KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 — Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today said that citing the Federal Constitution as the reason to exclude non-Bumiputera students from enrolling in Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) repeatedly is wrong.

LFL director Zaid Malek said that Article 153 in the Federal Constitution had been repeatedly and wrongly cited to defend the racial exclusivity of UiTM and any argument that states that enrolling non-Bumiputera students into UiTM is unconstitutional is false.

"There is absolutely nothing in Article 153 of the Constitution that prevents or prohibits the admission of non-Bumiputera to any public institution, which would include UiTM.

"In fact, not only is there nothing in Article 153 that bars any non-Bumiputera from entering UiTM, but there is also nothing in it that allows the creation of any public learning institution to be exclusively only for Bumiputera,” he said in a statement today.


Zaid said that Article 153 prescribes that a reasonable proportion of quota for educational purposes can be assigned by the King, who is bound by the advice of the Cabinet on the matter.

He said the determination must also be made with the legitimate interests of other communities in mind.

"The racial exclusivity of UiTM is a clear violation of the determination of ‘reasonable proportion’ provided under Article 153 and is entirely unlawful. UiTM therefore falls outside the permissible ambit of Article 153.


"Article 153 does not permit setting up single-race universities such as UITM. Those who rely on Article 153 to support UiTM’s racial exclusivity are seriously misguided and are misreading the Constitution,” he said.

Yesterday, the 20-person Public University Vice-Chancellors and Rectors Committee issued a statement supporting UiTM’s stand against the enrolment of non-Bumiputera students, citing provisions under the UiTM Act 1976 and Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

Zaid said it was disturbing and appalling that senior academics involved in the administration of higher institutions were perpetuating a regressive and false narrative, in ignorance of the Constitution and pushing aside national healthcare needs.

"Not allowing non-Bumiputera to enroll into UiTM is a clear breach of the fundamental right of education guaranteed under Article 12 of the Constitution that states that the right of education must be ‘free from discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, descent or place of birth’.

"It is the duty and legal obligation of the federal government to uphold the Constitution, and not act in direct contravention of it. As a public institution funded by taxpayers, UiTM cannot remain exclusively for Bumiputera. The federal constitution does not permit it,” he said.

He urged the government to act immediately and take the necessary steps to ensure that UiTM’s student admission policy complies with Articles 12 and 153 of the Constitution.

"Any form of racial exclusivity in admissions is in breach of both these Articles of the constitution,” he said.

The issue of UiTM’s racial inclusivity was sparked by a news report claiming that UiTM is considering opening up its cardiothoracic surgery postgraduate programme to non-Bumiputera trainee doctors, as the programme with the National Heart Institute is currently the only Parallel Pathway Programme in the country.

Last month, the Health Ministry said it would recognise the Parallel Pathway Programme and planned to amend the Medical Act 1971.

This came after four graduates from the cardiothoracic surgery programme with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh sued the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) for refusing to register them on the National Specialist Register (NSR).

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir earlier this week denied any discussion within the government to allow non-Bumiputera students to enroll into UiTM.