and many more, everyone should have equal rights to at least voice out their opinion.

Anonymous said...

anon 04:19:00 PM

U have not justified with qualification to my questions!



I'm frustrated becoz, unlike U I've to bear their mistakes even after numerous demos & extra trainings.

Frus (1) poor command of English & expect to be given BM instructions in a MNC!

Frus (2) poor understanding of basic engineering knowledge. Remember on the field many lives are at stage. There is NO excuses for putting poorly equipped/trained personnel to work on critical missions.

Frus (3) No initiative unless told & instruct. There r many areas to cover on the field U cant expect to baby-sit.

I'm NOT alone too.

Perhaps those 3 UiTM are been trained to do paper-pushing/gossipping, then I dont know......

Anonymous said...

Shawn Tan made a very good point. Often non-bumis like me, criticize and attack others without realizing our own bias.

We often think ourselves as colour blind and others not, when in fact we are all biased and conditioned by our own cultural outlook.

What if vernacular schools, which is seen as the last bastion of the Chinese cultural survival are suggested to be changed to national schools? Wouldn't chinese cultural and political activists come to the rescue with strong appeals and protests?

The result of communal politics puts all of us in an increasingly polarised position with one another.

If we truly want to see multiculturalism and nation building, then there's a lot to work on both in UiTM and the national chinese vernacular institutions (note: both are publicly funded).

But first we need to admit our own bias and shortcomings before we seek to point fingers at both UiTM or the Chinese educationist.

If not we are no different from the beloved VC.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if we be able to achieve Developed Nation by 2020....

When we're going toward the truly Malaysian.When?

Maybe we need another decade or a century before we could fully be developed nation...

Derek said...

UTAR does accept Malays / Bumiputras as their students, provided of course, the minimum grade is met. Please attend their convo to see for yourself.

The reason why there is so few Malays / Bumiputras studying in UTAR is not because they don't meet the grade but because so few Malays / Bumis apply to UTAR.

So, please don't say that UTAR does not accept Malays.

With regards to UiTM wanting to be "world class", KM is right, no University who discriminates will ever be "world class". Imagine if Oxford only takes in "White Brits".

Anonymous said...

honestly, everything is heavily politicised in this country, which is why i dont normally bother with what the Govt does or does not do, as long as i can live my own life, freely. so far, nothing is impossible.

noname said...

Dear Anon 8.55pm 16/8,

I quote your statement above with replies in bold statements.

"What if vernacular schools, which is seen as the last bastion of the Chinese cultural survival are suggested to be changed to national schools? Wouldn't chinese cultural and political activists come to the rescue with strong appeals and protests?

FYI, the vernacular schools have already changed to national-type school for primary and secondary level under the Edu. Ministry purview. They follow the national curricula and the same national examinations (i.e UPSR, PMR, SPM and even STPM) as the national schools. Isn't that enough? It's only the teaching and learning mediums that are different. Even then, we do not see any problems arising from it as most vernacular school students can switch to other mediums successfully without much a hitch.

As for the independent high schools, we cannot comment on them as they are fully private institutions that use the syllabi comparable to their top Singaporean counterparts. In spite of this, they do not discriminate or bar any students from different racial backgrounds provided they have the merit to be admitted.




If we truly want to see multiculturalism and nation building, then there's a lot to work on both in UiTM and the national chinese vernacular institutions (note: both are publicly funded).


We must understand that UiTM is a higher education institution with the title 'University' conferred to it. And it's also declared a public one. Why the heck does a PUBLIC institution bar the non-Bumi students, the citizens which should have equally rights on the education? On the other hand, the national vernacular institutions you mentioned are only the primary and secondary level schools. As I said, they follow strictly the guidelines by the Education Ministry and most of all, they do not discriminate as long as you can follow what is being taught. Please don't drag UTAR or AIMST or any other private universities into this fray. They operate based on merits and profits and there is no doubt about that. They do not obligate themselves to the public unlike UiTM which is shamelessly declared a public university. It has to answer to the public, the taxpayers regardless of race and creed.


Well, as for INTEC students and graduates, you guys are/were prepared for overseas universities with the Pre-U qualifications like A-Levels or equivalent under the sponsorships of govt or private establishments like PSD. Even though it is under UiTM for some circumstances, INTEC students will not further their studies in UiTM nor local ones. So INTEC is a special case in which it is operated in UiTM under govt dictation. As you guys are bound for prestigious unis overseas, do they discriminate based on nationalities? Do you have to specify your race in your overseas university application forms?

Anon 8.55pm 16/8 said...

Dear noname,

I regret that you seek to use strong pejorative statements to make your point which I think is unnecessary in this discourse. Afterall, those who championed UiTM also used words as strong as yours in their racist polemics, if not stronger.

Vernacular schools in this context would be national chinese primary schools which is seen by the many as the last bastion of the chinese cultural survival. Yes I agree that there is no formal restriction to their admission process, but that's not my point.

My point (and I believe Shawn's too) is that both Chinese and Malay look at their "institutions" as their bastion points, their final defense for survival. I remembered a statement lately made by DJZ (post-election) calling all chinese political parties to defend chinese education at all cost.

As long as this perception of a dualistic us vs them exist, our society will be polarised.

Stating that the private chinese independent schools are comparable to TOP Singaporean counterparts, is irrelevant to my earlier point of comparing UiTM and Public vernacular schools, and it further reveal the "us vs them" bias in your argument.

This appeal to superiority (moral and academic) I believe is due to your own internal justification to make up for the systemic polarisation that you perceive, and is confined within your cultural outlook. It makes no extra merit to your criticisms.

I must agree with you though that UiTM as a public institution must be accountable to the public, as much as national chinese primary schools. While we seek to have 10% of UiTM students from the non-Malay population, will the chinese educationist agree to an increase of non-Chinese syllabus and teaching staff in their schools?

In both cases, there is a need for nationalisation and multiculturalization of these polar bastion points to account for the national multicultural outlook of the Malaysian society.

To fail to do that is disservice to our future generations.

Yours truly
Anon 8.55pm 16/8

noname said...

Dear Anon 8.55pm 16/8,

I understand your points regarding the worrying trend of polarisation of different races in schools and workplaces and the so-called bastions of educational establishments of each distinctive race. But that is not the core issue in this blog article, which emphasises on the discriminations and barring of students of certain backgrounds. I do not disagree, and I don't think any sane person will do with the existence of vernacular establishments, be it Malays, Chinese, Indian, etc as long as they do not cross the boundary of extremism as seen by policies of UiTM.

As for the dualistic system, it's the govt policies that do more harms than good to the future bastions of our country, the current and next generations of students. It's funny to look at your comparison between the UiTM and the vernacular schools as dualistic. It's not dualistic at all. It's complementary if you understand what I mean. Why compare different institutions of different levels and call it dualistic? It's akin to comparing a kitten (vernacular schools) to an adult tiger(UiTM in this case). If you'd like to compare, please be more logical and put forth examples with more or less the same standards, like say, STPM and Matriculation. It is this STPM vs. Matrics thing that should be called DUALISTIC system which starts all the polarisation you have mentioned.

And for my perceptions about the current dire situations of education in M'sia, I don't think cultural outlook plays a big part here. FYI, I first started my schooling in a Chinese vernacular primary school and continue with a national SMK which did not offer Chinese Language as a subject and later did my STPM, again in a national SMK Tinggi before enrolling in a private Uni. Without going to vernacular school, I don't think I could comprehend my own mother tongue which is going to play an important roles in decades to come. It'd be different if the national schools can offer different languages as a subject. But sad to say, NADA.

Back to core issue. A mono-ethnic education institution will not stand tall among the best in the world or perhaps, even locally. It can only be the jokes of the education sector. While most universities in the world strive to go global, transcending nationalities, UiTM is still 'rotting' in its own cocoon, using taxpayers' monies. This is not acceptable in the 21st century. And to sum it all, I don't the sacred Islam will condone any form of discriminations based of races and creed.

p/s. My point is strictly on public institutions.

Anon 8.55pm 16/8 said...

Thanks no name for your response.

I agree that the core issue is formal discrimination on the basis of ethnicity and nationality, in the name of national affirmative action, and I agree that UiTM has breached the ethos of the academia, especially from the liberal education and global competitiveness context, deemed to be extreme. But where is the boundary line to be deemed as extreme? Legal formal discrimination other forms of implicit discrimination on other variables (Eg: income, age, gender, health status)? And while you may claim that some restrictions are extreme, others may not (eg: the VC of UiTM).

But the concept of ”non-discrimination” in itself is a cultural outlook and has problem in itself because the nature of certain institutions/studies which has specific requirements will exclude those who don’t. Eg, will Al-Azhar admit non-Muslims? Will a Israeli army academy admit a Palestinian? Will a medical school admit one who is HIV positive from Africa? Will a catholic seminary to train priests, admit a Hindu monk? Non-discrimination is in itself a liberal cultural outlook, yet discrimination is not a very good thing either. But I shall not go into that.

The reason that I compare vernacular primary schools with UiTM is because it is an very good example of polarisation on the basis of ethnic/communal outlook. While the level of education is different, but it is not important as we are comparing not the vertical differences (kitten vs fierce tiger) between a tertiary education with a primary one. Instead, we are examining the horizontal comparison in terms of ethnic communalism. I am comparing apple with oranges, not comparing Mandarin oranges with assam lemon.

Matriculation vs STPM is not a very good example because matriculation in itself has already admitted non-Malay students, besides it is not a very racial-politically charged affair on both the Chinese and Malay side compared to UiTM vs vernacular primary schools.

Cultural outlook is not only determined by habits and customs, but as well as perception and thought, influenced by our environment. While you are not in the mainstream chinese activism, you fail to acknowledge your cultural outlook as a minority chinese with bias towards certain values, principles and aspirations.

It is unhelpful not to recognise that and start to impose these cultural outlooks on those who may not necessarily share them. In this case, I refer to the cultural outlook of meritocracy (it is a cultural value championed by certain sectors of the chinese diaspora, which has its own problem) and pragmatism (we need to be globally competitive, but not everyone wants to be globally competitive. Global competitiveness is a social-cultural construct)

Failure to acknowledge our cultural bias, added with the minority complex, we then appeal to moral superiority (eg: we are non-discriminatory, they are racist bigots) and academic superiority (eg: we will always be better in terms of education, they will never meet the academic requirement), to make sense out of the perceived disenfranchisement.

Thus, to cut the story short. I still believe that the UiTM vs vernacular primary school is a good example of ethnic polarisation, and many of our discourses fail to acknowledge that our cultural outlook do influence some of our judgments.

Perhaps, meaningful dialogue and change would be possible if both sides would acknowledge their bias and empathise with what each other has to say. If not we will forever be resorting to appeal to moral / academic superiority at one side, and political patronage at another side.

Then God-willing, some change may be possible to address our increasing polarisation.

Anonymous said...

INTEC is only open to non-bumis if you are on scholarship. If you lose your scholarship, you get kicked out of INTEC like a friend of mine. So INTEC isn't really open to non-bumis. It is an anomaly. INTEC takes bumi private students but no non-bumi private student. UiTM, however is open to foreign students i.e. it is open to Muslim foreign students. So it has already opened its doors to non-bumi but non-Malaysian students. Logical???

Anonymous said...

While everybody is focused on the UiTM issue, do you guys realize that the latest ranking for World University by Shanghai Jiao Tong Univ had unveiled? Not a single Malaysian university is on the 500 list! It comes with no surprise, anyway.

Check Here:
http://www.arwu.org/rank2008/EN2008.htm

This time it was shocking that not even a University from China made it to the Top 200! Reason? The research quality is still not up to TOP QUALITY even though the top uni like Tsinghua and Beijing Univ had collectively presented more than 2000 SCI papers! NO JOKE! 2000 papers a year!

Try name one research paper from Malaysian University from those Top Journals that are SCI indexed, and not from the "Pariah" local Journals!

Ragdoll said...

hey is there any forum bout diploma practical training?
im not satisfied with my diploma practical training in kdu penang...
from 3month and now is 4 month! i have to pay to the college and waste my time workin for 4 damn months... and continue 2 more semester before graduate... i thought practical trainin suppose to be 2 months... this is a scam...anyone?? help

noname said...

Dear Anon 8.55pm 16/8,

Again I really appreciate your discourses on the abovementioned issues.

We have agreed so far that UiTM has crossed the moderate terms as far as liberal education is concerned. But what have not we done, especially for those in powers, is to keep in check the extreme practices as seen by UiTM as a PUBLIC, yes public education institution. The govt not only failed to clearly define the boundary between moderation and extremism, they have even corroborated these rulings with the policies of UiTM in the name of affirmative actions. The so-called affirmative actions are then implemented in the expense of other communities by restricting them altogether. According to Federal Constitution Article 153 in regards with Bumi Rights, the govt has the power to establish quotas for entry into civil services, scholarships and public education. But quota by prohibiting 100% Non-Bumis into a public education centre? Isn't that considered extreme? It's outright unconstitutional. Law has to prevail here, not the 'UMNO lifer VC' zealot. Sadly no one dares to come forward to challenge these policies as per the Constitution.

Yes cultural outlook of someone will be influenced by his/her environments. But it is not the excuse to stop anyone from understanding and empathise with other people outlook and perceptions and practising egalitarian actions by helping communities from different racial backgrounds. The one simple act of narcissism by banning certain communities to be a part of a public institution can be deemed as revolting at best. After all, it is funded by all taxpayers' of various communities. As for your view that 'non-discrimination' is a cultural outlook, yes I agree that some institutions do have certain stipulations. However those stipulations cited in your examples are the norms of their societies and they are generally acceptable by their own people and from around the world. We all know that those are common sense without doubt. Why does a devout monk wants to pray in a church? Why would a Palestinian want to be a part of Israelis' army other than for some ulterior motives?

Comparison between the vernacular schools and UiTM is never a good choice in my humble opinion. Thanks for pointing out the vertical point that I was referring to. But it also looks garbled when you compare them in horizontal terms. It's never aligned together. As I said in my previous comment, the existence of ethnic-communal establishments cannot be denied nor opposed. They have been here even before the Independence of Malaysia. Similarly with the existence of vernacular primary schools and UiTM in post-Independence. But the abovementioned institutions have never discriminated any potential patrons. Imagine that if a Malay restaurant forbidding non-Malays customers from having their meals there, what would have happened?

The STPM vs. Matriculation instance was used because it's a highly contentious issue between the non-Bumi majority STPM holders and Bumi majority Matriculation graduates. Even though Matriculation programmes have already admitted 10% non-Bumis, it is still seen by public as a leeway for Bumis (an overwhelming 90%) students to enter the public universities, including UiTM. What would a non-Bumi applicant think if he/she is barred from a favourite choice in a public-funded institution like UiTM? It makes no sense at all.

Yes I do agree that we need to have more meaningful dialogues or forums to discuss the future courses of our beloved nation. But if you look at the recent events that worked in favour of those in power whose have threaten to use the infamous ISA against the freedom of speech as seen in the abrupt ending of Bar Council forum, we cannot help but wonder whether this can be worked out in a highly emotional and hypersensitive populations regarding certain issues.

The racial polarisation as portrayed here is not only because of cultural outlook and bias, but also the deep resentments that have been implanted in each of every person between have and have-not. For example, the poors will forever blame riches for their plights regardless of (sigh)again, races and creeds. What the poors do not understand is that, no one owes them a living and it's all because of their own undoings that lead them into this abyss...

Anon 8.55pm 16/8 said...

Dear noname,

I see some merits of your arguments.

I agree that a 100% quota is unconstitutional, and perhaps an overzealous attempt of affirmative action. However, discrimination nor egalitarianism have their own problems, and they depend on which society they operate in. Both cultural constructs based on particular contexts, which had been made into ideologies. Hopefully with the new political climate there will be greater check and balance by stakeholders (eg: taxpayers) who hold on to a more egalitarian vision. But note to be given, not all multicultural taxpayers share multicultural outlook.

Restrictions by certain institutions discussed earlier depends on how it is justified, and in Malaysia UiTM has been argued to be a form of affirmative action for three decades, with minimal opposition. But other institutions places different form of restrictions based on their needs, functions and biases. However, a true liberal education does not see any barrier AT ALL to equal opportunity to education. Anyone can study anything anywhere. Why would a hindu monk study in a church seminary? By asking such, it is a contradiction to one’s own liberal persuasion.

You said that “the existence of ethnic-communal establishments cannot be denied nor opposed”. If this premise is true, then the existence of Mara and UiTM are justified by this premise, so do other ethnic establishments. Thus, when we critique UiTM in this blog post, we should reserve our comments on only their justification for their restrictions and not to go beyond by questioning its monoethnic ethos. If not, then we are contradicting the first premise, as well as taking a dualistic stance, which I believe appeal more to emotional sectarianism rather than rational engagement.

With the first premise in mind, then the existence of matriculation programme for a largely monoethnic target group cannot be denied as well. While their restrictions can be questioned, to question its existence too, is dualistic. .
It is when Malay activist groups starting to see issues from a dualistic worldview as we sometimes do (we vs them / bumi vs non bumi / muslims vs infidels / East vs West), there will always be the alarmist panic overreaction of “our race is on attack” type. Malay groups will continue their appeal to political power to assert their position while the non-Malay groups will appeal to internal moral superiority. Meaningful dialogue would instead turn to name-calling, insult throwing and destructive-criticism.

I like the Bar Council’s reply to the demonstrators, “We are here not to fight with anyone,” which is more soothing than the actions of certain quarters a few days after, demanding the chastising of the demonstrators, which would not solve the issue at all. I also applaud PAS for offering to dialogue with the Bar Council on the issue instead of calling upon draconian laws, which they themselves oppose.

Without appreciation to the point of view and cultural outlook of ourselves and others, we fail to see the reason both sides of resentment, and thus we fail to forgive our enemies (like Jesus taught people to do), and we will continue to fight hatred with hatred.

noname said...

Dear Anon 8.55pm 16/8,

First I thank you for your nice pieces of writings (other than the good blog post by KM), justifying that ethno-communal establishments (i.e. vernacular schools) as the root causes of racial polarisation (correct me if I'm wrong) because of the so-called dualistic views by different cultural constructs, which I don't agree much as it doesn't relate much to the core of UiTM policies and the polarisation that it causes. But it's good that we have come so far with the vision of fairness and equality among all communities in M'sia.

Admittedly there are certain restrictions by some institutions, depending on that particular context we are in. Nevertheless, the 'restrictions' that you mentioned are merely certain requirements or pre-requisites to be fulfilled before he/she is admitted, and not to the extent to be called 'discrimination'. But then, the society fully realise that these institutions are established with the basis of the indisputable facts, like for example, the mosques are for Muslims, and only Malaysians can only vote in Malaysian territories. People do NOT consider them to be a barrier to practise their rights. And they are acceptable to the society as a whole.

When we look at the UiTM and its justifiability to ban all non-Bumis despite after living under the M'sian flag so 51 years, we cannot help but wonder why this is justified in the first place in this modern age. Many may have argued that it's a form of affirmative action to help lifting up the current socio-economic status of Bumiputra. Yes it cannot be denied that the impoverished should be helped. But at the expense of other communities after so many years of failures to meet the targets? We cannot deny MARA and UiTM existence. That's for sure. The premise holds true. What perplexes us is the need for MARA and UiTM to proscribe all non-Bumis admittance for what's rightfully theirs to have equal opportunities in a public education institution. Ethnic ethos you say. What's the point of questioning them? Do we question why do Malay speak Malay Language?

It is the same with the dualistic (hmm...I begin to ponder the true meaning of dualism) system of conventional STPM and Matriculation programmes. All roads lead to Rome, so say the ancient philosophers (does it?). Whatever routes you take, you will reach your destination in the end. I am not questioning the existence of the Matriculation programme. What I have to question, are the need to restrict non-Bumis from the programme and its reason behind its shortened 1-year curriculums compared to 2-year normal period for STPM examinations which then creates the uneven field for the applicants to enter public universities.

We all know that there is no absolute freedom in this world. If it does, then there would be no laws, nor would there need to be one to govern the people originally going through millenia of evolutions from a barbaric species to the civilised societies. And in the case of MARA and UiTM, which are established under the laws enshrined in the Constitution, they are obligated to adhere them or else, they have to face the consequences of operations against the rules of law.

As far as liberal education in concerned, nobody should be stopped from acquiring knowledge as he/she deems fit. That is why there exists so much avenues for everyone to obtain them. The world itself is already a stupendous 'education centre' that teaches us more than we could handle alone. What have we understood until this moment as a collective group in terms of intellects is only tiny fractions of what Mother Nature has taught us. Coupled with the Internet as the 'library of the world', we can indeed study anything anywhere. And these instances are more than enough to expose the minuteness of UiTM as the 'bastion of Malay and Bumi' and the phenomenon of polarisation in the face of globalisation.

Anonymous said...

Just refer back to the statements made by Singapore premier Lee Kuan Yew. The credibility , educational background and of the administration and governance of the country. They elect elite people for first division team. Try to learn from Singapore as they have limited natural resources and yet they can still be so successful..... or maybe some countries are producing more and more third division people.....who knows???

Anon 8.55pm 16/8 said...

Well said noname. Thanks for taking the time and energy to engage with me.

Lets agree to disagree for now on the minor points, and see what crops out next in the this controversy.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Dear author and readers,

I am called to answer the blatant accusation by the the author (X).

First of all let us face the issue straight.

Keep the VC issue as UMNO lifer or UiTM lifer out of the contention. It is not relevant because any VC who hold the position in his capacity needs and mandatorily to upheld the dignity and reputation of the organisation. Let it be UTAR, AIMST, Kolej KOJADI, Kolej TAR.

It does not necessarily he was involved in any particular political affiliation.

Second, definately as a graduate of ITM (currently known as UiTM) he is proud and responsible more than other person to improve and defend the UiTM policy and stand especially when dealing with this mindless onslaught by X.

Anonymous said...

Guys,

Let face it UTAR and Kolej TAR are taking less qualified students also based on specific ethnicity.
They are masking the issue by covering it with accepting other races actually it is meant for this ethnic.

If the writer wanted to start the issue, let the writer bash all the collages in the same league not just bashing UiTM to be fair.

Let face it, do not accuse of certain university is accepting Bumiputera they are in the same league with UTAR or Kolej TAR.Definitely not.

UiTM are subject to UPU intake and it intake comprise of students who are capable by merit to enter university.

Of course, UTAR and Kolej TAR students perhaps achieved outstanding achievements so do UITM.

UiTM is providing place for Bumiputera and Malay( it is not meant for Malays only) . We have to admit that they are capable to produce students who are capable to achive world class academic standards.

In the quest of excellent, it is not right to say that UiTM is lacking the competitiveness due to its status as university of Bumiputera. There are many more local universities which you claimed that better than UiTM because taking multiracial students but in education ranking are below the achievements of UiTM ( which UiTM is on the top tier university in Malaysia, definitely not the first). This further proves the say, that to open up to other non-bumiputera to be excellent does not hold water.

Form my observation, in these university, students from all races tend to group according to their ethnicity and does not minggle around except very few of them. Certain ethnic students perceived hardworking and claim to be all of them intelligent which is open to debate are well known do not want to share their knowledge with other races which can help further improve the education level as a whole.

The excellent university does not mandatorily depends only opening up to multiracial students to encourage competitiveness and the greatness in academic but how the university manage their system and students to further achieve their aspirations to be the best.

Anonymous said...

OKM/Tony must be jumping up and down. Their point is that while opening up should be done to be in line with best practise of other uni, they also point out it may not make a big difference.

OKM fails to address the logic though if it makes little difference, then why do it and marginalize 10K bumi students?

The obvious answer is that those 10K students are better off in some other areas rather than wasting their time in UiTM. Its the old but sound Reagan Revolution argument of the limited ability of govt of course. But its passe in an age of people fighting unprinciplely for every freaking opportunity they can get their hands on.

These days people expect govt to offer real alternative solution, a new socialism. After all Singapore now has welfare, unthinkable even 10 years ago.

I have always said that Malaysia biggest labour failure is the inability to transition to the German model industrial apprenticeship because of our weak industrial base. The truth is it need to do a service-industrial apprenticeship system for those who should not be in unis. Singapore is way ahead of the curve on this and Malaysia is behind partly because we are stillt talking about this issue from the traditional emotional point of view rather than taking the cue from OKM/Tony on the facts of the matter...

Did I lose most people here??? What do you think OKM/Tony...

Derek said...

To Anon @ 8/20/2008 09:44:00 PM.

There is no such thing as a so-called "World Class University" who practices discriminatory policies or shields its students from open competition.

This is like saying that Harvard should only be open to "White Americans". How long do you think Harvard can stay as one of the Top Universities in the World.

Just closer to home, do you think that NUS can stay as of of the Top Universities if NUS is only open to "Singaporean Chinese".

Secondly, lets be totally honest. If a smart Bumi/Malay were to pick a Public university in Malaysia, his top picks would be in the following order:

1) UM
2) UKM
3) UPM
4) USM or UTM
5) UUM

The above Unis are considered to be the top Public Universities in Malaysia. Why, because there is more competition to enter the Unis and thus if there is more competition, it has to be better, else why even bother.

By calling itself to be the "last bastion for Malays / Bumis", this is indirectly saying that there is always hope for the less academically inclined to have access to higher education through UiTM, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

People deserve a second chance and an opportunity for higher education, especially when UiTM was founded, opportunities for the Malays / Bumis was very lacking.

However, today, things are quite different and we can't always be living in the past. We have to move on and be innovative, else we will be left behind.

In 1970, the general standard of Education of Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore was considered to be on par with each other.

Today, the standard of Education in South Korea and Singapore can still be considered to be on par with each other, but Malaysia has been left way behind.

At the end of the day, the losers will be the students of UiTM if they are not taught the proper values to apply in the real world, social interaction skills and competiting for what they want.

UiTM can aspire to be a world class university, which is what all universities should aspire to be.

But make no mistake, UiTM will never be a world class university if they still restrict the entry to only one particular ethnic group and by calling themselves, "the last bastion for Malays / Bumis".

You cannot have it both ways, take everyone and still be world class. If that were the case, I would have graduated from Harvard or Oxford.

Anonymous said...

I know, it's a little bit late to talk about the above issue but i believe the issue is still there.I'm a TESL student of UiTM who study in INTEC.But i'm not preparing for overseas university.I must say that, most of the authors that give comments above do not know the reality of being in UiTM.You gave comments outside of the fence.Have you ever think that not all students here agree with what VC and some of the students did?Yes, it sounds unfair for non-Bumis for cannot enter UiTM when it is subsidized by the government.But the question is, do they want to enter it when they think it doesn't have high status compared with other Malaysian universities?One more thing, UiTM is not necessarily take low achievers to enter it.Actually, the suggestion of opening UiTM to both Bumi and non-Bumi actually has pro and cons.Personally, i do agree with it.It's time for us to open it to all Malaysians in order to foster competition among all its students and at the same time, familiarize students with other races.But, still do the non-Bumis want to enter it?Frankly, like most of Malaysians, i also never think of entering UiTM before.But, once i enter it, i feel really grateful.It offers me the best education with the cheapest cost.Almost all my lecturers graduated from overseas universities. They train me to think universally.After all, that's what TESL is about.So, what else do i want?Let's just stop all these issues and focus on to make Malaysian university get to the top in the world.Let it be UM, UTAR or UiTM!

Anonymous said...

Nak ke non bumi masuk UiTM. Yang diorang asyik kejarkan UM. Kos apa pun tak pe asalkan UM. So, kenapa bising kalau UiTM untuk bumi je. Bukannya korang nak masuk pun. Tak hingin kan...

Konstabel Muniandy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

ya,sya kena setuju yg sbnarnya ramai non bumi sbnarnya x mahu pn msuk uitm.malah ada yg terang2 pndang lekeh.pastu saja buat drama yg kecewa kononnya sedih kenapa uitm x dbuka utk non malay.x maju la..satu malaysia la..kita kena akui n terima kelebihan yg dberi oleh kerajaan n x leh mngharapkn mndapat kesamaan.satu malaysia bkan bermaksud segalanya harus diberi sama rata.lgipn most non malay kebnykkannya mampu n kaya ,malah di swasta bnyk non malay.sya bkan racist or whatever,cuma harap org ramai faham sbnar2nya apa yg terjadi di mlaysia.terima hak keistimewaan yg dberi bkannya cuba menimbulkan permusuhan kaum.klu x puas ati,faham2 ja lah.negara lain bnyk boleh hidup,jgn duduk malaysia.