Malaysiakini Letter

Dubious criteria in UEC recognition

Kua Kia Soong
Published:

LETTER | There seems to be no end to the political farce over the recognition of the UEC. In his parliamentary reply yesterday, Education Minister Maszlee Malik said that the task force on the UEC recognition had consulted 17 individuals, 27 NGOs, five political parties, 12 government agencies as well as 14 public and private higher education institutions to get their views on the UEC recognition as a prerequisite to enter public universities.

In the same breath, he stressed that “recognising the UEC is not that easy […] because it has to comply with the federal constitution, the Education Act and policy, the national education philosophy, the National Language Act and the social contract.” He added that recognising the UEC was a sensitive issue because it concerns the history of the nation.

Does the second part of his parliamentary reply reveal the real reason for the non-recognition of the UEC all these 45 years? Let’s remember that before GE14 both BN and Pakatan Harapan had promised to recognise the UEC without any mention of “sensitivity” being an obstacle. 

Be that as it may, we have since been told by the prime minister that such promises were made because Harapan did not expect to win and the DAP elder has also said that Harapan shouldn’t have “promised the impossible”! So does the DAP elder also consider the UEC recognition an “impossible promise”?

Leaving aside the political shenanigans, what concerns Malaysian taxpayers who have been told to tighten our belts because of the towering national debt is the fact that we have had to waste time and money on a farcical task force whose remit is questionable. 

We can imagine the usefulness of gathering the facts about the credibility of the UEC graduates in private higher education institutions and the accreditation process from the MQA. But why waste time and money on individuals, NGOs, political parties, government agencies and public educational institutions which have no contact with UEC graduates? What have individuals, NGO and political party lobbies got to do with the academic accreditation of the UEC?

Will it be a numbers game when the task force report is finished and handed to the cabinet or does the task force itself have a recommendation of its own? For example, if there are more NGOs asking for the non-recognition of the UEC, what does it mean for the recommendation of the task force? 

The same goes for political parties – supposing Bersatu, Umno and PAS are for non-recognition of the UEC against DAP and MCA for recognition, what then? If it’s not a numbers game, how will this question of UEC recognition be decided? Obviously, the three members of the task force will have to have minds of their own.

And assuming the task force recommends the recognition of the UEC, can their recommendation be overturned by the cabinet? Will the cabinet vote on this so-called “sensitive issue”? The nation shakes its forlorn head at this dithering government …

The Harapan government should stop using dubious criteria and politicising a proven quality Unified Examination Certificate which is valued by top universities such as NUS. The recognition of the UEC is for the benefit of those students and their parents who cannot afford to go overseas and could go to local public educational institutions or the civil and armed services. 

More importantly, this will help to promote greater integration among Malaysians as has been the intended aim of the government. In other words, by not recognising the UEC, the Harapan government is depriving a sector of the Malaysian population of their human right to education and access to state institutions that have been paid for by all Malaysian taxpayers.


The writer is Suaram adviser.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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