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Minorities surreptitiously being denied equal rights

Which other country in the world does the majority community surreptitiously and systematically deny equal rights and opportunities to its disadvantaged minorities other than Malaysia?

Can you name one?

Let me clarify how this works in reality with three reports from Utusan Malaysia (Oct 3, 2009). These three reports are from the IPTA/IPTS special supplement of the paper. It is only from reports in the Malay media that a glimpse of such total usurpation by the majority is obtained. The other parts of the media do not feature any of this. This is the design. This is part of the scheme.

The first report is about the Umno government’s plan to produce 100,000 PhDs by 2024. Mara has a post-graduate school called IPS-is (Institut Pengajian Siswazah) which has been in operation since 1997. They are targeting to have 20,000 students in their various post-graduate programmes by 2024.

Given an average stay of four years for each graduate student, that will be an output of some 5,000 per year. Whether it is realised or not is really a different question. My purpose is really to show the embedded injustice in all these government programmes.

The institute’s dean says one of the factors contributing to low participation in their graduate programmes is the fees. So they are considering an assistance scheme for the better students and they are to be paid RM1,300 (Masters) and RM1,800 (PhD) per month.

That is really good. But here is the catch. This is a 100 percent bumiputra participation programme with zero non-bumi participation. Not only are the places provided but they also facilitated. This is something one never hears in any of the programmes involving non-bumis.

The second article is about Kolej Teknologi Timur in Sepang, which has just seen the graduation of its fourth batch of students on what is called the Kursus Intensif Timur Tengah (Middle East Intensive Course).

This is a three-month programme to prepare selected Mara-sponsored students to pursue medicine in the Alexandria University in Cairo. They are all SPM-level candidates.

The point about this programme is that it is a 100 percent bumiputra participation programme. This is only for one course, for one Middle Eastern University. This is a preparatory programme.

Not only do the participants get to do medicine on scholarship, the students also are put through preparatory programmes to reduce the fallout rate.

This is a good approach. But the point I want to make about this report is this. Not only does this programme systematically exclude the minorities of the country, it also shows in contrast, the attention to detail that is generally not shown if this were a programme for the non-bumis.

If the non-bumi programme were to fail, it would just be allowed to fail and no remedial measures would be planned or done. ‘A failure is a failure, sorry, just try harder the next time please. No remedial or facilitating programmes for you,’ they would say.

The third report is about Kolej Risda in Alor Gajah in Melaka – a Risda-run private college developing middle-level management and technical and operative level manpower for the agro industry.

It runs various diploma-level programmes. Some of the key ones are Diploma in Agriculture with UPM, Diploma in Plantation management with Mara, a pre-diploma in science programme as a feeder programme to the diploma programmes and a Diploma in Landscape Management.

There are several other diploma programmes offered with UPM. All of this are for the middle- management and middle-level technical personnel. Then there are programmes such as Certificate as a Plantation Conductor and a Certificate as a Palm Oil Mill Operator.

All the students of the college will be assisted to get funding from the National Higher Education Fund and scholarships are provided to second-generation small holders .

Needless to say, the majority if not all of the participants will be bumiputera. The point is that there are so many skills training programmes in the country like this one but which are systematically and surreptitiously denied to the non-bumiputera.

So many non-bumiputera youth could be kept away from the clutches of crime if they had opportunities like these available to them; opportunities for self-employment, for hope and maybe for upward mobility.

But no, this is systematically denied to them.

Malaysia is the only country in the world where the majority community grabs all the resources of the country for itself to the detriment and neglect of significant minority groups in the country. What I have shown above is from news reports in one day and from a couple of educational programmes pertaining to a couple of institutions in the country.

Multiply that several thousand times over the various fields of life beyond education and the scale of this usurpation will become clearer.

The many problems we see in the minority communities which are often attributed to some self- induced causes (meaning it is intrinsic and endemic to them) can really be shown to be only secondary if opportunities such as these are opened up to the youth from these minority communities.

They will have hope return to their lives and along with it opportunities for upward mobility in the system. The many issues and problems we see today will be pre-empted. We are not asking for more than what should be our share - we are only asking for our rightful share and nobody really, should have a problem with that.

The federal constitution which is the supreme document governing the country of Malaysia never said to totally exclude non-Malays from all the education programmes of the government like what is happening in our country right now.