PETALING JAYA: Klang MP Charles Santiago has questioned the sincerity in Prime Minister Najib Razak’s expression of concern for the education of youths from the Indian community.
Referring to Najib’s recent statement that it would be difficult for many Indians to enter local universities on merit alone, Santiago asked: “So what’s the government doing about it?”
He also questioned whether it was true that not many Indians had the merit to qualify for entry into institutions of higher learning.
“This is something the government likes to say, but if it is at all true, then it should be viewed as a serious problem. So, what’s the government’s solution?”
He alleged that many Indian students with merit were treated unfairly by the government, adding that this raised the question of whether the government really cared about them.
“Every year, Indian parents come to see me to complain that their children are unable to get into university despite scoring eight or nine As for their SPM,” he said. “Even when they are able to get into university, it’s usually for courses they have no interest in.
“This happens because of their race.”
Santiago said there was no lack of potential among Indian students and he gave the example of several Tamil school pupils who recently won international awards for innovation.
According to a Tamil Nesan report, pupils from six Tamil schools in the country bagged 10 gold medals at the recent International Young Innovators Awards event in Jakarta.
Pupils from SJK(T) Kajang did especially well, with their team winning six of the gold medals as well as a silver medal and a special recognition award for their battery-operated toaster.
Santiago asked: “Why is the government not mentioning these students? Is it because they are from Tamil schools?
“These are global top awards, and yet the students are not being given scholarships to study overseas.”
He said the government should be nurturing such bright students, regardless of their race.
Former MIC secretary-general S Murugesan agreed with Santiago that the government should not disown students merely because of their racial background.
“The quota system for university intake is one of the main reasons for racial polarisation in Malaysia,” he told FMT.
He said it was inaccurate to say that enrolment was currently based on merit.
“Yes, Form 6 students enter institutions of higher learning based on merit, but only after most of the places have already been filled, based on the quota system,” he said.
“Universities have their own matriculation and basic courses, where the intake is based on race. Therefore, the number of places available for Form 6 students is very limited.
“You cannot have the quota system for one intake and meritocracy for another intake.”
He said the number of Indian students in universities would increase dramatically if the enrolment system were fair.