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Author By: Venothan kathalingam

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Khalid over call to open UiTM to non-Bumis

On Sunday, Abdul Khalid(Selangor MB) proposed that 10 per cent of all new student intakes in UiTM be reserved for non-Bumiputeras and foreign students.

He said the move would be timely as it followed changes in the education system, adding that it would give UiTM students early exposure to be more friendly towards people of other races.

UiTM was set up in 1967 as Institut Teknologi Mara, when then prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein wanted to raise the socio-economic status of Bumiputeras.

In Shah Alam, the university's vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Seri Ibrahim Abu Shah said as a Malay leader, Abdul Khalid should not have brought up the issue. Ibrahim said the issue should not have been brought up by anyone much less by a Malay leader.

"This is somewhat extraordinary. It is weird that a Malay leader should voice out something under Article 153, and I am giving this opinion as a professional for the good of the country and not only for Bumiputeras," he said at a press conference here yesterday.

Ibrahim said Malays only made up 35 per cent of the total intake for higher education in public and private higher learning institutions.

"The majority of students in critical fields like accounting and pharmacy in public higher learning institutions are non-Malays and in private higher learning institutions, 90 per cent of the students are non-Malays.

"Our Constitution stresses balance. This is a statistic which should be understood by any leader, government or opposition body and nobody should begrudge UiTM as the only public university for Bumiputeras."

Ibrahim also slammed Abdul Khalid's statement that UiTM students were less friendly towards people of other races and not as competitive as students in multiracial universities.

He said the claim was baseless, adding that Abdul Khalid's statement showed that he was an unethical and unprofessional leader.

"As a leader, we should speak carefully and not just base our statements on our own perception. Many UiTM students now hold top positions in both the public and private sector."

Ibrahim stressed that only the Federal Government had the authority to open up UiTM to non-Bumiputeras.

"If Pakatan Rakyat becomes the ruling government, not only can they open up UiTM to non-Bumiputeras, they can also change the Constitution, including turning the country into a republic.

"I hope Malaysians will think carefully before they make their decisions and not be influenced by those who speak only for their own political benefit to gain the support of Malays."

Ibrahim said he was disappointed that Abdul Khalid brought up the matter when other races had already accepted the fact that UiTM was a university for Bumiputeras.

"I liken the person who made the statement as a kerbau dicucuk hidung' (just a follower). I could not fault those who push for this as they are fighting for their race.

"But Abdul Khalid as a leader should think before making such a statement and not betray his own race," said Ibrahim who did not discount the possibility that the statement had been made due to pressure from third parties.

The vice-chancellor warned those involved not to bring up the issue again as about 120,000 UiTM students and 350,000 of its alumni were prepared to stage a nationwide protest.

Meanwhile, UiTM pro-chancellor Tan Sri Arshad Ayub told the New Straits Times that UiTM should be kept as it is as the time was not right to make changes.

"The existence of UiTM is in accordance with the New Economic Policy to eradicate poverty and restructure society. Until we really feel comfortable that we have achieved what the NEP sets out to do, UiTM should not be opened to non-Bumiputeras.

"The time is not right as there are still many things to be done. However, if Pakatan Rakyat takes over the government, they can do whatever they want," he said

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