PUTRAJAYA, April 29 — The retention of the 90 per cent Bumiputera quota amid the expansion of matriculation programmes to 40,000 student intake is a win-win situation, Education Minister Maszlee Malik said today.

The matriculation programme was expanded by 60 per cent from 25,000 to 40,000 students, including 4,000 seats for non-Bumiputera from 2,500.

“We believe the excessive seats that has been opened is the first time in Malaysia’s history that the non-Bumiputera are given 4,000 seats that they have never been given before.

“Importantly, this is not on the expense of the Bumiputera students. The Bumiputera students are also guaranteed to enter matriculation without sacrificing their seats to non-Bumiputera students, so it’s a win-win situation,” he told reporters during an interview session in conjunction with Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) celebration of its first year in office.

Maszlee was responding to various comments made by politicians and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), who had said the decision was a populist and irresponsible move as it will cause bigger problems, such as for STPM graduates, when students apply for public universities.

“It was a Cabinet decision, I was announcing it on behalf of the Cabinet.

“Matriculation is not the only way to get a place in universities, we also have STPM, Pusat Asasi (foundation studies) and other means for students to get into public universities.

“We believe that our students are capable to excel in their studies if we give them a chance and encourage them to do better. I believe all our teachers and lectures have the same capability and are dedicating themselves for the nation,” he said.

Maszlee said the Education Ministry is in the midst of discussing with the Finance Ministry on the additional cost of taking in more students.

On April 24, Maszlee announced his ministry will retain the Bumiputera quota for matriculation programmes, while increasing the number of student intake to 40,000.

He said the additional intake will be implemented to ensure the best-performing students have a higher chance to further their studies.

He said the PH government saw a need to boost the number of science students, hence the increased student intake.

Prior to Maszlee’s announcement, PH allies have been engaged in a verbal war with each other over the past several days on whether the 90 per cent Bumiputera quota should be retained.

After his announcement, several politicians commented that there will be a serious problem when students apply for public universities, as there will be limited seats since there will be more applications now.

There were also comments that the government made a hasty decision, with people questioning if the ministry had considered whether teachers and equipment are adequate.