KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin has challenged Tun Daim Zainuddin to prove his assertion that the matriculation system is irrelevant today as the racial imbalances in education have been corrected.
The former higher education minister also chided Daim for suggesting that matriculation is a “back door” for Bumiputera students to enter public universities, saying the syllabus could be tougher than even STPM, the main route post-secondary.
“Tun Daim did not show any data to support his claim, by right he should have provided data collected in the last 10 years to show the achievement of Bumiputera and Indian students in Science subjects compared to Chinese students.
“Let’s see from the data if we have sufficient Bumiputera and Indian students who are qualified based on their STPM results to be enrolled in critical courses such as medicine, engineering, law and others.
“Without providing any data and statistics, Tun Daim’s statement can be considered as baseless assumptions and in fact, it is irresponsible of him to say it,” Mohamed Khaled said in a statement last night.
He said that matriculation is the only recourse to most financially-strapped Bumiputera students to uncover their “true potential”, adding that 70 per cent of Malaysia remain without proper access to educational infrastructure.
“Remember, Malaysia is not just about Bangsar, Bukit Tunku, Taman Melawati or Taman Tun Dr Ismail, which have proper modern schools and families that can afford additional tuition,” he said.
Mohamed Khaled added that it’s unfair to assume that students who opt for matriculation programme are weak in their studies and not competitive.
He said most selected student have good academic performance and diverse potential and talent; all they need is a more structured development opportunity.
“Remember Tun Daim, the competition entering the public universities is not assessed based on academic results alone but also other values,” he said.
He added that it was wrong to assume that matriculation students go through easier syllabus as it is actually equivalent to the quality of STPM examination.
“In certain subjects, the syllabus is more difficult compared to STPM as according to the current requirement, because the matriculation programme is framed with the goal of preparing students for universities.
“When it comes to education, it is important that any statement made is based on current facts.
“Tun Daim should be more mindful when voicing his views, and should not just give preconceived opinions,” Mohamed Khaled said.
Daim recently told news portal The Malaysian Insight that the original purpose of matriculation to correct racial imbalances no longer existed and indicated that the system should be dismantled.
At the same time, he also admitted that doing so would be “political suicide” for the government among the Malays as it would give the Opposition parties ammunition to tar Pakatan Harapan as being anti-Bumiputera.
The government recently increased the number of seats in the matriculation programme to 40,000 from 25,000 after receiving complaints that non-Malay SPMs graduates were not able to secure places despite scoring high marks.
Daim said the whole education system needed to be reformed as it is producing graduates that lack the skills to compete in today’s job market.