SHAH ALAM (Aug 13, 2008)by Karen Arukesamy
The Selangor government's proposal for Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) to open its doors to non-bumiputras is to help raise the standard of education in institutes of higher learning in the state.
"Opening a 10% admission quota will help raise standards via healthy competition among a multi-ethnic student population," said Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.
"It is a holistic proposal. Neither is the proposal a Pakatan Rakyat (PR) or Parti Keadilan Rakyat's policy, so there is no reason for it to be politicised," he added.
Speaking in his weekly post-exco meeting media briefing today, Khalid said he was saddened that certain quarters chose to politicise education for political mileage.
"My statement was made in the context to enhance UiTM's academic quality in this era of globalisation and to open up more opportunities for both Malay and non-Bumiputra students to have healthy academic competition.
"In fulfilling the Malay aspirations, UiTM should not just focus on quota matters but concentrate on lifting its standard and university facilities to a higher and more reputable level," he said.
Asked if the state government was going to apologise to UiTM, Khalid said: "There is no need to apologise on this issue. All it needs is a proper explanation on the statement."
He said the important matter is that all universities and institutes of higher learning in the state should cooperate with the (state) government in its effort to raise their status to be national and international recognition.
The protest led by UITM students yesterday.
"One of the ways to achieve is the openness and the students' active participation in open dialogues and sharing of ideas. The PR state government regrets that my statement was reported out of context and skewed into a racial issue instead," said Khalid.
He reiterated the state government's stand that it never meant to discuss the bumiputra's special rights.
"I am aware UiTM was set up to raise the status of bumiputra students and the state government still respects the Federal Constitution which includes Acticle 153 which speaks of Malays special rights," he said.
"Stop harping on and distorting the proposal. I urge UiTM students not to be influenced by certain quarters' propaganda," said Khalid.
Some 5,000 UiTM students marched to the Selangor State Secretariat in Bangunan Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah from Dataran Shah Alam to hand over a memorandum of protest over the MB's suggestion that 10% of UiTM quota be opened to non-bumiputras and foreigners.
The protest, led by UiTM student body president Luqmann Ulhakim Mohamad Idris, saw the students carrying banners and placards with various declarations - "Jangan Rampas Hak Kami" (Do not take away our rights), "Selamatkan UiTM"' (Save UiTM) and "UiTM di Hatiku"' (UiTM in our hearts).
The memorandum was received by Khalid's press officer Hazril Abu Hassan.