50th Merdeka – end annual “racial polarisation” caused by “fraudulent meritocracy” of varsity student intake

In a week or two, the new student intake for 2007/2008 into the public universities will be announced and Malaysia will again go through the agonizing annual racial polarization caused by the “fraudulent meritocracy” as a result of the use of two completely different examinations to decide on the higher educational future of our children — the STPM and matriculation.

I understand that 40,016 places in public universities will be offered for the new academic year, with racial breakdown of 24,957 or 62.36 per cent for bumiputeras, 12,616 or 31.53 per cent for Chinese and 2,443 or 6.11 per cent for Indians.

DAP MPs have repeatedly called in Parliament for the end of the “fraudulent meritocracy” in the use of two completely different examinations for university intake and it is a matter of grave regret that no Barisan Nasional MPs, particularly from MCA, Gerakan, MIC, SUPP, PBS and other component parties in Sabah and Sarawak have dared to support such a call.

The use of two completely different examinations for university student intake – with the STPM universally recognized as very much more difficult and of higher standard than matriculation — has the most adverse long-term effects for Malaysia in at least four senses:

  • Setback for national unity and nation-building in plural Malaysia, as it provides an annual event causing racial polarization;
  • Undermines university quality and academic excellence which have seen Malaysian public universities plunging in international rankings for top world-class universities;
  • Grave impediment in the drive to enhance the nation’s international competitiveness to face the world challenges of globalization; and
  • Promotes public deceit and lack of integrity by perpetuating the fraud that there is no difference between STPM and matriculation.

On the occasion of the nation’s 50th Merdeka Anniversary, let us all focus on how Malaysians can become more united, harmonious, dynamic and progressive in the coming decades.

Let us end the annual racial polarization caused by “fraudulent meritocracy” for university student intake by adopting one common university entrance examination from next year, whether STPM or matriculation — which will make the 50th Merdeka Anniversary most meaningful to all Malaysians who are committed to the goals of promoting national unity, restore academic excellence of public universities, enhance our international competitiveness and most important of all, uphold public integrity by ending the public deceit of “fraudulent meritocracy” based on two different examinations for university student intake.

[Speech (2) at DAP ceramah in Buntong, Ipoh Barat on Sunday, 10.6. 2007]

  1. #1 by k1980 on Monday, 11 June 2007 - 1:13 pm

    If there is no truly difference between STPM and matriculation as claied by the Education Minister, why not just scrap the STPM and let all sixth formers sit for the matriculation? I am sure the STPM teachers are more than willing to teach the shorter-syllabi, less strenous semester-based matriculation subjects.

  2. #2 by boh-liao on Monday, 11 June 2007 - 2:04 pm

    The divide and rule practices are very fine-tuned in Malaysia. Don’t expect the ruling politicians to admit that the 2-year STPM (mainly meant to frustrate non-Malay students and reduce the university intake of non-Malay students, especially in highly-in-demand professional courses) is different from and tougher than the 1-year matriculation/Pusat Asasi system. Expect tears and outcries from STPM achievers when the university intake results are announced later. This is our annual national show.

  3. #3 by mendela on Monday, 11 June 2007 - 2:18 pm

    Yes, STPM is mainly used to frustrate non-Malay students and to reduce the non-Malay university intakes.

    BTW, in most rural areas, only Islamic related subjects are offered in form six. You won’t find many science subjects being offered.

    Pity our non-Muslim six-formers!

  4. #4 by FuturePolitician on Monday, 11 June 2007 - 3:22 pm

    i been a 6th former…it sucks.. knowing you cant get into U even with great scoring..but life is still good taking a break before joining the adult world..or preparation to be a working adult contributing to the family and country.. what a loser!

  5. #5 by Cinapek on Monday, 11 June 2007 - 4:08 pm

    I know our STPM is accepted as entry qualifications to universities worldwide. Is the matriculation also similarly accepted?

  6. #6 by fail2think on Monday, 11 June 2007 - 4:22 pm

    The ambitious new generation Malays are no longer contented in merely serving as public servant anymore, and the Government knows they can fit them all in government offices since decades ago.

    The strategy is to allow the slightly educated ones to have the academic competitiveness in the private sector by mass production of paper qualifications, while the less educated ones be taken care of by the Government in the public sector.

    So when 2020 comes, there will be more ‘graduates’ and professional Malays in this country compared to all the non-Malays ones sum up. The private (employment) sector will be run (by a majority) by Malays through the NEP. They will definitely give preferences to Malay ‘graduates’ compared to non-Malays as by then paper qualification will no longer be a basis of disadvantage to the Malays.

    Where will non-Malay graduates be? a) overseas; b) in MNCs locally; c) with SMIs/SMEs run by non-Malays; d) start their own business.

    a) How many non-Malays can afford to leave everything behind here (family & loved ones) and chase their dreams abroad, legally or illegally?

    b) How many MNCs left investing in this country? And how many are brave enough to say or admit they are not directly/indirectly subject to racial quota in employment policy?

    c) How many SMIs/SMEs capable of absorbing non-Malay graduates?

    d) If you wish to start a business, where are your funding coming from? Bank loans or private investors. Bank loans and government grants also got racial quota. Once you get your business started, who are your customers? Government or mass consumers. Don’t forget, majority consumers are…..

    I truly pity the non-Malays who will be thriving for their lives in 2020. It’s a Vision alright. The binoculars used to see thsi Vision are just different. I’m sharing what my binoculars see.

  7. #7 by mendela on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 - 12:08 am

    STPM accepted worldwide?

    Not if 3 out of 5 subjects you take are all Islam related!

  8. #8 by Godamn Singh on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 - 1:57 am

    Malaysia will go the way India has gone. Soon every 9 out of 10 Malaysians are graduates.

    I look forward to that because who else could you trust to cut your hair and your toe nails?

  9. #9 by dawsheng on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 - 2:27 am

    “DAP MPs have repeatedly called in Parliament for the end of the “fraudulent meritocracy” in the use of two completely different examinations for university intake and it is a matter of grave regret that no Barisan Nasional MPs, particularly from MCA, Gerakan, MIC, SUPP, PBS and other component parties in Sabah and Sarawak have dared to support such a call.”

    MCA has accepted Hishamudin’s explanation about his keris incident so everything is ok for the Chinese in Malaysia, you can leave if you don’t like it. As long as CM of Penang is from Gerakan, everything is fine for Gerakan in Malaysia, even though Penang is a failed state. As for MIC, Samy Vellu might as well campaign for all Indian to become Muslims, converse only in BM and follow the Malay culture so all the Indians will be awarded the Bumiputra or Malay status.

  10. #10 by Godamn Singh on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 - 3:56 am

    What does racial polarization?? Does it mean you got to go to the Poles? North or South?

  11. #11 by good coolie on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 - 8:25 am

    Don’t be so pessimistic fellows. It’s true the Govt is using double standards, hoodwinking people into thinking that Matriculation has the same standards as HSC, but do make the best use of the STPM/HSC, the poor “non-bumiputra” students’ way to advance-level passes. If scraps are thrown to you from the table of the rich/powerful/high-born, gulp it down voraciously, wagging your tail, biding your time. Things will change for the better.

  12. #12 by Libra2 on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 - 10:10 am

    Ultimately, it is quality that matters. Students from matriculation make their way into the universities on account of the colour of their skin. But then, will they be able to make it later on in life in a flat world.
    To say Matriculation and STPM are equal is self deception and every educationist knows that.
    To obtain a CGPA of 4.0 means the students has to obtain A’s in ALL subjects.
    In the US to get an A one has to obtain 90+ marks, a B is 80+ and C is 70+.
    You get a D if your grade drops to 69! and F if you get 59 marks.
    Now can we know how many marks one needs for an A in matriculation. I think it is anything about 60.!!!!!!!
    It can be doctored ( as always) to curve the graph so that all of them get As.
    Professors have been told to remark papers to increase the grades. This is an open secret.

  13. #13 by Godamn Singh on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 - 10:35 am

    Americans grades their candidates differently. They give you 100% and then they deduct. In this way it is easy to get an A or a B. C is not good for them.

    But using the system followed in the U.K. they add on the marks instead of taking away marks as they go along. That way it is hard to get a B. A grade C is quite good. In American terms, C is a conditional failure.

  14. #14 by undergrad2 on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 - 10:47 am

    When I was an undergrad, my American Professor would give marks based on originality of thought and ability to think independently. To regurgitate what you read from the text books would only get you a C or a D both of which are regarded as ‘conditional’ failures by U.S. universities.

  15. #15 by Godfather on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 - 10:49 am

    Eventually those who think that they can get into local university through fraudulent means will suffer because in the real world, your inadequacies will show up glaringly. In the real world, the one-eye can never match those who obtain their degrees through sheer hard work and merit.

    Mahathir instituted this policy not because he thought that all those who got into university through the uneven playing field would become superstars in the corporate world. He thought that even if he succeeded in making one superstar out of a thousand, that would be regarded as a success of his policy. The other 999 ? Well, they could go into public service as civil servants.

    Our local universities have such bad reputations that there is no merit in going to a local university anymore (perhaps with the exception of UTAR). If you can’t afford to send your children to the US, UK or Australia, don’t despair. Think closer, to places like Singapore or Hong Kong. If you still can’t afford it, consider UTAR because at least your children will study in a meritocracy and not let bad feelings swell as they would inevitably do so in the other local universities.

  16. #16 by sotong on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 - 11:50 am

    To create a back door to enter uni……..how low would the politician/s go to achieve their misguided, narrow and damaging objectives.

    Nothing is spared by their narrow, short-sighted and damaging politics…….this explains the enormous problems facing the country and her ordinary people.

  17. #17 by k1980 on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 - 12:18 pm

    Try this fair though clumbersome compromise: All applicants to Malaysian universities must take BOTH the 2-year STPM and the 1-year matriculation/Pusat Asasi and the average marks they scored for each subject in these 2 exams be taken as their final grades for university entry. In this way no one will ever complain which exam is easier and beneficial to which party

  18. #18 by Toyol on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 - 2:33 pm

    The only way out for non-Malays is to get an overseas education for your kids and tell them to stay overseas. At least their children will have better opportunities than our racially motivated education system. Those who can’t afford the cost of uprooting will get stepped on time and again…poor souls. God bless them.

  19. #19 by undergrad2 on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 - 7:11 pm

    Look at it this way, folks

    The government is doing you a favor by ‘forcing you to get an education overseas’. The rote learning and the brainwashing you get at home hardly qualifies as education.

  20. #20 by UniPutriansMsia on Wednesday, 13 June 2007 - 11:17 am

    Its ridiculous to say both systems are of the same stds!!! i m an undergrad n i know this very well….i have done a survey… for my course for chinese it must be at least 3.75 n above!! for bumi its below 3.5!! some even from diploma which has nothing to do wif my course! meritocracy? i really hope so but the sheer fact is that it is not true… some of my bumi friends oso will sth really wrong wif our edu system, but what can we do? its the gov policy!!!
    to uncle lim : my advise to you during parlimentary debate is to pressure the higher edu dept to either recog matric or STPM but not both!!! have a similar entrance exam, that will be fair enough!! or else ask them stop saying that both exams are of same std, we esp those taken STPM really feel ‘discriminated’ by such statements!! my other suggestion is to ask them to come out wif facts n figures on the cut off points for each course, n ask them to do a survey on this ( the CGPA of students for each course) if they think they are practising ‘ MERITOCARCY’ instead of mediocracy!!!

  21. #21 by shaolin on Wednesday, 13 June 2007 - 11:29 am

    MINTA TOLONG of Malaysia Government NOT to play politics again
    in Education and many other fields that our fellow citizens can
    name them… in this BOLEHLand, SEMUA BOLEH…!!

    Please end all the nonsense racial polarisation and fraudulent meritocracy by INSTALLING RIGHT NATIONAL POLICIES, NATIONAL UNITY WILL COME NATURALLY by All MAlaysians without having to
    chant ‘MERDEKA, MERDEKA, MERDEKA..’ in the 8:00pm News!! We
    all know that, You Suck!

  22. #22 by jlingp10 on Wednesday, 13 June 2007 - 4:09 pm

    Dear YB Kit, Can you ask in parliament how many registered professionals are there that have left malaysia or choose to serve in overseas after their studies? Is the BN minister dare to reveal?
    Matriculation=Mari relaxation
    STPM= Standard & Top Pupils of Malaysia
    I understand that for the recent years, the STPM science students have difficulty in getting As. Meaning less pupils got chance to qualifying. So all the rottened one can go in to local U’s

  23. #23 by SinMsian on Wednesday, 13 June 2007 - 11:57 pm

    Comments by an ex-researcher (received via email from someone a few times removed, so this is unauthenticated, but seemed very plausible in light of Maybank’s and other similar racist moves):

    I used to work in a Malaysian university holding a professorial post on contract. I could not be confirmed because I do not have a SPM (more later). I worked in research dealing with stem cells but left after 3 years despite the offer of renewal for another 2 years. I am a Malaysian Chinese who spent nearly 20 years overseas in some of the big name universities in Australia and the UK.

    After observing the system from the inside I can tell you that Malaysian universities will never improve, and whatever improvement you see will not last. I will set out my reasons in a concise manner.

    Why Public Malaysian Universities Will never improve:

    (1) Staff are not hire on merit. I’ve noticed that most of the new staff hired are Malays. There are very few Chinese and Indian staff on tenure track. In fact most of the non-Malays I came across are hired on contract. It does not take a genius to know that if you don’t put people on tenure, they will not give their best.

    One day I asked a DVC in private why there are so few non-Malay staff on tenure. I was surprised when he told me directly that there was an unofficial quota. He further told me that there is a lot of resistance from the junior Malay staff when non-Malays come in because they perceived the non-Malays are better researchers and academics. He also told me that good non-Malay staff go overseas, especially to Singapore so they do not want to waste their time in hiring non-Malay staff.

    I do not {know} if this is true.

    (2) No research culture since promotion is not based on research

    Despite all the talk by the Minister, there is no research culture. In fact, most local academics are not interested in research. A few of the Malay academics told me straight in the face that they like group or cluster research because it is “easier”. They don’t go for excellence or individual research. They also tell me that promotion is based on administrative work and “cables” to the Minister or VC.

    In fact a few of them told me that good researchers are punished by the whole group because they make the others look bad or lazy. Thus no matter how good you are when you join, by
    putting you in a “research group” they are slowing the good ones down and before you know it, they become part of the group culture.

    In the university where I was working, the VC or DVC did not published a single paper in an international referred journal. Except for one DVC, the VC and the other DVC do not even have
    a single book. The DVC with a book is a textbook in Malay and when I looked at it, I realized that it was mainly translation he passed off as his own work. Two of the DVC were active with UMNO and the VC is a relative of an UMNO strongman. Thus the “cable” theory appears to be true.

    A retired Malay professor told me the most important criteria for promotion is “how you get along with people”. He also told me if you are good, they will bring you down because if the universities have standards, then they cannot survive in their jobs. In his own words, more than 4/5 of the current university staff will never be able to get academic jobs in a real university.

    (3) Pettiness and Jealousy

    The Malay culture is based in group behaviour and gossip and during my time there, I noticed that even academic staff took a lot of time in gossiping about nonsense. Most of the female academic staff used gossip to bring down capable people. For example, one Malay guy who just came back with his PhD had to endure a lot of gossip, all because one female academic staff complained that he did not hold a kenduri to celebrate his successful completion of PhD.

    Another time, all the academic staff, including the Dean, ganged up against me because I had managed to published a paper in a leading international journal. Immediately after my name was mentioned by the BR VC as an example, the Dean started telling other academic staff that I did not “contribute enough” to the faculty.

    I was under the impression that I was there to do research and publish but for these people, who cannot do research, the priority was on social events. This Dean was not even an academic in the first place but was a civil servant before he was appointed Dean. All the academics he has appointed since he became Dean all come from his state and all are local graduates. So how to improve?

    There are many more things I want to say but these are the main reasons why Malaysian universities have no hope of ever being world-class. As long as everything is based on race, pettiness and not on merit, I cannot see a way out.

    I am writing this not out of frustration (I am now overseas) but to also show why local universities waste so much money joining the Geneva Exhibitions and the like (as reported in the newspapers).
    The sad truth is when you have people who cannot publish in real academic journals, then they play silly games like join exhibitions.

    The USM DVC who defended this practice would be laughed at if he was at a real university. In fact, to be frank, people like him cannot get a real academic job in Singapore, NZ or US. He is a symbol of what is wrong at local universities.

    In sum, you have the blind leading the blind.


    If the above is true, why bother trying to get into local universities?

    More than 25 years ago, my elder brother needed 3As in his Cambridge HSC as a non-Malay to study engineering in Universiti Malaya, at that time, top-notch uni with good reputation in the region. Now, I am not so sure of its standing.

    I myself was fortunate enough to gain entry to the University of Singapore to study engineering. From my O Level batch, any Malay who scored Div. 1 was automatically offered scholarships to study overseas, whilst those Malays who remained to study A Levels were those who scored either Div 2 or even Div 3 (those who are old enough will know what these scores mean) in their Cambridge O Level exams. These were the mediocre ones who went on to study in the local unis, depriving many of my non-Malay classmates, who had scored Div 1, of the opportunities of acquiring a tertiary education.

  24. #24 by shortie kiasu on Thursday, 14 June 2007 - 8:25 pm

    By hook or by crook, UMNO/Malays will try to circumvent the “meritocracy” in order to grab all opportunities, including higher education and jobs and contracts through the power that be.

    So they are damning themselves in their slumbers. Don’t ever wake up!

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