PETALING JAYA: A sociologist has called for frank discussions on the issue of maintaining the race quota in the university matriculation programme as well as on other matters that may bear on key provisions of the Federal Constitution.
“We need to take the position that all views can be put on the table,” said Denison Jayasooria, a principal research fellow at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Ethnic Studies.
In open and frank discussions, he added, those who exhibit irrationality would lose.
“We can openly discuss even Article 153 on the special position and legitimate interests of Bumiputeras without trying to abolish it.”
Referring to the matriculation issue, he called for a review of the justification for a Bumiputera quota in the light of contemporary realities.
He suggested a single system of entry into public universities in the form of a unified course and examination.
He said he didn’t believe Malay students from national and special schools would not be able to compete in such an examination.
“The situation in the 1950s and 1960s was different,” he said. “Our educational institutions and provisions are very comprehensive currently.
“In this context too, the government should review its practice of sending students overseas for their first degrees. It should send them to local public universities as well as good private universities.”
Keeping the best students locally would improve the quality of local higher education, he added.
Putrajaya’s recent decision to maintain the quota of 90% for Bumiputera students in the matriculation programme has stirred up some debate.
Some observers have said parts of the debate were tilting towards racism.
FMT recently quoted antique book dealer Muhammad Nazreen Jaafar and academic Teo Kok Seong as saying that recent political speeches and writings that could be seen as communally charged revolved around the position of the Malay language and education.
Nazreen, a former researcher at a local think tank, said he had acquired a document produced internally by the Alliance, the precursor to Barisan Nasional, which described the political climate prior to the riots of May 13, 1969. He indicated that the current political debates were of a similar vein.
Teo, a colleague of Jayasooria’s at the Institute of Ethnic Studies, said some political parties appeared to be challenging the constitution and Malay rights, and he cited the debate over the matriculation quota.