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Malay “kebodohan (stupidity)” had resulted in a major ethnic group bowing down to demands of minority groups, which includes the government recognition of certificates by TARC (Tunku Abdul Rahman College), said former premier Mahathir Mohamad.
He said that the recognition is to get votes from the Chinese – indirectly hinting at Najib Abdul Razak, the PM (prime minister) whose popularity is sagging. What is MCA’s or Gerakan’s stand on this statement when UMNO expects these two parties to deliver Chinese votes for BN (Barisan Nasional)?
Does Mahathir who represents UMNO care about the thousands of poor students studying at TARC? These are students who could not get into any of the public higher institutions in the country.
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Mahathir’s statement has not only hurt the Chinese but also has placed Najib in a political quandary. Najib pretty well knows that Mahathir is capable of crippling him politically.
Furore over recognition of TARC certificates
With Mahathir’s crude statement and Najib’s silence, it will be just a short-lived euphoria for MCA. TARC graduates should not be too confident that their certificates will now be recognised without dissent from UMNO obsessives. It was in fact an election gimmick by Najib to announce the “good news” to TARC, which has now turned into “bad news” for MCA.
To recognise TARC certificates will take a long time and way into the post-election periods. It may not even materialise when all kinds of excuses can be concocted later on to deny this recognition.
Unfortunately, recognition and de-recognition of colleges are UMNO’s way of denying the minority opportunities in education and job opportunities with the government. In 2005, the Malaysian government de-recognised the CSMU ((Crimea State Medical University) medical degree.
At the time there were about 1,118 Malaysian students pursuing courses at various levels at the university and they were mostly non-Malays.
CSMU is known for its quality education and has thus far produced over 50 000 medical graduates who have found jobs throughout the world. They have met the standards of a medical school with the ratio of one lecturer to 10 students and with first-class faculties and facilities.
There was not even a grace period given by the Malaysian government to CSMU then, when Universiti Malaya was given five years notice before the de-recognition of its medical degrees by the United Kingdom General Medical Council in the early 80’s.
The de-recognition of CSMU did not reflect well on the Malaysian government, as it affected thousands of Malaysians – mostly non-Malays – studying at this well-established medical university.
The present furore over the recognition of TARC certificates is a political publicity stunt for the election. MCA hopes to win Chinese votes by the “endorsement” by Najib. But the Grand Old Man has already come forward to censure the move by him (calling the Malays stupid) to consider recognising TARC certificates.
He is none other the former (PM) Prime Minister, Mahathir who was reported to have said that it is Malay “stupidity” to recognise TARC certificates. The statement smacks of xenophobia and racialism, and is a real kick in the teeth to Najib and the MCA.
Is he intellectually challenged?
It’s downright unfitting for a man who reined the country for 22 years as PM to utter such a despicable and ridiculous racist statement. But this is his typical political scheme to get the Malays behind UMNO and in this case to deny TARC of what they should have long deserved. Would his despicable statement by Mahathir change Najib’s stand on this issue? It’s most likely.
Najib is perceived as a weak PM and is also famous for his flip-flop policies. He fears that Mahathir may turn the tables on him just like how the latter did to Abdullah Badawi, the 5th PM of the country. The odds are that Najib will cave in to Mahathir’s weight on him. After all, the “de facto” PM now is Mahathir and not Najib!
Mahathir is all along pulling the strap on Najib with the latter keeping mute. The TARC recognition saga has indeed become a political charade and MCA will just have to sit and watch as the drama unfolds.
“This kind of immature and totally irrational statement coming from a person who was prime minister of this country for 22 years has made the people look down on him,” said a Chinese voter. “He is cerebrally unapt to speak on behalf of any community at his age,” he added.
But the Chinese are not stupid either. The Chinese know well that the government's plan to recognise TARC certificates is nothing more than a vote-buying ploy. Once the election is over the whole matter will be swept under the carpet.
Not been a sincere leader
All these sagas only prove that under BN (Barisan Nasional) rule education policies have always been tinkered by UMNO politics. This has worsened since 1981 when Mahathir took over as PM.
The Malays have not been “stupid” but their leaders have made them to think that they are “stupid”. The Malays of today have wised up. There are Malays who feel that after 55 years of independence no colleges or schools in the country should be meant for only a single race.
They want to compete not within their own race but with students of other races in education.
The present generation Malays are out of the old cocoon encapsulated by UMNO leaders. They are now out of the nutshell put on them by UMNO. They are clever, smart and have definitely made tremendous progress since Independence.
Mahathir’s abhorrent and jarring racist rhetoric strongly indicates that he had not been a sincere leader. It is all hypocrisy all throughout during tenure as PM and until now.
It for this reason that currently besides UMNO there are at least two other political parties representing them – PAS and PKR. They desire changes that UMNO cannot provide them.
The Chinese are paying income tax
(TARC) was established on 24 February 1969 with the support of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA). The College operates with a 50 percent subsidy from the Malaysian Government for its recurrent and capital expenditure; the other 50 percent is borne by the Trustees. The government has the right to subsidise the College as the Chinese are paying income tax.
The College was named after the late Tunku Abdul Rahman – Mahathir’s political nemesis at one time.
TARC has no admission quotas and there are students from many ethnic backgrounds – the relatively poor Chinese, Malays, Indians and the Orang Asal – studying at this College. It’s not a bumi-only institution like UiTM (Universiti Technology Mara or formerly known as Mara Institute of Technology). Chinese, Malay and Indian tycoons do not send their children to TARC.
Only the poor will go to this institution because of the cheap tuition fees. Why must Mahathir then be so against the recognition of TARC certificates?
Mahathir must be anti-Chinese as he has the notion that by recognising TARC certificates this would give advantage to the Chinese students when it comes to seeking jobs in the government sector.
Is there any difference between certificates issued by public universities and TARC? Why must only graduates from public universities get jobs with the government? This smacks of racism and discrimination. However, does he realise that TARC graduates are more interested working in the private sectors than hoping for a job with the government?
Mahathir can rest assured that most Chinese could not be bothered about applying for jobs in the country's public sector, as there is very slim chance for them to succeed.
The poor among the non-Malays
Does Mahathir not care for the poor among the non-Malays? Those poor but qualified Chinese who are deprived of places in public universities and colleges are given chances to pursue their studies in TARC. The same goes with the Malays who find themselves enrolled in UiTM.
And does he know that TARC diploma holders are the most sought after by the private sectors compared to diploma students from other Malaysian colleges?
TARC has its reputation, as most of their graduates are sought-after in the private sector. Most companies employ TAR College graduates because of their excellent job performance. They are proven to have good work culture, speak Malay, English and Chinese.
In fact, the demand for these graduates is so high that many are recruited by companies even before the final exam results were released. Many have gone to complete their advanced degrees and are now working in established private sectors locally and overseas.
TARC’s Advanced Diploma in Science, Advanced Diploma in Business Studies and Advanced Diploma in Commerce are recognised as suitable for progression to a Sheffield Hallam University UK Honours Degree with prior credit. The UK universities in partnership with TARC include Sheffield Hallam University, Liverpool John Moores University and Birmingham City.
Irrefutably, there is quality in TARC graduates. The poor students who could not afford education elsewhere have made it in education in TARC with the help of some rich Chinese and also the government. But again Mahathir has this unnecessary phobia that the Malays cannot compete with the Chinese in education.
What was he doing then as prime minister of the country for 22 years to bring up the Malays? He was practically a damp squib to the Malays and it was his warped thinking that has mutilated the education system in the country.
His policy of cocooning the Malays in Malay-only institutions had brought to so many Malays who have graduated without being able to compete with other races and they end up looking for jobs in the civil service. Many Malay graduates are handicapped when it comes to mastering languages other than Malay.
It is still a present-day Malay dilemma all caused by UMNO leaders, including Mahathir. If UMNO leaders have done enough for the Malays they do not have to worry that the minority will surpass the capability of the majority in education.
“It is UMNO’s failed education policies that have desolately trapped the Malays,” said a local educationist.
Mahathir, however, does not have to denigrate the present Malays. The present Malay community does not have to exploit its majority to consolidate power for selfish reasons. Many Malays are actually against UMNO when they see corruption and lack of financial accountability that have weakened the nation’s competitiveness.
It is no longer Malay versus Chinese kind of politics to these enlightened Malay groups. It would be apposite for Mahathir to discourse on endemic corruption that is crippling UMNO rather than wasting his time chattering about education.
It was during Mahathir’s time that skulduggery and corruption reached unprecedented levels. He has actually damaged UMNO beyond repair.
Could not go to public universities
The present Malays also see the atrocious standards of education these days. It’s all the flip-flop policies of UMNO that have spoiled the quality of education, as some politicians are more interested in their own personal agenda than the future of the country. Mahathir regrettably still belongs to the long gone days when the Malays were still left behind in education.
With the majority holding on to power does not mean that they must discriminate against the minorities. If Mahathir still thinks that the Malay race can only survive through discriminatory education policies, then he must have failed the Malays during his 22 years of leadership.
Mahathir is just devoid of compassion. Thousands of poor but bright Malaysian students who could not go to public universities and colleges owned by the government because of the “race factor” have found places in TARC and some other private colleges.
Mahathir does not have to worry. The Chinese are not going to take jobs meant for the Malays in the civil service. They are resilient enough to survive. They just need education to be able to stand on their feet.
Thorn in the flesh
With a single swipe, Mahathir has called Malays “stupid”. But he is the man who has weakened the Malay race by tolerating the perverted education policy of cocooning them in Malay-only institutions. Mahathir cannot claim to be so exceptional in the political arena of this country. He created UMNO Baru and that caused the Malays to be split.
The curiosity among most Malays is still whether Mahathir is a real Malay having the interests of the latter at his heart.
It was widely reported that when he entered medical school at Raffles Institution, Singapore he identified himself in his application form as an “Indian”. A chameleon, he later morphed into a Malay for his political usefulness and now pretends to be more Malay than a real Malay is.
When he took over the reins of government in 1981, he wanted to make Malaysia more efficacious than Singapore but he lacked intellectual wisdom and the real-world acumen to do so. He even failed to change the mind-set of the Malays.
Mahathir has become a thorn in the flesh not only to the Chinese but all the people in the country. His racist statement on the TARC certificate issue has hurt the Chinese most. He has not pleased the Malays either.