Education Minister Maszlee Malik's remarks linking the continuation of the matriculation quota to unfair employment practices in the private sector with regard to the bumiputera is shocking, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy said.
"He is saying as long as the private sector, in other words, Chinese employers, are recruiting on the basis of knowledge of Mandarin, then the government will maintain the present matriculation quota.
"Firstly, I am shocked a minister of education is still entrapped in thinking along racial lines. What is the difference between him and Umno politicians?" Ramasamy added in a statement this morning.
The DAP leader said if the bumiputera are facing difficulties in securing jobs in the private sector, Maszlee should raise this matter with the cabinet.
Yesterday, Maszlee said providing equal opportunities to all races should not only be looked at from the perspective of education alone, but also employment.
Speaking to Universiti Sains Malaysia students during a question-and-answer session, the minister (photo) cited the example of certain jobs requiring applicants to be able to speak Mandarin.
He was then asked by a student to comment on the possibility of loosening the quota system for the pre-university matriculation programme.
He replied, "If we want to change, if we say in 'Malaysia Baru' there is no need for a quota system and so on, then we must also make sure job opportunities are not denied to bumiputera just because they don't know Mandarin."
Previously, the government courted flak when it announced that student intake into the pre-university matriculation programme would be increased from 25,000 to 40,000 while retaining the 90:10 ratio for bumiputera and non-bumiputera students.
Public sector dominated by bumiputera
Questioning Maszlee's motive for raising this issue in public, Ramasamy questioned if the minister wanted to score points with the predominantly Malay audience.
"After Pakatan Harapan won the government, some of us thought racial policies in education and other areas would go into to the bygone era.
"But now, there is a realisation that some of our ministers, like Maszlee, are no different from the BN era politicians who used race and religion to ensure their political survival," he said.
Ramasamy pointed out that a recent survey indicated that Indians faced the most discrimination in the private sector while the public sector is monopolised by the bumiputera.
"If this is so, what action the government is doing to rectify the situation rather than to link it to the matriculation quota system?" he asked.
Ramasamy said the employment of Chinese and Indians is limited in the public sector and asked if Maszlee would take the initiative to change this.
"Well, with politicians like Maszlee, Harapan can say goodbye to bringing about policies and reforms to move the nation ahead," he added.