LETTER | The current turmoil among the Indian community of not being offered the agreed and declared 2,200 placements to matriculate locally is indeed very disturbing. To date, an approximate of 700 places were offered.
To add salt to the wound, the Ministry of Education released a statement stating that it is reverting to the 90 percent quota placement for the bumiputera community and the balance 10 percent to be shared by the others.
The Malaysian Association of Indian University Graduates (Maiug) strongly urges the Pakatan Harapan government to reconsider this decision and offer the entire 2,200 placements to all qualified Indian students.
The Indians are in need of such an opportunity to catch up with the other communities, as rightly pointed out by PKR president Anwar Ibrahim in his interview with CNN that the way forward of the Harapan government is on need basis and not on race basis.
With the new government, the Indian community is very hopeful in getting a fair share of their opportunities, especially in education, which is very close to their hearts. The community is even more hopeful as there are more MPs and ADUN, not forgetting the historical appointment of four Indian ministers.
Despite all these developments, the entire community was severely devastated when only about 700 placements in matriculation were given from the declared and agreed allotment of 2,200 places.
One cannot deny that the Indian community, which was systematically marginalised over 60-odd years, played an instrumental role in sowing the seed of reformation through Hindraf and undeniably played a deciding role in the GE14, resulting in the formation of the new Harapan government.
Twenty-five of the pledges in the Harapan manifesto were targeted on uplifting of the Indian community, encompassing a wide range of issues that were affecting the community rights and developments.
Understandably, the fulfillment of some of these promises may take longer than the promised time frame due to the inability of the ministers to communicate effectively with the civil service and more significantly, the lack of cooperation from the civil service.
Noble characteristic of civil service 'willfully abused'
Though, fundamentally, the civil service staff are to work closely with the government of the day as their role is for the well-being of the people, unfortunately, this noble characteristic of the civil service is willfully abused.
Providing education opportunity is the fundamental means of empowering a community. The Indians lay great importance on education and are ever ready to make the sacrifices to acquire education.
Since independence, it has been a continuous struggle to seek placements in government tertiary and skill-based educational institutions. The 10 percent quota was never filled. Very few seats for professional courses were offered.
Meritocracy made it even more disastrous as the community was not ready. Due to these denials and the frustrations, many Indian youths plunged into criminal activities and became the majority in the “prison institutions” of the country.
However, over the last few years of the previous government, there were some meaningful placements being offered, especially in the skill-based institutions. The number of placements for matriculation was also gradually increased from a few hundred to 1,500 in 2017 and 2,200 in 2018.
Thanks to NGOs that took great effort in collecting statistics (privately collected as the government often denied statistics or provide distorted ones) and going around the country creating awareness.
It was a genuine effort of the then government to provide these opportunities to the Indian community in order to narrow the gap of development between the major communities in the country. The current government must honour this at all costs.
A RAVENDIRAN ARJUNAN is president of the Malaysian Association of Indian University Graduates (Maiug).
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.