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KUCHING, July 12: The continuation of a racially discriminatory quota system in higher education is a step backward for a new Malaysia as it undermines the principle of meritocracy and equal opportunity in the progression towards a fair and inclusive society.
Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang who raised this, expressed his concerns that such policy could perpetuate the idea that success and academic achievement should be determined by factors such as race, religion or the colour of one’s skin, rather than an individual’s abilities and efforts.
“The imposition of quotas sends the message that their achievements are less worthy simply because they do not align with the predetermined quota distribution.
“This discourages excellence, stifles motivation, and fosters a culture of mediocrity instead of excellence. It undermines the very essence of education itself,” he said in a statement today.
The Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) secretary-general was responding to a recent statement by Prime Minister Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim who reaffirmed the necessity of retaining the quota system for Bumiputera students to maintain racial balance in local public institutions of higher learning.
While Lo acknowledged the Prime Minister’s willingness to address questions raised by university students, he expressed disappointment and concern over the regressive direction suggested for the education system in a new Malaysia, rather than progress.
The purpose of education, Lo emphasised, is to provide every individual, regardless of their background, with a fair chance to develop their potential.
He argued that individual skills, talents, hard work, and dedication should be the sole basis for advancement, and therefore, the racially discriminatory policy, in place since 1971, is no longer appropriate in a global society striving for anti-racism.
“It is time for Malaysians to reaffirm the non-discriminatory basis of the Federal Constitution and to uphold human rights principles which are strictly anti-racist,” he said.
Lo pointed out that in Sarawak under the leadership of Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, policies and initiatives including in education promote inclusivity.
The Sarawak government supports Sarawakian students through Yayasan Sarawak, providing assistance for free education, including higher education, with the aim of creating a system that rewards talent, hard work, and dedication, fostering an environment that encourages excellence and empowers individuals to reach their full potential.
“Our Sarawak Premier’s openness and inclusivity efforts in education and economic development is a way forward for a comprehensive progressive nation. Inclusive education benefits all students by providing them with an equal opportunity to learn and grow.
“It also helps to break down barriers between different groups of people and allows everyone to feel welcomed and valued in the educational setting. Inclusive education is the key to creating a more just and equitable society for everyone,” he added. — DayakDaily