SERDANG, Oct 8 — Malaysians of Indian descent would have less chance for tertiary education locally if Putrajaya imposed entry fully on meritocracy, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.
Najib had cited his administration’s allocation of additional 700 seats in institutions of higher learning and 1,500 seats in matriculation courses for Indian Malaysians, pointing out that the latter was done for the “first time” in history.
“I realise the participation of Indians in higher education is still low, that’s why recently I have given orders for an additional 700 places in institutions of higher learning to be given to Indians, because if we allow meritocracy to be carried out fully, then those who will become victims are the Indian community,” he said at the opening ceremony of the Indian Progressive Front’s 25th annual general meeting here this afternoon.
“The meritocracy policy was introduced not during my time, but during the time of others; but this policy does not help Indian community,” he said, without mentioning the name of the leader who started the meritocracy policy.
“If we don’t do something, maybe the participation of Indians in institutions of higher learning would be only 3 to 4 per cent, not up to 7 per cent. This will be a loss to the Indians because if one child succeeds, he can help other family members,” he added, when describing the extra seats allocated for the Indian community.
Throughout his speech, Najib listed various measures that his administration had done for the ethnic Indian community, touting that the extent of his assistance had never been done before by previous leaders.
Najib said his government always practises a fair and inclusive policy, adding that it knew the ethnic Indian community needs special attention due to the challenges they face in adapting to urban life.
“Without specific attention and intervention from the government, Indians will face difficulties in transiting from an estate community to a community that can succeed in the cities and the suburban areas,” he said, adding that the Malaysian Indian Blueprint launched in April was proof that his administration does not make empty promises.
“We do not make empty promises, but we have plans, we have the machinery, we have the structure and the machinery to help Indians,” he said.
He said the vernacular Tamil primary schools had received a big sum during his administration.
“The SJK(T) schools have never before received such a huge allocation from the government, almost RM900 million has been approved for the development of SJK(T) schools since I became prime minister,” he said, adding that the over RM1 billion of loans approved for Indian entrepreneurs and businesses was similarly a historic amount.
Pointing out these various measures as proof of his “commitment” to help the Indian community, Najib compared BN’s efforts to the federal opposition which he alleged had no specific plans or blueprint to help the Indians.
Najib also described the federal Opposition pact as being a “ship with three captains” with parties with differing ideologies bound only by the common aim of toppling the government, saying that an “unstable” coalition was dangerous and would be bad for the country and its citizens.
Such an alliance was unlike the BN which operated on consensus, he said, and warned of chaos and internal conflicts in countries without political stability.
In 2002, then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had replaced the racial quota system for entry into public universities with entry based on meritocracy.